Skip to content

People

Jon Hanson

  • Jon Hanson speaking.

    ‘Recommit to your childhood dreams of justice’

    April 27, 2022

    In the first of this year’s Last Lectures, Professor Jon Hanson challenged students to think about what justice really means — and whether it’s truly provided by the American legal system or even taught in law school.

  • Black and white portrait of a man in his office

    Remembering Alan Stone 1929–2022

    February 4, 2022

    Alan A. Stone, the Touroff- Glueck Professor of Law and Psychiatry Emeritus in the faculty of law and the faculty of medicine at Harvard, died Jan. 23. He was 92.

  • Man and woman wearing face masks, standing on stage at a microphone, looking at a cellular phone and gesturing.

    The Tortys return

    November 24, 2021

    Oscars-style event back in person for its fifth year, celebrating student short films on tort law and justice.

  • Colorful silhouettes of overweight people

    The shape of discrimination

    March 10, 2021

    Harvard Law alum Daniel Aaron ’20 thinks high obesity rates among people of color may be another legacy of ongoing racism in America.

  • The Justice Initiative logo

    Harvard Law School’s Systemic Justice Project and Howard University School of Law’s Thurgood Marshall Civil Rights Center Launch ‘The Justice Initiative’

    October 2, 2020

    This Saturday, October 3, 2020, the Systemic Justice Project at Harvard Law School and the Thurgood Marshall Civil Rights Center at Howard University School of Law will launch a year-long pilot project called “The Justice Initiative” with the first of 10, three-hour programming sessions.

  • Multicolored hands layered over each other

    How can law students help in the midst of COVID-19?

    April 29, 2020

    Lee Mestre helped to coordinate Harvard Law School student aid efforts after natural disasters in New Orleans and Puerto Rico. Now she's using that experience to help law students support people in Massachusetts affected by the COVID-19 crisis.

  • Two students smiling.

    Students showcase films on tort law and justice

    December 19, 2019

    A night of glamour at HLS to celebrate student films on tort law and justice.

  • Love and Law: Recent Mergers in 1L, Section 6

    January 22, 2019

    Two couples in the wedding announcements, Hannah Diamond and Sam Feldman, and Lindsay Church and Andrew Ellis, who were all in the same Harvard Law School section, were married this weekend. Two other classmates, Habin Chung and Mark Jia, were also married (in 2017) after connecting in the class. The couples were in the same first-year section (similar to a homeroom period) called 1L, Section 6. Jon D. Hanson, their torts professor, who is also responsible for supervising and orchestrating intellectual and social activities, leads the section. Professor Hanson, who has taught at the university for 26 years, weighed in on the romances with three theories. “One, there is nothing to see here,” he said, explaining that 560 students in 1L are divided into sections of 80 students each. “It’s just probability. They are arriving at a certain stage of their life. They are thinking of long-term plans and are young enough not to be committed. Love connections emerge from interaction. It happens to everyone in every section.”

  • The Tortys, take two

    The Tortys, take two

    December 7, 2018

    It was Thursday night and the Ames Courtroom was decked out for a Hollywood-style awards ceremony--1Ls and their dates arrived in tuxes and ball gowns while a jazz combo played, and anticipation was in the air. The winter’s first snow was falling outside, but in Austin Hall, the Tortys had come to town.

  • 25 Harvard Law Profs Sign NYT Op-Ed Demanding Senate Reject Kavanaugh

    October 4, 2018

    Roughly two dozen Harvard Law School professors have signed a New York Times editorial arguing that the United States Senate should not confirm Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. Harvard affiliates — including former Law School Dean Martha L. Minow and Laurence Tribe — joined more than 1,000 law professors across the country in signing the editorial, published online Wednesday. The professors wrote that Kavanaugh displayed a lack of “impartiality and judicial temperament requisite to sit on the highest court of our land” in the heated testimony he gave during a nationally televised hearing held Sept. 27 in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee....As of late Wednesday, the letter had been signed by the following: Sabi Ardalan, Christopher T. Bavitz, Elizabeth Bartholet, Christine Desan, Susan H. Farbstein, Nancy Gertner, Robert Greenwald, Michael Gregory, Janet Halley, Jon Hanson, Adriaan Lanni, Bruce H. Mann, Frank Michelman, Martha Minow, Robert H. Mnookin, Intisar Rabb, Daphna Renan, David L. Shapiro, Joseph William Singer, Carol S. Steiker, Matthew C. Stephenson, Laurence Tribe, Lucie White, Alex Whiting, Jonathan Zittrain

  • And the 'Torty' goes to...

