Skip to content


Ian Samuel

  • Top Law Schools Ask Firms to Disclose Summer Associate Arbitration Agreements

    May 16, 2018

    ...From the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law to Harvard Law School to the Georgetown University Law Center, students have penned letters calling on law school administrators to bar firms with these agreements from using campus facilities to recruit new summer associates...“At law schools, we don’t talk about what people’s individual contracts look like,” said Molly Coleman [`20], a first-year Harvard Law School student who played a role in organizing the campaign. “There’s the culture of secrecy [and] you’re told you’re not allowed to share your contract with anybody.” However, that so-called wall of silence was torn down following a tweet by former Jones Day associate and current HLS lecturer Ian Samuel that Munger Tolles required its summer associates to sign mandatory arbitration and nondisclosure agreements in their employment contracts.

  • Ian Samuel is Shaming Big Law—And It’s Working

    April 26, 2018

    Big Law should be scared of Ian Samuel. Recently, the Harvard Law School lecturer and co-host of the “First Mondays” podcast created a huge uproar when he tweeted that Munger, Tolles & Olson required that summer associates agree to arbitration in their employment contracts. (He called the requirement “super gross.”) Almost immediately, law faculty and law students jumped on social media to condemn the super elite firm for attempting to silence summer associates.

  • An ‘Internet Sales Tax?’ N.H. Businesses Brace for SCOTUS Case

    April 16, 2018

    The United States Supreme Court will hear arguments Tuesday in a case with huge potential impact on New Hampshire businesses, as well as anyone who shops online. The case essentially pits the 45 states that impose a sales tax against the handful that don’t, including the Granite State...“This is really billions of dollars of revenue that is not changing hands,” explains Ian Samuel, a Harvard Law School lecturer who is following this case. A recent GAO report found that states with sales tax were missing out on an estimated $8-13 billion in lost revenue, which impacts everything from school funding to infrastructure projects.

  • A year in, Trump’s pick makes waves at high court

    April 4, 2018

    Nearly one year into his tenure, Neil Gorsuch seems to be having the time of his life. The Supreme Court’s newest justice is reveling in his role, diving into arguments with gusto and so far fulfilling the expectation that he would be a rock-ribbed conservative in the mold of his predecessor, the late Antonin Scalia. In doing so, he’s shaken up the dynamics of the highest court in the land. “Ideologically, he is what he seems to be, a conservative, textualist, originalist, but he’s approached the job differently,” said Ian Samuel, a Climenko fellow and lecturer on law at Harvard Law School, who co-hosts the “First Mondays” podcast about the Supreme Court.

  • Orrick follows Munger Tolles in dropping mandatory arbitration agreements: Will more firms follow?

    March 28, 2018

    If large law firms doing away with mandatory arbitration agreements for employees becomes a trend, plaintiffs may have the #MeToo movement and Twitter to thank. On March 24, Ian Samuel, a lecturer at Harvard Law School, posted a tweet about Munger Tolles & Olson making summer associates sign “a very unusual agreement,” which he described as “plainly calculated” to shield the law firm from harassment claims...Labor lawyers say mandatory arbitration agreements for law firm employees are in fact common. What’s unusual is that a day after Samuel’s series of tweets—rewtweeted around 600 times, “plus many more quote tweets,” Samuel told the ABA Journal—Munger Tolles in its own tweet announced that it would no longer require any employees, including summer associates, to sign mandatory arbitration agreements. “In this case, we were wrong, and we are fixing it,” read the March 25 tweet, which was reported by the American Lawyer.

  • Munger Tolles, Orrick To Scrap Employee Arbitration Agreements

    March 27, 2018

    Munger, Tolles & Olson will no longer require any of its employees to sign mandatory arbitration agreements. The Los Angeles-based litigation firm announced the new policy in a Tweet on Sunday after facing criticism by Harvard Law School lecturer Ian Samuel, who tweeted pictures of the firm’s arbitration agreement with incoming summer associates. “I think this is the grossest thing I’ve ever heard. Munger ought to be ashamed of themselves. And I will be making an extremely large fuss about this,” tweeted Samuel, who also co-hosts the podcast First Mondays, about the Supreme Court.

