|Harvard Law School|
|Motto|| Veritas (Truth) |
Lex et Iustitia (Law and justice)
|Parent school||Harvard University|
|School type||Private law school|
|Dean||John F. Manning|
|Location||Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States|
|USNWR ranking||4th (2023)|
|Bar pass rate||99% (2019)|
Harvard Law School (Harvard Law or HLS) is the law school of Harvard University, a private research university in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Founded in 1817, it is the oldest continuously operating law school in the United States.
Each class in the three-year JD program has approximately 560 students, among the largest of the top 150 ranked law schools in the United States.The first-year class is broken into seven sections of approximately 80 students, who take most first-year classes together. Aside from the JD program, Harvard also awards both LLM and SJD degrees. Harvard's uniquely large class size and prestige have led the law school to graduate a great many distinguished alumni in the judiciary, government, and the business world.
According to Harvard Law's 2020 ABA-required disclosures, 99% of 2019 graduates passed the bar exam.The school's graduates accounted for more than one-quarter of all Supreme Court clerks between 2000 and 2010, more than any other law school in the United States.
Harvard Law School's founding is traditionally linked to the funding of Harvard's first professorship in law, paid for from a bequest from the estate of Isaac Royall Jr., a colonial American landowner and slaveowner. Today, HLS is home to the largest academic law library in the worldas well as 135 full-time faculty members.
Harvard Law School's founding is traced to the establishment of a 'law department' at Harvard in 1817.Dating the founding to the year of the creation of the law department makes Harvard Law School the oldest continuously operating law school in the United States. William & Mary Law School opened first in 1779, but it closed due to the American Civil War, reopening in 1920. The University of Maryland School of Law was chartered in 1816 but did not begin classes until 1824, and it also closed during the Civil War.
The founding of the law department came two years after the establishment of Harvard's first endowed professorship in law, funded by a bequest from the estate of wealthy slave-owner Isaac Royall Jr., in 1817.Royall left roughly 1,000 acres of land in Massachusetts to Harvard when he died in exile in Nova Scotia, where he fled to as a Loyalist during the American Revolution, in 1781, "to be appropriated towards the endowing a Professor of Laws ... or a Professor of Physick and Anatomy, whichever the said overseers and Corporation [of the college] shall judge to be best." The value of the land, when fully liquidated in 1809, was $2,938; the Harvard Corporation allocated $400 from the income generated by those funds to create the Royall Professorship of Law in 1815. The Royalls were so involved in the slave trade, that "the labor of slaves underwrote the teaching of law in Cambridge." The dean of the law school traditionally held the Royall chair; deans Elena Kagan and Martha Minow declined the Royall chair due to its origins in the proceeds of slavery.
The Royall family's coat of arms, which shows three stacked wheat sheaves on a blue background, was adopted as part of the law school's arms in 1936, topped with the university's motto (Veritas, Latin for 'truth').Until the school began investigating its connections with slavery in the 2010s, most alumni and faculty at the time were unaware of the origins of the arms. In March 2016, following requests by students, the school decided to remove the emblem because of its association with slavery. In November 2019, Harvard announced that a working group had been tasked to develop a new emblem. In August 2021, the new Harvard Law School emblem was introduced.
Royall's Medford estate, the Isaac Royall House, is now a museum which features the only remaining slave quarters in the northeast United States. In 2019, the government of Antigua and Barbuda requested reparations from Harvard Law School on the ground that it benefitted from Royall's enslavement of people in the country.
By 1827, the school, with one faculty member, was struggling. Nathan Dane, a prominent alumnus of the college, then endowed the Dane Professorship of Law, insisting that it be given to then Supreme Court Justice Joseph Story. For a while, the school was called "Dane Law School."In 1829, John H. Ashmun, son of Eli Porter Ashmun and brother of George Ashmun, accepted a professorship and closed his Northampton Law School, with many of his students following him to Harvard. Story's belief in the need for an elite law school based on merit and dedicated to public service helped build the school's reputation at the time, although the contours of these beliefs have not been consistent throughout its history. Enrollment remained low through the 19th century as university legal education was considered to be of little added benefit to apprenticeships in legal practice. After first trying lowered admissions standards, in 1848 HLS eliminated admissions requirements entirely. In 1869, HLS also eliminated examination requirements.
