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David Wilkins

  • Portrait of Justice Chandrachud

    HLS alum named the next Chief Justice of India

    October 26, 2022

    D.Y. Chandrachud LL.M. ’83 S.J.D. ’86, who has served on the Supreme Court of India since 2016, has been appointed to serve as the next Chief Justice of India.

  • A woman in a red dress speaking David Wilkins in the background

    No C-suite is an island

    September 21, 2022

    During the daylong conference “Reimagining the Role of Business in the Public Square,” panelists weighed the responsibilities corporations have to the country and exchanged ideas about how to move firms further on their environmental, social, and governance — or ESG — pledges.

  • What Does It Mean To Be a Corporate Citizen?

    September 20, 2022

    “There could really be no more important discussion than the one we are having today,” said Kissel professor of law David Wilkins last Thursday, introducing…

  • Lawyers Join In Reimagining Role Of Public Companies

    September 16, 2022

    Speakers cited everything from the late Queen Elizabeth’s commitment to the environment to the founder of Patagonia giving away his $3 billion company, but the…

  • David Wilkins.

    ‘These are the most important problems for our society to grapple with’

    September 7, 2022

    Harvard Law School Professor David Wilkins, the faculty director of the Harvard Law School Center on the Legal Profession, says corporations are increasingly under pressure "to change the way in which they relate to the world, relate to the environment, relate to their stakeholders, and relate to broader issues around social justice."

  • Big Law Talent Poachers Wrestle to Keep Star Hires on Board

    August 29, 2022

    Law firms that poached attorneys from rivals at record levels in the past two years confront a challenge in preventing the high-priced talent from bolting…

  • An illustration of Lady Justice in white blindfolded with a mask to prevent COVID which is represented by red dots scattered around

    Practicing Law in the Wake of a Pandemic

    July 15, 2022

    ‘Everyone is struggling to understand what this new world is going to look like’

  • Russia Office Closures ‘Incredibly Difficult’ for Big Law Firms

    April 11, 2022

    Global law firms that announced plans to close Russia offices after the Ukraine invasion now face the challenge of carrying out their goal while complying with labor, immigration and sanctions laws. Employers that want to fire employees in a closure must navigate a Russia law that generally bars dismissing certain worker classes, such as single mothers, according to labor and employment law firm Littler Mendelson. ... Firms leaving Russia are likely calculating whether they can return there someday, said David Wilkins, director of Harvard Law School’s Center on the Legal Profession, in a written statement. Those decisions “will probably depend upon what—if any—peace deal is struck and whether the firms either can or want to go back to doing Russian work,” Wilkins said.

  • Survey Says New ESG Risks Add To Pressures On Law Depts.

    April 8, 2022

    In a new survey, the majority of corporate legal departments say they are facing rising challenges over environmental, social and governance, or ESG, issues, but they are without clear guidance from regulators and lack the expertise, resources and support from the C-suite to handle the risks. As the range of ESG risks expands, a whopping 99% of general counsel respondents said they expect a sharp increase in volumes of work, according to a study released today by EY Law and the Harvard Law School Center on the Legal Profession. ... Professor David Wilkins, vice dean for global initiatives on the legal profession and faculty director of the Harvard Center, said in a Law360 interview that he shares Grossman's view of the general counsel's predicament. "A lot of these issues are ending up on the general counsel's desk in the form of a crisis," Wilkins explained, such as an employee walkout at Disney World last month, or investor demands for leadership change, as happened at ExxonMobil last year when several directors were ousted.

  • a vertical combined image of five HLS black lawyers

    ‘Lawyering and justice in a world that we know is riven by injustice’

    March 22, 2022

    “This is a unique moment, particularly to be a Black law student,” Harvard Law School Professor David B. Wilkins ’80, told an audience of students during a talk titled Black Lawyers Matter — Race, Obligation, and Professionalism from the Civil Rights Movement to BLM and Black Corporate Power.

