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The Harvard Law School Shield

Three banners hanging outside between columns on Langdell Hall. Two read Harvard Law School. Middle one reads Veritas and Lex Et Iustitia.
Credit: Martha Stewart

Truth, Law & Justice

“I am grateful to the members of the HLS Shield Working Group and to the members of our community for taking part in the important process of establishing a new shield for Harvard Law School. I believe that the simple, elegant, and beautiful design of this shield captures the complexity, the diversity, the limitlessness, the transformative power, the strength, and the energy that the HLS community, in Cambridge and throughout the world, sees in Harvard Law School. I am also moved by the idea that, by combining the words lex et iustitia, with our shared motto veritas, we make explicit that Harvard Law School stands for truth, law, and justice.”

— John F. Manning ’85, Morgan and Helen Chu Dean and Professor of Law

A Symbol that Stands for Something

This elegant new design is reflective of Harvard Law School’s character and values. The use of expanding or diverging lines, some with no obvious beginning or end, conveys a sense of broad scope or great distance — the limitlessness of the school’s work and mission. One can also see in some applications how these radial lines can 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. These lines can also evoke the numerous paths of fulfillment and contribution that are open to an HLS graduate. And the multifaceted, radiating form — a form inspired by the architectural detail found in both Austin Hall and Hauser Hall — seeks to convey dynamism, complexity, inclusiveness, connectivity, and strength.

The traditional elements of the shield speak to the school’s history and grounding, while the more modern forms convey its ongoing evolution and aspirational nature. When combined with color, the multiple radiating lines express an internal energy, light, and strength, conveying a community with many facets and nuances, none of which alone defines it. Finally, the shield makes explicit Harvard Law School’s commitment to truth, law, and justice, underscored by the Harvard veritas printed across three open books and the incorporation of lex et iustitia.

Themes and Ideals Reflected in the Design

  • A Diverse and Pluralistic Community

    “Harvard Law School is simultaneously grand in scope, truly excellent, and diverse along many, many dimensions. It is the biggest law school in the country, with an unmatched breadth and depth. It’s been compared to a bustling city because of its physical footprint, the extensive opportunities and activities available to its students each day and every year, its student body hailing from most U.S. states and countries in the world, and its large and energetic full-time and adjunct faculty representing a broad array of disciplines and expertise. You will find at HLS an almost endless array of subjects, approaches, methodologies, ideologies, aspirations, backgrounds, and lived experiences. Many students cite this breadth and scope and diversity as a reason they came to HLS … The School’s reach is unparalleled.”

  • Leadership that Changes the World for the Better

    Harvard Law School has produced transformative leaders from generation to generation, in field after field, in every corner of the globe … HLS alumni have made important, game-changing contributions in private practice, public interest, government service, entrepreneurship, finance, technology, nonprofits, education, professional sports, the arts, and beyond … Harvard Law School has also played a transformative role in legal education and legal scholarship … Stakeholders proudly see themselves as part of HLS’s legacy of excellence, even while also appropriately asking difficult questions and challenging the conventions of the past.

  • The Fundamental Pursuit of Law and Justice

    The law is “an essential part of the fabric of civilization, embodying commitments to the rule of law, equal justice under law, due process, and democratic self-governance, among others … Lawyers deploy facts and arguments and reason to make broad commitments to justice concrete and actionable. In other words, law provides a process for society to work out what justice entails and the means by which we give life and meaning and content to that fundamental concept. The Law School trains our students not only how to invoke the legal process in advocating for justice, but also how to criticize and seek to change the process itself.”

“An important theme is the aspiration of the law. That this is an unending process of pursing justice and the notion that the law itself is aspirational, imperfect, and always in a process of evolution. It’s why students come to the law school, and why people look to the law school.”

HLS Faculty Member

The HLS Shield Working Group

  • Annette Gordon-Reed ’84, the Carl M. Loeb University Professor (Working Group Chair)
  • John Arciprete, Chief of Operations
  • I. Glenn Cohen ’03, Deputy Dean, James A. Attwood and Leslie Williams Professor of Law and Faculty Director of Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology and Bioethics
  • Daniel Eaton ’89, former president of the Harvard Law School Association and a Partner with Seltzer Caplan McMahon Vitek
  • Edi Ebiefung ’22
  • Melodie Jackson, Associate Dean for Communications and Public Affairs
  • Catherine Katz ’23
  • Amreeta Mathai ’12, Staff Attorney with the ACLU’s Racial Justice Program
  • Jessica Soban ’07, Dean for Student Services

Design Team

Drawing inspiration from the input gathered from the HLS community, including the key themes that emerged, the Working Group collaborated with PopKitchen and Studio Rainwater to develop the new shield.