In the 1870s, under Dean Christopher Columbus Langdell, HLS introduced what has become the standard first-year curriculum for American law schools – including classes in contracts, property, torts, criminal law, and civil procedure. At Harvard, Langdell also developed the case method of teaching law, now the dominant pedagogical model at U.S. law schools. Langdell's notion that law could be studied as a "science" gave university legal education a reason for being distinct from vocational preparation. Critics at first defended the old lecture method because it was faster and cheaper and made fewer demands on faculty and students. Advocates said the case method had a sounder theoretical basis in scientific research and the inductive method. Langdell's graduates became leading professors at other law schools where they introduced the case method. The method was facilitated by casebooks. From its founding in 1900, the Association of American Law Schools promoted the case method in law schools that sought accreditation.
During the 20th century, Harvard Law School was known for its competitiveness. For example, Bob Berring called it "a samurai ring where you can test your swordsmanship against the swordsmanship of the strongest intellectual warriors from around the nation."When Langdell developed the original law school curriculum, Harvard President Charles Eliot told him to make it "hard and long." An urban legend holds that incoming students are told to "Look to your left, look to your right, because one of you won't be here by the end of the year." Scott Turow's memoir One L and John Jay Osborn's novel The Paper Chase describe such an environment. Trailing many of its peers, Harvard Law did not admit women as students until 1950, for the class of 1953.
Eleanor Kerlow's book Poisoned Ivy: How Egos, Ideology, and Power Politics Almost Ruined Harvard Law School criticized the school for a 1980s political dispute between newer and older faculty members over accusations of insensitivity to minority and feminist issues. Divisiveness over such issues as political correctness lent the school the title "Beirut on the Charles."
In Broken Contract: A Memoir of Harvard Law School, Richard Kahlenberg criticized the school for driving students away from public interest and toward work in high-paying law firms. Kahlenberg's criticisms are supported by Granfield and Koenig's study, which found that "students [are directed] toward service in the most prestigious law firms, both because they learn that such positions are their destiny and because the recruitment network that results from collective eminence makes these jobs extremely easy to obtain."The school has also been criticized for its large first year class sizes (at one point there were 140 students per classroom; in 2001 there were 80), a cold and aloof administration, and an inaccessible faculty. The latter stereotype is a central plot element of The Paper Chase and appears in Legally Blonde .
In response to the above criticisms, HLS eventually implemented the once-criticizedbut now dominant approach pioneered by Dean Robert Hutchins at Yale Law School, of shifting the competitiveness to the admissions process while making law school itself a more cooperative experience. Robert Granfield and Thomas Koenig's 1992 study of Harvard Law students that appeared in The Sociological Quarterly found that students "learn to cooperate with rather than compete against classmates," and that contrary to "less eminent" law schools, students "learn that professional success is available for all who attend, and that therefore, only neurotic 'gunners' try to outdo peers."
Under Kagan, the second half of the 2000s saw significant academic changes since the implementation of the Langdell curriculum. In 2006, the faculty voted unanimously to approve a new first-year curriculum, placing greater emphasis on problem-solving, administrative law, and international law. The new curriculum was implemented in stages over the next several years,with the last new course, a first year practice-oriented problem solving workshop, being instituted in January 2010. In late 2008, the faculty decided that the school should move to an Honors/Pass/Low Pass/Fail (H/P/LP/F) grading system, much like those in place at Yale and Stanford Law Schools. The system applied to half the courses taken by students in the Class of 2010 and fully started with the Class of 2011.