  • GC Cheat Sheet: The Hottest Corporate News Of The Week

    January 24, 2022

    The U.S. Senate will soon consider an antitrust bill aimed at restricting Big Tech's search practices, and the clash between Tesla CEO Elon Musk and Cooley LLP leads to ethical questions about when a law firm is duty-bound to ignore a big corporate client's wishes. These are some of the stories in corporate legal news you may have missed in the past week. ... Law professor David Wilkins, director of the Harvard Law School Center on the Legal Profession, said based on the story's facts that such a request was "absolutely outrageous." Clients can ask to remove an attorney they don't like from working on the clients' matters, Wilkins told Law360 Pulse, but they have no right to ask a firm to fire the lawyer.

  • BigLaw’s Big Guns Of Revenue Keep Growing

    December 15, 2021

    The widening revenue gap between a handful of legal titans that pull in billions each year and other law firms will only continue to grow, experts say, resulting in a market consolidation that will likely give them a competitive advantage even over their BigLaw peers. The 10 law firms with the highest gross revenue accounted for nearly 29% of the total $98.7 billion in revenue posted by the 129 firms that supplied or confirmed revenue data for Law360 Pulse's Prestige Leaders report. ... Firms that grow rapidly may not necessarily stay profitable or boost revenue if they acquire various assets that have different levels of profitability. "Just ask our old friends at Dewey & LeBoeuf," said David Wilkins, faculty director of the Center on the Legal Profession and the Center for Lawyers and the Professional Services Industry at Harvard Law School. ... "There are a lot of firms who embarked on an incredible acquisition spree to grow themselves and have grown themselves into unprofitability or failure because of it," Wilkins said.

  • Illustration of three business people wearing face masks and using a giant umbrella to shield themselves and a giant earth from a rain of viruses.

    ‘Don’t just be a lawyer. Be a strategist’

    November 10, 2021

    The Center on the Legal Profession convenes experts from public and private sectors for a day-long symposium on crisis lawyering.

  • One woman and two men speaking at a meeting (one of the men is President Obama)

    In the Situation Room

    October 5, 2021

    Professor David B. Wilkins, faculty director of the Center on the Legal Profession at Harvard Law School, recently sat down with Jeh Charles Johnson, a partner at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP who served as the secretary of Homeland Security from 2013 to 2017 during the Obama Administration.

  • Big Four muscle in on new type of City work

    September 3, 2021

    Big Four accountancy firms have abandoned plans to ‘be like law firms only bigger’, instead focusing on work that traditional City firms turn down in a drive to disrupt the market, a report has found. ...‘The Big Four can offer a far higher integration of technology, project management and process management; they employ a huge number of people across a huge range of specialties and they are way more global than even the most global law firm,' said report author David Wilkins, professor of law at Harvard Law School. 'This is why, for many kinds of issues that companies face, it’s a very attractive offering'.  

  • CEOs Want Data-Based Risk Management; GCs Lack the Tech to Do So.

    April 19, 2021

    CEOs are frustrated. They seek greater transparency from their legal departments to understand and control their risk management programs. General counsel are frustrated in turn: they say they do not have the technology or data to do so, according to an Ernst + Young report published earlier this month. Sixty-one percent of the CEOs interviewed for the report said they would like their legal departments to take a more data-driven approach to their legal department’s risk management practices. David Wilkins, professor of law and faculty director at the Harvard Law School Center on the Legal Profession in Cambridge, Massachusetts, said the number of risks CEOs have to worry about is growing. At the outset of the pandemic, for example, legal departments struggled to go through contracts to find force majeure clauses and pull out the necessary information that could prevent litigation flowing from business disruption. Those pandemic-related risks are coupled with cybersecurity and data privacy risks. On top of it all, comes a patchwork of state and international laws governing how consumer data can be used.

  • Collage of people working from home

    Going remote

    March 3, 2021

    Ten Harvard Law School faculty share a behind-the-scenes look at their Zoom studios and the innovative approaches they employed to connect with students.

  • Molly Brady wearing a bright red jacket sits in front of a computer and teaches her class in Zoom

    2020 in pictures

    January 5, 2021

    A look back at the year at HLS.

