“If you stop sending me e-mails about Foster’s beer and your favorite Crocodile Dundee lines, I’ll re-friend you,” he told a crowd of about 200 late Friday in the San Francisco City Hall rotunda just after being sworn in as the ambassador to Australia.
The event, organized by Bleich’s now former law firm — Munger, Tolles & Olson — had quite a turnout. California Chief Justice Ronald George was on hand, as were several judges, including First District Justice Martin Jenkins. A group of State Bar folk, including Executive Director Judy Johnson, attended as a reminder of Bleich’s year as State Bar president.
Christopher Paul De Cure, the L.A.-based Australian consulate general, showed up, as did baseball great Willie Mays, a longtime friend and client of Bleich’s.
We can’t believe we had to show up to work on “Jeff Bleich Day.” More after the jump …
Bleich was sworn in by U.S. District Judge Thelton Henderson and received accolades from several people, including San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera and U.S. District Judge Marilyn Hall Patel. Friday was named “Jeff Bleich Day” in San Francisco, where Bleich worked, and in Piedmont, where his family lives.
Bleich gave a short speech in which he stressed the importance of partnerships — specifically with his wife of 25 years and his law firm — and how they also applied to the United States’ relationship with Australia.
“We have no greater friend in the world,” he said. “We’ve stayed true to each other.”
Getting Down to Business
Earlier in the week, during a telephone conversation, Bleich told Legal Pad he was in for a lot of work because he will be overseeing the interests of 17 federal agencies, including the Department of Defense.
“Everybody thinks it’s just dinners and cocktail parties,” he said. “But there is a tremendous amount of work.”
Bleich, who spent several months this year working as special counsel to President Obama, said his family — he has two teenage boys and a younger daughter — is looking forward to the adventure of living on another continent.
“They’re really thrilled,” he said. “We all loved my working at the White House when they’d come to visit. But this job is one where we can serve our country as a family.”
Bleich said his new job will take him around Asia and the South Pacific tackling problems such as climate change, nuclear non-proliferation and relations with China.
But he’s also hoping to have some fun. For one, he’s already planning a trip to Tasmania to see penguins and really hopes to hop down to Antarctica.
“It’s a great set of policy challenges and it’s also a family adventure,” Bleich said. “It’s certainly a time in life when you need to embrace the unexpected.”
Bleich flew off to Australia on Saturday. Check out his bio on the U.S. embassy’s Web site.
— Mike McKee