    And the ‘Torty’ goes to…

    December 13, 2017

    This year, Jon Hanson challenged his torts students to create short documentaries about how tort law might apply to social issues and problems on the edge of the law’s reach. This challenge culminated in the inaugural Torty Awards--a screening and ceremony celebrating their inventive films on climate change, driverless cars, and the Flint water crisis.

  • Diversity in the 1L curriculum explored in spring seminar and lecture series

    February 7, 2017

    During this year’s spring semester, Mark Tushnet, the William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Law, is teaching a novel seminar called “Diversity and Social Justice in First Year Classes.” It combines classroom teaching with an eight-part public lecture series examining how issues of diversity and social justice can be integrated into the core 1L classes.

  • Diversity and U.S. Legal History

    December 7, 2016

    During the fall 2016 semester, a group of leading scholars came together at Harvard Law School for the lecture series, "Diversity and US Legal History," which was sponsored by Dean Martha Minow and organized by Professor Mark Tushnet, who also designed a reading group to complement the lectures.

  • Harvard Gazette: The costs of inequality — A goal of justice, a reality of unfairness

    March 2, 2016

    Fifth in a Harvard Gazette series on what Harvard scholars are doing to identify and understand inequality, in seeking solutions to one of America’s most vexing problems.

  • The costs of inequality: A goal of justice, a reality of unfairness

    March 1, 2016

    When starting a semester, Harvard Law School (HLS) Professor Carol Steiker likes to ask her first-year criminal law students to describe what they think are the biggest societal changes of the past 40 years. The students often cite the rise of social media, or global warming, or same-sex marriage. Then it’s Steiker’s turn. “I show them the statistics,” said Steiker, the School’s Henry J. Friendly Professor of Law, “and they are stunned.” Her numbers show mass incarceration in the United States...The Sentencing Reform Act of 1984, part of the Comprehensive Crime Control Act, enacted a sweeping revision of the criminal code. The legislation established the U.S. Sentencing Commission and tasked it with providing guidelines to federal courts — a radical shift in policy, since judges previously had wide discretion in sentencing. The commission introduced mandatory sentencing for various crimes and eliminated federal parole for some cases, immediately boosting prison rolls. Instead of improving fairness in sentencing, as was intended, the new system wound up promoting inequality, says HLS lecturer Nancy Gertner, herself a former federal judge. Judges suddenly had to hand down standard sentences to those convicted of some specified crimes who had particular criminal histories...In addition, court systems around the country increasingly are outsourcing their probation operations to private firms that make money by charging offenders extra fees. “The private company may have little or no interest in achieving justice,” said Jacob Lipton, who leads Harvard’s Systemic Justice Project along with HLS Professor Jon Hanson.

  • Jon Hanson

    October 21, 2015

    The first time Smart professor of law Jon Hanson lived on wheels, he was managing a restaurant and sharing a trailer with his high-school sweetheart, Kathleen. The newlyweds had bought the trailer cheap and persuaded their shop teacher to let them fix it up during class senior year. Neither planned to attend college. That changed after Hanson’s father died, when something jumped out among his father’s few possessions: his books. Applying to Rice on Kathleen’s suggestion, Hanson got in and soared, earning a fellowship for research in Europe. (They traveled in a camper van there, later taking their three kids across America in an RV.) Then on to Yale—he to the law school, and Kathleen to the college. By Hanson’s “2L” year, he’d coauthored his first law-review article, and was off to the scholarly races. At Harvard, Hanson stands out for connecting law to the mind sciences and for his approach to legal education.

  • GALLERY: Harvard Law School Class Day 2015

    May 28, 2015

    Harvard Law School’s 2015 Class Day ceremony featured speeches by Gabrielle Giffords, former U.S. Representative from Arizona, and her husband Mark Kelly, a Navy pilot and NASA astronaut, and Harvard Law School Professor Jon Hanson, winner of the 2015 Albert M. Sacks-Paul A. Freund Award for Teaching Excellence. A number of Harvard Law students from the Class of ’15 received special awards for their outstanding leadership, citizenship, compassion and dedication to their studies and the profession.