  • Judge Julie M. Lynch presides over a courtroom remotely

    Online courts: reimagining the future of justice

    December 4, 2020

    Even if there was no COVID-19, online courts would still be the wave of the future: This idea was the starting point for a recent webinar, “Online Courts: Perspectives from the Bench and the Bar,” a half-day event convened by the Harvard Law School Center on the Legal Profession.

  • grid of headshots of speakers at Gantz tribute

    Remembering Justice Ralph D. Gants: ‘A living example of what lawyers can do to make our world better’

    October 29, 2020

    Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Ralph D. Gants ’80 wasn’t just a legal giant, a pride to Harvard Law School and a tireless advocate for social and racial justice. He was also, as former Governor Deval Patrick ’82 put it, “a mensch.”

  • Radhe Patel ’20 with family

    Pomp and Circumstance

    July 21, 2020

    On May 28, 2020, Harvard Law students gathered to celebrate their graduation. The gathering did not take place at the foot of Langdell Hall, but rather in living rooms and backyards worldwide, from Cambridge to California, from New Zealand to the Netherlands, at all hours of the day and night.

  • Lawyering In Crisis: African Countries Among Innovation Leaders Against COVID-19

    June 5, 2020

    African innovators have shown creativity and ingenuity in finding solutions to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, but face legal barriers to safeguarding their intellectual property. There have been 192 innovations directed at COVID-19 from Nigeria alone, as well as more than 90 from South Africa, it was revealed during a webinar hosted by Harvard Law School’s Center on the Legal Profession, and digital platform “One of the things COVID-19 has done is to underscore the importance of innovation in societies that have been viewed as lacking the intellectual capacity to deploy innovation,” said Professor Ruth L. Okediji of Harvard Law School. “Many innovations in Africa lack the protection necessary to make business models scalable and meaningful.” The webinar brought together top legal minds to discuss Law and crisis management: Working with lawyers in business, government and society to manage the challenges of COVID-19...David Wilkins, Faculty Director at the Center on the Legal Profession, started off with a brief presentation on the role of lawyers in society, reminding participants that one of the continent’s greatest freedom fighters, Nelson Mandela, had been a lawyer. “We tend to think of lawyers as technical appliers of the law…Lawyers must also be counsellors to help clients make decisions that are not only legal but also right…Lawyers must also be leaders who play a critical role in leading key organizations,” Wilkins said.

  • David Wilkins

    Sacks-Freund winner David Wilkins: “I have no doubt of the amazing things that you will achieve for yourselves and for our world.”

    May 28, 2020

    The Class of 2020 chose Professor David B. Wilkins ’80 to receive the Albert M. Sacks-Paul A. Freund Award for Teaching Excellence.

  • Four black men (Harvard Law's first black graduates)

    Celebrating Black History Month: A look back at historic firsts

    February 24, 2020

    Professors Annette Gordon-Reed, Kenneth Mack and David Wilkins discuss the Harvard Law School's first black graduates and the legacy of African Americans at HLS throughout the years.

  • BigLaw 2040: What Will Happen When Gen Z Is In Charge?

    February 10, 2020

    2040. Sure, it sounds like a long way off, but in a quick two decades today's law students and fresh-faced associates will be the ones presiding over a legal industry that could be almost unrecognizable from the one we see today. Just consider the massive amount of change that has happened since the turn of the century. The iPhone has put lawyers on a shorter tether to clients and given associates and judges alike a legal library in the palm of their hands. The recession and globalization have given in-house counsel a higher standing in the legal hierarchy and driven BigLaw firms into a race to get bigger and cover more international ground, all while upending the traditional partnership track. “My own sense is that the change we have seen over the last 20 years is likely to look very small compared to the changes coming over the next 20 years,” said David Wilkins, director of Harvard University’s Center on the Legal Profession.

  • Glenn Cohen with Chris Bavitz at Petrie-Flom Center General Counsel Roundtable

    Health care general counsels explore pressing health policy and legal issues at Harvard Law School

    December 11, 2019

    The General Counsels Roundtable helps influential health law attorneys stay on top of or even ahead of changes in health law and policy. The roundtable connects GC to experts at HLS and the broader university, while also strengthening ties between faculty and legal practice.

