Jason C. DeSanto

Senior Lecturer


Jason C. DeSanto is fascinated by the power of communication and the freedom to engage in it. He teaches courses at the intersection of law and public advocacy, including First Amendment law, and has pioneered the Law School's curriculum geared to preparing lawyers as impactful public persuaders, particularly in the worlds of policymaking and entrepreneurship. He is one of the highest-rated lecturers across the University, has won the Dean's Teaching Award, and was voted by three consecutive Law School graduating classes to deliver the School's annual Last Lecture, an institutional flagship. He also teaches the Northwestern School of Communication's executive courses in persuasion and leadership, and formerly served as a partner at Chicago's Freeborn & Peters LLP, where he handled constitutional and corporate litigation, represented a series of individuals and public entities in cases of public controversy, and acted as a Special Assistant Attorney General of Illinois.

He also served for more than 15 years as a political speechwriter and debate strategist, having assisted U.S. Senators, members of Congress, and multiple American presidential campaigns. He provides public speaking coaching, media training, and communications strategy to C-suite executives at a series of Fortune 500 companies and not-for-profit entities, and has advised prevailing counsel in U.S. Supreme Court litigation. He has critiqued persuasion and political communication for The New York Times, the Today Show, CBS Radio, and the BBC; served as lead commentator on presidential addresses and debates for the award-winning PBS program, Chicago Tonight; and is a periodic analyst of presidential debates at the University of Chicago Institute of Politics. He also is founding co-producer of the Newt & Jo Minow Debate Series, Oxford-style public policy debates originated at Northwestern Pritzker Law as a tribute to, and with the participation of, U.S. presidential debate pioneer and Law School alum Newton N. Minow.

A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania Law School, he was an Editor of the University of Pennsylvania Law Review, an H. Clayton Louderback Legal Writing Instructor, and the winner of the George Schechtman Prize. He holds an undergraduate degree from Northwestern, concentrating in American rhetorical history and graduating magna cum laude. He is a Fellow with the Truman National Security Project, has provided First Amendment training assistance for lawyers and journalists from former republics of the Soviet Union, and is an editorial board member of the journal First Amendment Studies. He also graduated from the Second City Conservatory and periodically appears as a political satirist and commentator on Chicago radio.

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  • BS, Northwestern University
  • JD, University of Pennsylvania

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