Benjamin W. Heineman

Lecturer on Law

Fall 2021


Ben W. Heineman, Jr. was GE’s Senior Vice President-General Counsel from 1987-2003, and then Senior Vice President for Law and Public Affairs from 2004 until his retirement at the end of 2005. He is currently Senior Fellow at Harvard Law School’s Program on the Legal Profession and its Program on Corporate Governance, Senior Fellow at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. He has also been a lecturer at Yale Law School. A Rhodes Scholar, editor-in-chief of the Yale Law Journal and law clerk to Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart, Mr. Heineman was assistant secretary for policy at the Department of Health, Education and Welfare and practiced public interest law and constitutional law prior to his service at GE. His new book, The Inside Counsel Revolution: Resolving the Partner-Guardian Tension, was published in the Spring of 2016 by Ankerwycke, the trade imprint of the American Bar Association. Another recent book, High Performance with High Integrity, was published in June 2008 by the Harvard Business Press. He writes and lectures frequently on business, law, public policy and international affairs. He is also the author of books on British race relations and the American presidency.

He is a member of the American Philosophical Society, a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a former member of the National Academy of Science’s Committee on Science, Technology and Law. He is recipient of the American Lawyer magazine’s Lifetime Achievement Award, the Lifetime Achievement Award of Corporate Counsel magazine and the Lifetime Achievement Award of Board Member magazine. He was named one of the top 50 Innovators in Law in the Past 50 Years by the American Lawyer, one of America’s 100 most influential lawyers by the National Law Journal, one of the 100 most influential individuals on business ethics by Ethisphere Magazine and one of the 100 most influential people in corporate governance by the National Association of Corporate Directors. He serves on the boards of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Central European University and Transparency International-USA. He is a graduate of Harvard College (BA-history), Oxford University (B.Litt—political sociology) and Yale Law School (JD).

Areas of Interest

Ben W. Heineman, Jr., William F. Lee & David B. Wilkins, Lawyers as Professionals and Citizens: Key Roles and Responsibilities in the 21st Century (Harv. Law Sch. Ctr. on the Legal Profession 2014).
Legal Profession
Legal Services
Type: Other
This essay presents a practical vision of the responsibilities of lawyers as both professionals and as citizens at the beginning of the 21st century. Specifically, we seek to define and give content to four ethical responsibilities that we believe are of signal importance to lawyers in their fundamental roles as expert technicians, wise counselors, and effective leaders: responsibilities to their clients and stakeholders; responsibilities to the legal system; responsibilities to their institutions; and responsibilities to society at large. Our fundamental point is that the ethical dimensions of lawyering for this era must be given equal attention to—and must be highlighted and integrated with—the significant economic, political, and cultural changes affecting major legal institutions and the people and institutions lawyers serve.

Current Courses

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