Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff on What He’s Learned from His Classroom Day Job
Vice President Kamala Harris' husband recently began teaching a course at the Georgetown University Law Center
Doug Emhoff is taking his new roles — both as second gentleman and as a teacher at Georgetown University — in stride. Still, he admitted to reporters on Monday that some of his students think it's a little strange that their instructor is married to the vice president.
"Look: It's odd the second gentleman is their teacher. But we kind of dispensed with that ... maybe five minutes in the first class," Emhoff said. "Now, it's just they want to learn, they want to be great lawyers and I'm trying to impart to them experiences as a lawyer."
Emhoff talked about his time in the classroom during a visit to the bar and event space Hook Hall, where he and Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bower made an appearance to tout President Joe Biden's COVID-19 economic relief plan.
In December, the 56-year-old entertainment attorney, who relocated to D.C. from California after the election, was announced as a new faculty member at the Georgetown University Law Center. He is teaching a two-credit course for the spring semester titled "Entertainment Law Disputes."
Speaking to reporters following Monday's tour of the space, Emhoff noted that the role has offered him a newfound respect for educators.
"First of all, I've learned teaching is really hard," he told the press pool. "And I have so much respect for the teachers out there doing this each and every day — the amount of work that you have to put in and the extra effort, especially during COVID, doing over Zoom."
Emhoff continued: "I've always appreciated teachers, and now that I'm doing it's just tons and tons of respect. But I'm really enjoying it. I love my career as a lawyer, and this is a way to really kind of stay in it and be so inspired by these young students, who are just about to enter their careers, so it's been an incredible experience so far."
He also told reporters that he and wife Kamala Harris chat about their days over dinner each night. He added that the fact that both are attorneys makes it easy to discuss things like his job at Georgetown.
"We at dinner [will ask each other], 'How was your day?' ... We talk about it. I talk about how it's going, how I'm trying to reach the students and how they're responding to me," Emhoff said.
Emhoff has had another kind of job training — as the country's first-ever second gentleman.
"I am working full time. I'm teaching, I'm learning. As second gentleman, I'm taking every opportunity I can to educate myself," he said. "So it's not just going to the library and the national galleries, it's also taking advantage of the experts in administration, learning issues, so when I'm out here advocating, I know I'm up on the issues. So I'm taking it very seriously, I'm putting a lot of time into it."
It was reported in November that Emhoff, formerly a partner at DLA Piper Law Firm in Los Angeles, would be leaving the firm ahead of the presidential inauguration. He had been on leave from the firm while his wife campaigned.
"I do miss it. I did it for 30 years, I thought I was good at it and successful, but what an opportunity, if I'm gonna leave to be able to be in this administration, and also to support my wife," Emhoff said on Monday. "I mean, she's the first female vice president. I'm so proud of her."
Emhoff — who has two kids, Cole and Ella, from a previous marriage — married Harris, 56, in 2014 after first being introduced by a mutual friend.
He was a fixture on the campaign trail, both during his wife's own run for president and later, when she was named Biden's running mate. Still he previously told PEOPLE that he wouldn't become an adviser to her once in office, saying, "I'm her husband, that's it."
"She's got plenty of great people giving her political advice," Emhoff said then. "I'm her partner, I'm her best friend and I'm her husband. And that's what I'm here for. I'm here to have her back."
Emhoff echoed that on Monday.
"I get to do what I hope a lot of people will do, [which] is to support their spouse and give them an opportunity to really succeed," he told reporters. "We need more strong, powerful women in government, and we need strong, powerful women in business."