Skip to content


David Wilkins

  • 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.

  • Illustration of a human figure looking up at birds in the sky

    Possible Futures

    November 29, 2017

    An eclectic group of forward thinkers takes a longer view and imagines what decades from now might hold for HLS and its graduates.

  • Taking on the World: The Big Four in the Global Legal Market

    October 19, 2017

    An article by Nicholas Bruch, David Wilkins, and Maria J. Esteban Ferrer. Many falsely believe the Big Four were kicked out of the legal industry in the early 2000s. The Economist even went so far as to state, after the Enron scandal drove regulators to limit the range of legal services audit firms could provide, that "accountancy firms' drive in the legal arena is dead." Such reports—as Mark Twain once famously said when he was informed of a rumor of his own death—were greatly exaggerated. There is increasing evidence that law firms are finally waking up to this reality.

  • ISO African-American law students: University of Baltimore recruits top talent from historically black colleges

    October 17, 2017

    A program at the University of Baltimore School of Law recruits African-American undergraduates to confront the disproportionately small number of black lawyers in the U.S....David B. Wilkins, faculty director for the Center on the Legal Profession at Harvard Law School, said the gap is especially pronounced when looking at the most prestigious and highly paid positions, such as law firm partners. What makes people think our legal system is fair, in part, is when they believe all views are represented, Wilkins said. “If an important demographic in our country feels less valued in the profession, this is going to make the system seem less legitimate, particularly to black Americans.”...A report by the Center on the Legal Profession about black graduates of Harvard’s law school took a deeper look at African-Americans working in the legal profession. Surveying virtually all of the law school’s living African-American graduates, the report looked at their current jobs, career trajectories, levels of satisfaction and attitudes on race relations.

  • Black Harvard Law Grads Are Doing Fine (Mostly)

    October 16, 2017

    We know the number of blacks in the profession is still abysmal, but what about those who graduate from tippy-top law schools? Do they enjoy an advantage? The short answer is yes—with qualifiers. That's the finding of Harvard Law School's 2016 study of its black alumni authored by Harvard law professor David Wilkins, the report takes an exhaustive look at the career patterns of black graduates from 2000-2016, painting a picture that's both hopeful and ominous...In fact, respondents to the survey rated HLS's prestige factor (the "H-Bomb") as "extremely important" to their career advancement, outranking all diversity initiatives. "It provides credential and network—and those things are way more important if you're black," says Wilkins.