  • Make India a hub for world class legal practice and legal education, says Harvard professor

    September 3, 2019

    India has the potential to be one of the premier countries for legal practice and legal education, said Professor David B. Wilkins of Harvard Law School. The Indian bar, therefore, should not be afraid of competing with lawyers from around the world, both here in India and abroad, he said. Wilkins, Vice Dean, Harvard Law School, who was here to deliver the convocation address of O P Jindal Global University, said that while regulatory barriers might have been necessary at a certain point to allow India''s commercial legal profession to develop, it is a mistake to believe that such restrictions can exclude competition from foreign lawyers in the long run. "Foreign lawyers have already made significant inroads in the Indian legal market through ''fly-in-fly-out'' policies, and technology will only allow these existing inroads to grow. As a result, it is better for the Indian bar to meet the competition head on, especially given the significant increase in the capabilities of Indian law firms over the last several years," he said. Wilkins went on to say that the fears of many Indian lawyers about liberalising the legal market are likely to be exaggerated. "It is unlikely that many foreign law firms will want to set up offices in India," Wilkins noted, "and those that do will only practice commercial law".

  • “Law Has Been Very Slow To Take Up Technology”: In Conversation With Prof. David Wilkins

    August 12, 2019

    Speaking to Adv. Avani Bansal (for Live Law), Professor David Wilkins shared his thoughts and opinion on Rule of Law, its challenges, Globalization and Legal Profession in India. He had recently published his book, 'India Legal Profession in the Age of Globalization' and pointed out that the book was as part of a larger project, Globalization Lawyers & Emerging Economies (GLEE) that he is associated with. He said that one of the reasons why he was attracted to study in India (working on the project) was that according to him, among the BRIC countries, India has the deepest and strongest commitment to Rule of Law and India is undergoing tremendous  transition. Therefore the study of evolution of Rule of Law in a rapidly developing country like India is interesting.

  • Can you be a mother and a senior law firm partner?

    April 15, 2019

    It is a question that thousands of lawyers have faced for decades: can you be a mother and still make partner? Last year, just over half of entrants to law school in the US were women; in Britain, it was two-thirds. Yet in 2018 women made up just 19 per cent of equity partners in British law firms, according to PwC, the consultancy, while a McKinsey study from 2017 showed the same figure. The generally accepted issue is the choice many women face between partnership — on call 24/7 and under pressure to generate business — or starting a family. At the same time, says David Wilkins, director of the Center on the Legal Profession at Harvard Law School, there are limited equity partnership positions as many firms look to cut costs. These factors combine to have “a disproportionate impact on women because they still bear the majority burden of childcare and childraising, and the sole burden of childbearing,” he says.

  • Proskauer Chairman Joe Leccese talks firm’s winning strategy with Professor Wilkins

    Proskauer Chairman Joe Leccese talks sports law market diversification and technological innovation with Professor Wilkins

    March 14, 2019

    Joe Leccese, chairman of Proskauer, joined Professor David Wilkins ’80, faculty director of Harvard Law School's Center on the Legal Profession, for a lunchtime talk sponsored by the Harvard Association for Law and Business.

  • Big Law Strikes Back: Firms’ Consulting, Crisis PR Test Big Four

    December 10, 2018

    Global law firms are turning the tables on the Big Four accounting firms’ incursions into the legal industry by setting up consultancies that assist clients with non-legal matters...“Every managing partner I know of is trying to figure out how they’re going to compete with the Big Four,” David Wilkins of Harvard Law School told Bloomberg Law. “They know they’re coming.”

  • Big Four circle the legal profession

    November 15, 2018

    ...In a recent article written with Maria Jose Estaban, David Wilkins, director of the Center on the Legal Profession at Harvard Law School, declared: “Reports of the death of the Big Four’s legal ambitions have been greatly exaggerated.” For one thing, as Prof Wilkins points out, we have been here before. In the 1990s, the then Big Five (today’s Big Four, plus Arthur Andersen) made a concerted effort to move into the legal market. That attempt foundered in the wake of the Enron scandal, in which Arthur Andersen was centrally implicated and which led to its disintegration in 2002. The so-called Magic Circle law firms grew rapidly as the remaining Big Four drew in their horns. “The legal profession thought they’d banished [the Big Four] to Middle Earth,” Prof Wilkins says. “But in fact they reformulated their strategy to take advantage of changing dynamics.”