In 2009, Kagan was appointed solicitor general of the United States by President Barack Obama and resigned the deanship. On June 11, 2009, Harvard University president, Drew Gilpin Faust named Martha Minow as the new dean. She assumed the position on July 1, 2009. On January 3, 2017, Minow announced that she would conclude her tenure as dean at the end of the academic year.In June 2017, John F. Manning was named as the new dean, effective as of July 1, 2017.
In September 2017, the school unveiled a plaque acknowledging the indirect role played by slavery in its history:
In honor of the enslaved whose labor created wealth that made possible the founding of Harvard Law SchoolMay we pursue the highest ideals of law and justice in their memory
The acceptance rate for the JD Class of 2024 was 6.8%.HLS was ranked as the fourth best law school in the United States (in a tie with Columbia Law School, and trailing only Yale Law School, Stanford Law School, and the University of Chicago Law School) by U.S. News & World Report in its 2023 rankings, the most widely referenced rankings publisher in the American legal community. HLS was also ranked first, with a perfect overall assessment score of 100.0, by QS World University Rankings in 2019. It is also ranked first by the 2019 Academic Ranking of World Universities.
This section needs to be updated.(October 2019)
According to the school's employment summary for 2020 graduates, 86.8% were employed in bar passage required jobs and another 5.3% were employed in J.D. advantage jobs.
The cost of tuition for the 2022-2023 school year (9 month term) is $72,430. A Mandatory HUHS Student Health Fee is $1,304, bringing the total direct costs for the 2022-2023 school year to $73,734.
The total cost of attendance (indicating the cost of tuition, fees, and living expenses) at Harvard Law for the 2021–2022 academic year is $104,200.
In 2016, the governing body of the university, the Harvard Corporation, voted to retire the law school's 80-year-old heraldic shield. The shield, depicting three garbs (the heraldic term for wheat sheaves), was based in part upon the coat of arms of Isaac Royall Jr., a university benefactor who had endowed the first professorship in the law school. The shield had become a source of contention among a group of law school students, who objected to the Royall family's history as slave-owners.
The president of the university and dean of the law school, acting upon the recommendation of a committee formed to study the issue, ultimately agreed with its majority decision,that the shield was inconsistent with the values of both the university and the law school. Their recommendation was ultimately adopted by the Harvard Corporation and on March 15, 2016, the shield was ordered retired.
On August 23, 2021, it was announced that a new shield was approved by the Harvard Corporation. The new design features Harvard's traditional motto, Veritas (Latin for 'truth'), resting above the Latin phrase Lex et Iustitia, meaning 'law and justice'. According to the HLS Shield Working Group's final report, the expanding or diverging lines, some with no obvious beginning or end, are meant to convey a sense of broad scope or great distance — the limitlessness of the school's work and mission. The radial lines also allude to the latitudinal and longitudinal lines that define the arc of the earth, conveying the global reach of the Law School's community and impact. The multifaceted, radiating form — a form inspired by architectural details found in both Austin Hall and Hauser Hall — seeks to convey dynamism, complexity, inclusiveness, connectivity, and strength.
Harvard Law School has more than 90 student organizations that are active on campus.These organizations include the student-edited journals, Harvard Law Record , and the HLS Drama Society, which organizes the annual Harvard Law School Parody , the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau as well as other political, social, service, and athletic groups.
HLS Student Government is the primary governing, advocacy, and representative body for Law School students. In addition, students are represented at the university level by the Harvard Graduate Council.
This section needs additional citations for verification .(March 2016)
Students of the Juris Doctor (JD) program are involved in preparing and publishing the Harvard Law Review , one of the most highly cited university law reviews, as well as a number of other law journals and an independent student newspaper. The Harvard Law Review was first published in 1887 and has been staffed and edited by some of the school's most notable alumni.
