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Carol S. Steiker

Henry J. Friendly Professor of Law

Special Advisor for Public Service

Carol S. Steiker
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Carol Steiker is the Henry J. Friendly Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, where she serves as the Dean’s Special Advisor for Public Service. She also served as Faculty Co-Director of the Harvard Criminal Justice Policy Program from 2015-2020. Professor Steiker specializes in the broad field of criminal justice, where her work ranges from substantive criminal law to criminal procedure to institutional design, with a special focus on capital punishment. Her most recent books are Comparative Capital Punishment, co-edited with her brother Jordan Steiker (Edward Elgar 2019) and Courting Death: The Supreme Court and Capital Punishment, co-authored with Jordan Steiker (The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press 2016).

Professor Steiker is a graduate of Harvard Law School, where she served as president of the Harvard Law Review, the second woman to hold that position in its then 99-year history. After clerking for Judge J. Skelly Wright of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals and Justice Thurgood Marshall of the U.S. Supreme Court, she worked as a staff attorney for the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia, where she represented indigent defendants at all stages of the criminal process. In addition to her scholarly work, Professor Steiker has done pro bono work for indigent criminal defendants, including death penalty cases in the U.S. Supreme Court, and she was appointed to the board of the Committee for Public Counsel Services, the statewide public defender for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. She has served as a consultant and expert witness on issues of criminal justice and capital punishment for non-profit organizations and has testified before Congress and state legislatures.

Clinic Work

Professor Steiker is the Harvard faculty sponsor of the Capital Punishment clinic, through which students are placed in externships during the Winter Term and continue their clinical work remotely during the Spring Term.

Academic Appointment and Employment History

  • Staff attorney, Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia (1988 - 1992)
    I represented indigent defendants at all stages of the criminal process.
    District of Columbia, District of Columbia, United States


  • J. Skelly Wright, U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, 1986 - 1987
  • Thurgood Marshall, U.S. Supreme Court, 1987 - 1988

Board Memberships

  • Committee member, Committee for Public Counsel Services (2011 - Present)
    Boston, Massachusetts, United States

Representative Publications

View all publications by Carol S. Steiker