  • The Supreme Court’s justices want to enhance privacy protections for a digital age

    December 1, 2017

    The nine justices of the Supreme Court are used to applying 18th-century principles to an America that would bewilder the constitution’s framers. Yet sometimes this is really hard. On November 29th the court considered how a 226-year-old rule, the Fourth Amendment’s ban on unreasonable searches and seizures, bears on one arrow in the government’s investigative quiver: tracking people’s movements via their mobile-phone signals...Ian Samuel of Harvard Law School agreed. The colonial-era reference caught the government’s lawyer “entirely off-guard”, he says. Now the justices must reckon with how to find for Mr Carpenter—no mean feat in light of the competing interests of privacy and policing.

  • Gorsuch establishes conservative cred in 1st year on court

    November 27, 2017

    More than 2,000 conservatives in tuxedos and gowns recently filled Union Station’s main hall for a steak dinner and the chance to cheer the man who saved the Supreme Court from liberal control. Justice Neil Gorsuch didn’t disappoint them, just as he hasn’t in his first seven months on the Supreme Court. “Tonight I can report that a person can be both a publicly committed originalist and textualist and be confirmed to the Supreme Court,” Gorsuch said to sustained applause from members of the Federalist Society, using terms by which conservatives often seek to distinguish themselves from more liberal judges... [Ian] Samuel, a professor at Harvard Law School and former Scalia law clerk, said Gorsuch has an obvious interest in questions about accountability in the American system of government and control over the court system. “It’s better that he puts it out there and says this is who I am. I don’t think he cares whether some people think it’s shocking,” Samuel said.

  • Neil Gorsuch reflects on ‘surreal’ court tenure

    November 17, 2017

    Justice Neil Gorsuch returned to the faithful on Thursday night to address the Federalist Society, a conservative group that was instrumental to his nomination to the Supreme Court. Greeted by a standing ovation, Gorsuch delivered a rousing tribute to the conservative jurisprudence of the man whose seat he filled: the late Justice Antonin Scalia. Gorsuch admitted, however, that the months since his nomination have been "surreal" at times..."Justice Gorsuch's manner at oral argument has rubbed some people the wrong way, but I'm not one of them," said Ian Samuel, a lecturer at Harvard Law School and host of First Mondays, a weekly podcast about the Supreme Court. "It is refreshing to have a justice join the court and decide they're not going to ease into it like a warm bath -- he's there to do a job and he decided to hit the ground running from day one," Samuel said.

  • Legal Scholars, Backing Whistleblower, Question Interior Dept.’s Senior Reorganization

    August 28, 2017

    Thirteen legal scholars, in a letter to the U.S. Office of Special Counsel, say U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke's reassignment of 50 senior executives is illegal if the moves are part of an attrition strategy or to punish views inconsistent with the Trump administration's policies...The 13 legal scholars, whose areas of expertise involve constitutional, administrative and civil service law, include Yale Law School's Bruce Ackerman, Washington University School of Law's Kathleen Clark, UCLA School of Law's Jon Michaels, University of Chicago Law School's Jennifer Nou, Harvard Law's Ian Samuel and University of California Berkeley School of Law Dean Erwin Chemerinsky. Clement's complaint, the scholars said, "presents important questions about the extent of agency heads' authority to reassign members of the SES (senior executive service)."

  • The Author Of The Dred Scott Decision Still Has A Place Of Honor At SCOTUS

    August 22, 2017

    Though statues of former Chief Justice Roger Taney have been removed from prominent perches around the country in the aftermath of white supremacist violence in Charlottesville, Va., the infamous jurist remains safely interred in one high profile venue — the U.S. Supreme Court...Ian Samuel, a lecturer at Harvard Law School who cohosts a podcast about the Supreme Court, argues that the Court’s Taney imagery does not serve an exultant purpose, unlike other statuary. Samuel clerked for the late Justice Antonin Scalia. “Unlike valedictory statues in public spaces — where an editorial decision is made to praise a particular person among many — the Court’s practice is to have a bust and portrait of every Chief Justice,” he told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “In context, it constitutes neither praise nor blame but simply acknowledgement of the person’s status as one of the Chief Justices of the United States.”

  • Assessing the first months of the new nine-member Supreme Court

    June 29, 2017

    When the justices took their chairs last October, Hillary Clinton was a shoo-in for the presidency and Antonin Scalia’s seat seemed destined for a jurist who would anchor a liberal Supreme Court majority for the first time in almost five decades. Nine months later, as the justices wrapped up a largely uncontentious term, Neil Gorsuch, Donald Trump’s pick for Mr Scalia’s seat, seems poised to cement the court’s conservative tilt for the foreseeable future... In the eyes of Ian Samuel of Harvard Law School, who clerked for Scalia, the new justice “seems to combine Justice Thomas’s views with Scalia’s writing skill and assertiveness."