In addition to the journal, the Harvard Law Review Association, in conjunction with the Columbia Law Review, University of Pennsylvania Law Review, and Yale Law Journal also publishes The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation , the most widely followed authority for legal citation formats in the United States.
The student newspaper, the Harvard Law Record , has been published continuously since the 1940s, making it one of the oldest law school newspapers in the country, and has included the exploits of fictional law student Fenno for decades.The Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance and Financial Regulation, formerly known as the Harvard Law School Corporate Governance Blog, is one of the most widely read law websites in the country.
The Harvard Law Bulletin is the magazine of record for Harvard Law School.The Harvard Law Bulletin was first published in April 1948. The magazine is currently published twice a year, but in previous years has been published four or six times a year. The magazine was first published online in fall 1997.
Harvard's prestige and large class size have enabled it to graduate a large number of distinguished alumni.
Rutherford B. Hayes, the 19th president of the United States, graduated from HLS. Additionally, Barack Obama, the 44th president of the United States, graduated from HLS and was president of the Harvard Law Review. His wife, Michelle Obama, is also a graduate of Harvard Law School. Past presidential candidates who are HLS graduates, include Michael Dukakis, Ralph Nader and Mitt Romney. Eight sitting U.S. senators are alumni of HLS: Romney, Ted Cruz, Mike Crapo, Tim Kaine, Jack Reed, Chuck Schumer, Tom Cotton, and Mark Warner.
Other legal and political leaders who attended HLS include former president of Taiwan, Ma Ying-jeou, and former vice president Annette Lu; the incumbent Chief Justice of the Court of Final Appeal of Hong Kong, Andrew Cheung Kui-nung; former chief justice of the Republic of the Philippines, Renato Corona; chief justice, Sundaresh Menon; former president of the World Bank Group, Robert Zoellick; former United Nations high commissioner for human rights, Navanethem Pillay; the former president of Ireland, Mary Robinson; Lady Arden, Justice of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom and Solomon Areda Waktolla, Deputy Chief Justice of the Federal Supreme Court of Ethiopia. Deputy Chief Justice Solomon Areda Waktolla is also member of the Court of the Permanent Court of Arbitration.
Lobsang Sangay is the first elected sikyong of the Tibetan Government in Exile. In 2004, he earned a S.J.D. degree from Harvard Law School and was a recipient of the 2004 Yong K. Kim' 95 Prize of excellence for his dissertation "Democracy in Distress: Is Exile Polity a Remedy? A Case Study of Tibet's Government-in-exile".
Sixteen of the school's graduates have served on the Supreme Court of the United States, more than any other law school. Four of the current nine members of the court graduated from HLS: the chief justice, John Roberts; associate justices Neil Gorsuch; Ketanji Brown Jackson; and Elena Kagan, who also served as the dean of Harvard Law School, from 2003 to 2009. Past Supreme Court justices from Harvard Law School include Antonin Scalia, David Souter, Harry Blackmun, William J. Brennan, Louis Brandeis, Felix Frankfurter, Lewis Powell (LLM), and Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., among others. Ruth Bader Ginsburg attended Harvard Law School for two years.
Attorneys General Loretta Lynch, Alberto Gonzales, and Janet Reno, among others, and noted federal judges Richard Posner of the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, Michael Boudin of the First Circuit Court of Appeals, Joseph A. Greenaway of the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, Laurence Silberman of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, Lawrence VanDyke of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, and Pierre Leval of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, among many other judicial figures, graduated from the school. The former Commonwealth solicitor general of Australia and current justice of the High Court of Australia, Stephen Gageler, senior counsel graduated from Harvard with an LL.M.
Many HLS alumni are leaders and innovators in the business world. Its graduates include the current senior chairman of Goldman Sachs, Lloyd Blankfein; former chief executive officer of Reddit, Ellen Pao; current chairman of the board and majority owner of National Amusements Sumner Redstone; current president and CEO of TIAA-CREF, Roger W. Ferguson Jr.; current CEO and chairman of Toys "R" Us, Gerald L. Storch; and former CEO of Delta Air Lines, Gerald Grinstein, among many others.
