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Obama appoints lawyer pal as Aus ambassador

Obama appoints lawyer pal as Aus ambassador

An old-pal lawyer friend of US president Barack Obama will be the new US ambassador to Australia.

AN old-pal lawyer friend of US president Barack Obama will be the new US ambassador to Australia. 

The former Harvard Law School man, Jeff Bleich has been working as a special counsel to the White House since March. He's being presented as a highly regarded Californian lawyer and close alliance with the President. 

Though his nomination is yet to be confirmed by the US Senate, the announcement represents a long-time tradition of presidents favouring friends and political supporters for the comfortable diplomatic post. 

SOme commentators have highlighted the move as representing the importance placed on the US relationship with Australia. Bleich is not only close to the Obama administration but he is a senior counsel to the White House. 

Bleich, 48, has been labelled an over-achieving lawyer. He is known for his work for more than 20 charity and community organisations. 

Bleich is a former president of the California State University, and is adjunct professor at the Boalt Hall School of Law at the University of California, Berkeley. He is a litigation partner at the San Francisco office of law firm Munger Tolles & Olson.

There has been some speculation on who Obama would choose for the US ambassadorship to Australia. In recent months he announced a string of ambassadors to China, Japan, Britain, France and other countries throughout Europe. But the post in Canberra has been left open since January after the departure of George W. Bush appointee Robert McCallum.

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