As an educator and writer, Dorean Koenig has influenced national and international law. Nationally, she worked against the death penalty, co-chairing the Death Penalty Committee of the Individual Rights and Responsibilities Section of the American Bar Association. She wrote initial drafts and participated in committee drafting of standards to protect severely mentally ill defendants from the death penalty. These standards were then adopted by the American Psychiatric Association and the American Psychological Association. Koenig successfully litigated, with Deval Patrick, a last appeal in a Florida death penalty case that resulted in a unanimous verdict from the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, overturning the death sentence. Koenig was the first female tenured law professor at The Thomas M. Cooley Law School and has taught there for over 30 years.
Internationally, Koenig participated in drafting the Syracusa Draft, which became the basis for the Rome Treaty that created the International Criminal Court. This court operates in The Hague and is the first worldwide court with jurisdiction over individuals for crimes against humanity, genocide, and war crimes. Koenig also wrote initial drafts and participated in committee writing of international death penalty standards. Koenig co-edited Women and International Human Rights Law with her former student Kelly Askin. The three volume series reviews the status of women’s human rights around the world.
Koenig’s early work included establishing a personal bond program in the Detroit Recorder’s Court, creating one of the first all women legal professional corporations in Michigan, drafting the first set of Standardized Criminal Jury Instructions for a blue-ribbon committee of the Michigan State Bar, and supervising new lawyers in the Detroit office of the Court of Appeals.