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David Wilkins

  • 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.