Legal scholars who graduated from Harvard Law include Payam Akhavan, William P. Alford, Rachel Barkow, Yochai Benkler, Alexander Bickel, Andrew Burrows, Erwin Chemerinsky, Amy Chua, Sujit Choudhry, Robert C. Clark, Hugh Collins, James Duane (professor), I. Glenn Cohen, Ronald Dworkin, Christopher Edley Jr., Melvin A. Eisenberg, Susan Estrich, Jody Freeman, Gerald Gunther, Andrew T. Guzman, Louis Henkin, Harold Koh, Richard J. Lazarus, Arthur R. Miller, Gerald L. Neuman, Eric Posner, Richard Posner, John Mark Ramseyer, Jed Rubenfeld, Lewis Sargentich, John Sexton, Jeannie Suk, Kathleen Sullivan, Cass Sunstein, Laurence Tribe, Edwin R. Keedy, C. Raj Kumarand Tim Wu.
In sports, David Otunga is the first and only Harvard Law alum to work for WWE. He is a two-time WWE Tag Team Champion.
The Paper Chase is a novel set amid a student's first ("One L") year at the school. It was written by John Jay Osborn, Jr., who studied at the school. The book was later turned into a film and a television series (see below).
Scott Turow wrote a memoir of his experience as a first-year law student at Harvard, One L .
Several movies and television shows take place at least in part at the school. Most of them have scenes filmed on location at or around Harvard University. They include:
Many popular movies and television shows also feature characters introduced as Harvard Law School graduates. The central plot point of the TV series Suits is that one of the main characters did not attend Harvard but fakes his graduate status in order to practice law.
The Juris Doctor degree, also known as Doctor of Law or Doctor of Jurisprudence, is a graduate-entry professional degree in law and one of several Doctor of Law degrees. Although a graduate degree, the J.D. is the standard degree obtained to practice law in the United States because there is no 'law degree' at the undergraduate level. In the United States, along with Australia, Canada, and some other common law countries, the J.D. is earned by completing law school.
Columbia Law School is the law school of Columbia University, a private Ivy League university in New York City. Columbia Law is widely regarded as one of the most prestigious law schools in the world and has always ranked in the top five schools in the United States since the establishment of the law school rankings by U.S. News & World Report in 1987. Columbia Law is especially well known for its strength in corporate law and its placement power in the nation's elite law firms.
Stanford Law School is the law school of Stanford University, a private research university near Palo Alto, California. Established in 1893, it is consistently regarded as one of the most prestigious law schools in the world. Stanford Law has been ranked among the top three law schools in the United States every year since 1992. Since 2019, Jennifer Martínez has served as its dean.
Yale Law School is the law school of Yale University, a private Ivy League research university in New Haven, Connecticut. It was established in 1824 and has been the top-ranked law school in the United States by U.S. News & World Report every year since the magazine began publishing law school rankings in the 1980s. One of the most selective academic institutions in the world, the 2020-21 acceptance rate was 4%, the lowest of any law school in the United States. Its yield rate of 87% is also consistently the highest of any law school in the United States.
Vermont Law and Graduate School (VLGS) is a private law and public policy graduate school in South Royalton, Vermont. It offers several degrees, including Juris Doctor (JD), Master of Laws (LLM) in Environmental Law, Master of Environmental Law and Policy (MELP), Master of Food and Agriculture Law and Policy (MFALP), Master of Energy Regulation and Law (MERL), and dual degrees with a diverse range of institutions. According to the school's 2018 ABA-required disclosures, 61.5% of the Class of 2018 obtained full-time, long-term, JD-required employment nine months after graduation.