  • Gorsuch asserts himself early as force on Supreme Court’s right

    June 29, 2017

    ...If the Supreme Court’s compromise decision Monday on the travel ban grabbed the headlines on the court’s final day, those who study the court were at least as focused on what they could learn about the 49-year-old Coloradan chosen by Trump to fill the seat of the late Antonin Scalia. The bottom line, according to most accounts, is that Gorsuch is a Scalia 2.0, perhaps further to the right...“He’s asserted himself in a way that is really without precedent for a justice in the modern court,” said Ian Samuel, a former Scalia clerk who teaches at Harvard Law School.

  • Trump eyeing second Supreme Court seat

    April 24, 2017

    Talk is already heating up that President Trump could have a chance to appoint a second person to the Supreme Court...Pryor, who was on Trump’s original list, was seen as a controversial choice last time around given his public criticisms of Roe v. Wade, the landmark ruling that established abortion rights...“One advantage Gorsuch had over Pryor was he had some chance of not being filibustered, but now they know they don’t have to worry about that,” said Ian Samuel, a Climenko fellow and lecturer on law at Harvard Law School, who clerked for Scalia.

  • Oxford Comma Defenders, Rejoice! Judge Bases Ruling on Punctuation

    March 17, 2017

    Writers frequently debate whether or not the Oxford comma is a necessary piece of punctuation. In an unlikely turn of events, a group of Maine dairy drivers have yielded the answer: Yes, it is. A case brought by the dairy drivers against Oakhurst Dairy and Dairy Farmers of America Inc. about whether or not they qualified for overtime hinged on the lack of a comma in a sentence outlining duties that were exempted from overtime pay...Because a comma does not appear after "shipment," U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit Judge David Barron reasoned it is unclear if "packing for shipping or distribution" is one activity or if "packing for shipping" is separate from "distribution."...Ian Samuel, Climenko Fellow and Lecturer on Law at Harvard Law School, says at least one prominent legal text, written by Justice Antonin Scalia and his co-author, Bryan Garner, recommends that "courts should not rely much if any" on text omitting an Oxford comma because some legislative style guides follow newspaper style, which often doesn't use the comma.

  • Government workers can ignore Trump’s immigration order — and we’ll defend them

    February 6, 2017

    An op-ed by Daniel Epps, Leah Litman and Ian Samuel. When President Trump dashed off an executive order banning nationals of several predominantly Muslim countries from entering the United States, he encountered pushback from a surprising source — the federal government itself. At the Department of Justice, Acting Attorney General Sally Yates announced that the order appeared unlawful and directed DOJ lawyers not to defend it in court. Around the same time, more than 1,000 State Department employees signed a “dissent memo” detailing strenuous objections to the ban. Although both incidents involved rebukes to Trump by federal employees ostensibly under his command, he responded to them in remarkably different ways. He swiftly fired Yates and replaced her with someone who was willing to defend the order. But the many dissenting State Department employees were not so swiftly dispatched. Their only punishment so far has been a press conference tongue-lashing. Sean Spicer, Trump’s press secretary, angrily told the “career bureaucrats” who signed the memo that they can “either get with the program or they can go.”

  • The Nervous Civil Servant’s Guide to Defying an Illegal Order

    February 3, 2017

    An op-ed by Ian Samuel. Imagine you’re a midlevel staffer in a federal department—any federal department. You come into work one morning in your drab Washington office and learn that President Donald Trump has signed an executive order that directly affects your job. Reading the order, you realize that to fulfill it, you’d need to act in a way you’re not comfortable with. In fact, the thing Trump’s asking you to do might be illegal. What now?

  • Nearly 200 Harvard Professors Sign Petition Opposing Presidential Order

    January 30, 2017

    Joining thousands of academics worldwide, over 190 Harvard professors have signed a growing petition opposing President Donald Trump’s executive order barring immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries. By Sunday evening, nearly 200 Harvard faculty members from across the University’s schools had signed the petition, entitled “Academics Against Immigration Executive Order.” More than 7,100 professors from across the country have signed the condemnation...As students and residents protested the executive order in Harvard Square Friday and Copley Square Sunday, Law School lecturer Ian Samuel, took to Twitter. In a post retweeted thousands of times, Samuel offered free legal support to government employees who considered refusing to obey the order. “Any government official who refuses to execute Trump’s orders on grounds of illegality will receive free representation from me. & I’m good!” Samuel tweeted Saturday. Samuel said he has since been approached by individuals asking for help and by fellow lawyers offering assistance.