A start-up in 1817, Harvard Law School explored the new territory of university-based training for lawyers and leaders. Two hundred years later, after a few bumps (for example, in 1827, the school struggled to attract students), HLS has not only endured but grown to play a major role in the life of this nation and the entire world. When Supreme Court Justice Joseph Story joined the faculty in 1829, he forged traditions of outstanding scholarship, memorable teaching, public service and recruitment of the most talented students. Our students ever since have become prominent jurists, political and business leaders, change agents and forces for justice. Our faculty members shape legal education around the world.
In our third century, these traditions continue. We pursue a “start-up” mentality, taking risks to innovate in what and how we teach. With courses on entrepreneurship, we help students grow new businesses and nonprofit organizations. The Law School innovates in cyberlaw, bioethics and biotechnology, energy and environmental law, corporate governance and dispute resolution. We instill and honor devotion to public service—and offer students the financial flexibility to undertake service during their careers. More than 100 years ago, HLS students formed an organization to provide legal aid to the poor and thus created the first student-run legal services program in the country. Today, we have 40 clinics and practice organizations. Clinical and experiential education are fundamental to the mission of HLS.
We recruit and support the most talented, resourceful and indefatigable students, faculty and staff. We work to ensure access to our programs and the careers students seek, regardless of their financial positions. And our students learn rigorous problem-solving skills to use in any arena, anywhere in the world.
As we celebrate our first 200 years, we are asking hard questions about how best to advance justice around the world, how to improve legal education and how to prepare students for questions we do not yet know to ask. We are grateful for your support. Please join the Campaign for the Third Century—and help invent the future!
Former Dean of Harvard Law School
View our Campaign casebook (PDF).