The Georgetown University Law Center is the law school of Georgetown University, a private research university in Washington, D.C. It was established in 1870 and is the largest law school in the United States by enrollment and the most applied to, receiving more full-time applications than any other law school in the country.
Boston University School of Law is the law school of Boston University, a private research university in Boston, Massachusetts. It is consistently ranked among the top law schools in the United States and considered an elite American graduate legal institution.
The Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law is the law school of Yeshiva University. Located in New York City and founded in 1976, the school is named for Supreme Court Justice Benjamin N. Cardozo. Cardozo graduated its first class in 1979. An LL.M. program was established in 1998. Cardozo is nondenominational and has a secular curriculum, in contrast to some of YU's undergraduate programs. Around 320 students begin the J.D. program per year, of whom about 57% are women. In addition, there are about 60-70 LL.M. students each year. Cardozo is ranked 52nd in the nation by U.S. News & World Report 2023.
The University of Virginia School of Law is the law school of the University of Virginia, a public research university in Charlottesville, Virginia. It was founded in 1819 by Thomas Jefferson as part of his "academical village" which became University of Virginia where law was one of the original disciplines taught. UVA Law is the fourth-oldest active law school in the United States and the second-oldest continuously operating law school. The law school offers the J.D., LL.M., and S.J.D. degrees in law and hosts visiting scholars, visiting researchers and a number of legal research centers.
Doctor of Juridical Science, Doctor of the Science of Law, Scientiae Juridicae Doctor (S.J.D.) or Juridicae Scientiae Doctor (J.S.D.), is a research doctorate in law equivalent to the more commonly awarded research doctorate, the Ph.D.
The Antonin Scalia Law School is the law school of George Mason University, a public research university in Virginia. It is located in Arlington, Virginia, roughly 4 miles (6.4 km) west of Washington, D.C., and 15 miles (24 km) east-northeast of George Mason University's main campus in Fairfax, Virginia.
The American University Washington College of Law is the law school of American University, a private research university in Washington, D.C. It is located on the western side of Tenley Circle in the Tenleytown section of northwest Washington, D.C. The school is accredited by the American Bar Association and a member of the AALS.
Legal education in the United States generally refers to a graduate degree, the completion of which makes a graduate eligible to sit for an examination for a license to practice as a Lawyer. Around 60 percent of those who complete a law degree typically practice law, with the remainder primarily working in business or government or policy roles, where their degrees also confer advantages.
University of Illinois Chicago School of Law is a public law school in Chicago, Illinois. Founded in 1899, the school offers programs for both part-time and full-time students, with both day and night classes available, and offers January enrollment.
Northeastern University School of Law(NUSL) is the law school of Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts. Founded as an evening program to meet the needs of its local community, Northeastern law school is nationally recognized for its cooperative legal education and public interest law programs.
The USC Gould School of Law, located in Los Angeles, California, is the law school of the University of Southern California. The oldest law school in the Southwestern United States, USC Law traces its beginnings to 1896 and became affiliated with USC in 1900. It was named in honor of Judge James Gould in the mid-1960s.
Harvard College, around which Harvard University eventually grew, was founded in 1636 in Cambridge, Massachusetts, making it the oldest institution of higher learning in the United States.
A legal clinic is a legal aid or law school program providing services to various clients and often hands-on-legal experience to law school students. Clinics are usually directed by clinical professors. Legal clinics typically do pro bono work in a particular area, providing free legal services to clients.
The City University of New York School of Law is a public law school in New York City. It was founded in 1983 as part of the City University of New York. CUNY School of Law was established as a public interest law school with a curriculum focused on integrating clinical teaching methods within traditional legal studies.
Danielle Gray is the former Assistant to the President, Cabinet Secretary, and a Senior Advisor to U.S. President Barack Obama. Previously, Gray served as Deputy Director of the National Economic Council and Deputy Assistant to the President for Economic Policy. Gray is currently executive vice president and global chief legal officer of Walgreen Boots Alliance.
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