  • Law firms act as beacons to show the way

    October 5, 2018

    “When you think about the legal profession, what is remarkable is how little it has fundamentally changed over such a long period of time,” says David Wilkins, faculty director of the Center on the Legal Profession at Harvard Law School. Law has been resistant to some of the bigger changes sweeping the world economy. Globalisation, the rise and speed of new technology, including mobile technology — “all these things are transforming the economy, but they aren’t transforming us”, says Prof Wilkins. “Law is a lagging indicator.”

  • Ethnicity not a factor in Elizabeth Warren’s rise in law

    September 4, 2018

    The 60-plus Harvard Law School professors who filed into an auditorium-style room on the first floor of Pound Hall on that February 1993 afternoon had a significant question to answer: Should they offer a job to Elizabeth Warren?...The Globe examined hundreds of documents, many of them never before available, and reached out to all 52 of the law professors who are still living and were eligible to be in that Pound Hall room at Harvard Law School...“By the unwritten rules that most schools played by at the time, none of this should have happened,” explained Bruce Mann, Warren’s husband of 38 years, who joined her for the interview with the Globe. “Law faculties hired in their own image. . . except for those rare occasions when someone came along that was just so stunningly good that they couldn’t ignore her.”...She dazzled Andrew Kaufman, a Harvard Law School professor who recalled meeting her at a conference she organized at the University of Wisconsin Law School in the mid-1980s. “I was blown away,” Kaufman said, recalling his first interaction with Warren. “I thought she was a real whiz.”...“The views had a lot to do with the methodology she was using,” recalled David Wilkins, a Harvard Law professor who voted to offer Warren a job. “Was it the right methodology?” ...“She was not on the radar screen at all in terms of a racial minority hire,” [Randall] Kennedy told the Globe. “It was just not an issue. I can’t remember anybody ever mentioning her in this context.”...“It had nothing to do with our consideration and deliberation,” said Charles Fried, the former solicitor general to president Ronald Reagan and a member of the Harvard Law School appointments committee at the time. “How many times do you have to have the same thing explained to you?”

  • Internal Legal Team post-its

    Operationalizing innovation in legal organizations

    August 29, 2018

    On Google’s main campus in Mountain View, Calif., Harvard Law School's Center on the Legal Profession convened more than 80 innovation leaders from around the world—half from law firms and half from in-house legal departments—in June, for a series of in-depth workshops around how their organizations operationalize innovation.

  • Extending access and quality: A conversation with Mary E. Klotman

    Extending access and quality: A conversation with Mary E. Klotman

    August 20, 2018

    Mary E. Klotman M.D., dean of Duke University School of Medicine and vice chancellor for health affairs, recently sat down with Professor David B. Wilkins, faculty director of the Center on the Legal Profession, for a conversation on how medicine has changed over time, particularly with respect to the development of professional roles within it.

  • A photo illustration

    Faculty Books in Brief: Summer 2018

    June 25, 2018

    HLS Professor Mnookin, who for many years chaired the school’s Program on Negotiation, joins two other Harvard-affiliated professors in a study of the former secretary of state’s public and private deal-making, based on extensive interviews with Henry Kissinger on negotiation strategy and tactics.

  • Class Marshals hold HLS banner at Commencement

    Camera-ready: Harvard Law School Commencement 2018

    May 25, 2018

    On Thursday, May 25, the Harvard Law School Class of 2018 received their diplomas at a ceremony on Holmes Field, and celebrated their graduation with family, friends, and picture-perfect New England weather.

  • Crossing over from a legal to a financial career

    Crossing over from a legal to a financial career

    March 20, 2018

    Kicking of the Harvard Association for Law & Business' seventh annual symposium on Feb. 26, a panel of top-level executives in the financial world explored the possibilities of crossing over from a legal to a financial career.

  • The Indian Legal Profession in the Age of Globalization

    The Indian Legal Profession in the Age of Globalization

    February 8, 2018

    In early December, the Harvard Law School Center on the Legal Profession (CLP) hosted two major events in India to celebrate the publication of 'The Indian Legal Profession in the Age of Globalization: The Rise of the Corporate Legal Sector and its Impact on Lawyers and Society.'

  • David Wilkins on globalization, lawyers and emerging economies

    David Wilkins on globalization, lawyers and emerging economies

    February 8, 2018

    Prof. David Wilkins, vice dean for Global Initiatives on the Legal Profession and faculty director of Harvard Law School's Center on the Legal Profession (CLP), recently sat down to discuss CLP's project on Globalization Lawyers and Emerging Economies (GLEE) and what lies ahead for the innovative program.

  • Osinbajo in US to deliver Harvard historic ‘Africa Rising’ lecture

    January 17, 2018

    Vice President Yemi Osinbajo is in the United States to deliver a lecture at the Harvard University, Boston, USA on “Africa Rising” course at Harvard Business School. Osinbajo, while at Harvard, would also engage in marathon meetings at the Ivy League School. Harvard described the lecture as ‘a historic moment’ as it would be the first time that an Africa-focused course would be offered at Harvard Business School...He also would have lunch with the Harvard Law School Students and Faculty at the Harvard Law School. Osinbajo would then hold meeting with Prof. David Wilkins and tour the Centre on the Legal Profession and Nitin Nohira, Dean, Harvard Business School at the university.

  • Focus On Talent To Prepare For The Entry Of Foreign Law Firms, Says Harvard Law’s Wilkins

    December 21, 2017

    “The quality of Indian law firms and Indian lawyers at the top of the market is as good as anywhere in the world. That is an important point to emphasise,” said David Wilkins, professor of law at Harvard Law School. Wilkins was making the point that India’s legal sector is ready for the entry of foreign law firms, in a phased manner. A move that has been contemplated by a succession of Indian governments over the years and continues to be an imminent possibility. Indian law firms will have to fight their foreign counterparts harder over talent than clients, Wilkins added. The Harvard Law School - Center on the Legal Profession, of which Wilkins is the faculty director, has recently completed a six-year-long study on the impact of globalisation on India’s legal profession. The book tracks the rise of India’s corporate legal sector and its impact on the economy and society.

  • On the Bookshelf: HLS Library Books 2017 12

    On the Bookshelf: HLS Authors

    December 14, 2017

    This fall, the Harvard Law School Library hosted a series of book talks by HLS authors, with topics ranging from Justice and Leadership in Early Islamic Courts to a Citizen's Guide to Impeachment. As part of this ongoing series, faculty authors from various disciplines shared their research and discussed their recently published books.

  • #Interviews: Harvard Law School’s David Wilkins on the evolving nature of the Indian legal profession

    December 7, 2017

    An interview with David Wilkins. ...Most recently, Professor Wilkins and his team have been working on studying the development of legal profession following the liberalisation of various economies, and will be visiting India this month. In this interview with Bar & Bench’s Varun Marwah, Professor Wilkins talks about how India’s legal profession, in its post-liberalisation development phase, while borrowing several practices from the West, has also retained several characteristics that are uniquely Indian.

  • Black Female Lawyers Face the Double Jeopardy of Racial and Gender Stereotyping

    December 1, 2017

    As tough as it is for black lawyers to rise to the top in law firms, it’s even tougher for black female attorneys. Though black women have outnumbered black men in law schools for about two decades, they constitute only a fraction of the already tiny number of black partners at major firms: Less than two percent of Big Law partners are black, and 0.56 percent are female and black. Black women are the minority within the minority. Even the best-credentialed black female lawyers seem to fare poorly. According to a new Harvard Law School study of black alumni, male black alums were more likely to be partners than their female counterparts...“Black women have all the problems of black men plus what white women face,” says Harvard Law School professor David Wilkins, the author of the study about black alums.

  • A photograph of the reading room established in honor of Elihu Root

    The Root Room

    November 29, 2017

    A room that was meant to offer a respite from the rigors of the Harvard Law School curriculum became a portal to exploring some of the most important issues in American law.