  • Giffords, Kelly Speak at Law School Class Day

    May 28, 2015

    On a windswept, sunny afternoon day on Holmes Field at Harvard Law School, former U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords and her spouse, the astronaut Mark Kelly, emphasized the value of public service to the Law School’s Class of 2015....The ceremony also featured several student awards given by Dean of the Law School Martha L. Minow. She honored students for service to the Law School community, including several for their pro bono work as students...Jon D. Hanson, a Law School professor, was also honored at the Class Day ceremony. Hanson spearheaded the Law School’s systemic justice project, which focuses on tackling societal and policy problems with the law. He discussed the events at Ferguson, Staten Island, Cleveland, and Baltimore involving police violence towards black men, and “the chasm between law and justice.”

  • Hanson, Pattanayak honored by Class of 2015 3

    Hanson, Pattanayak honored by Class of 2015

    May 27, 2015

    The Class of 2015 honored Professor Jon Hanson with the prestigious Albert M. Sacks-Paul A. Freund Award for Teaching Excellence for his work inside the classroom as “a creative and effective teacher, combining presentations, narratives and hands-on projects.” Catherine Pattanayak ’04 was selected by the Class to receive the Suzanne L. Richardson Staff Appreciation Award for her “extraordinary support of public interest students and their careers.”

  • Systemic Justice: At a Harvard Law School conference, students reimagine the role of lawyers in addressing societal problems 5

    Systemic Justice: At a Harvard Law School conference, students reimagine the role of lawyers in addressing societal problems

    April 22, 2015

    Last year, HLS Professor Jon Hanson and Jacob Lipton ’14 launched the Systemic Justice Project, a new venture intended to provide students with a new way to think about the role that law and lawyers play in society.

  • Harvard Law Flips Legal Education On Its Head With ‘Systemic Justice’ (audio)

    March 10, 2015

    ...The legal profession is due for a rethink. There’s a new idea on how to do that, and it starts with flipping the legal education on its head. Rather than teach students the law and how to apply it to the world, they want students to focus on problems — income inequality, climate change, racism — then see how they can use the law to solve them. It’s called systemic justice and it’s a new program at Harvard Law School. Guests: Jon Hanson, professor at Harvard Law School and faculty director of the Systemic Justice Project. Jacob Lipton, program director of the Systemic Justice Project.

  • After Ferguson, the ripples across Harvard

    March 5, 2015

    National concerns over racial justice lead to campus introspection, discussion, research, and action (from left) Philip Lee, UDC David A. Clarke School of Law; Harvard…

  • After Ferguson, the ripples across Harvard

    March 5, 2015

    ...The killings of unarmed black men by white police officers last summer — the fatal shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., and the chokehold death of Eric Garner, captured on video, in Staten Island, N.Y. — and the grand jury decisions against indictments in those cases sparked shock and outrage that led to massive protests across the country, including here at Harvard. ... At Harvard Law School (HLS), that question has been felt acutely, prompting an array of personal and public efforts, including panels, talks, conferences, seminars, in-class discussions, and faculty opinion pieces in recent months. In December, Dean Martha Minow convened a School-wide meeting for students, faculty, and staff to discuss the grand jury decisions. “The nation has witnessed lethal violence against unarmed individuals who are members of visible minorities, and there is a widespread perception that procedures meant to secure legal accountability aren’t working,” Minow told the Gazette in a statement last month about why these incidents have resonated so deeply at HLS. “The ideal of equal justice under law animates our law school and informs our daily work. Many of us here feel a special responsibility to push for change.”

  • New Harvard Law School program aims for ‘systemic justice’

    February 9, 2015

    From the first day, it’s clear that law professor Jon Hanson’s new Systemic Justice class at Harvard Law School is going to be different from most classes at the school. Hanson, lanky, bespectacled, and affable, cracks jokes as he paces the room. He refers to the class of 50-odd students as a community; he even asks students to brainstorm a name for the group. But behind the informality is a serious purpose: Hanson is out to change the way law is taught. “None of us really knows what ‘systemic justice’ is—yet you’re all here,” he points out. The new elective class, which is being taught for the first time in this spring term, will ask students to examine common causes of injustice in history and ways to use law and activism to even the field...The class is part of a new Systemic Justice Project at Harvard, led by Hanson and recent law school graduate Jacob Lipton. They’re also leading a course called the Justice Lab, a kind of think tank that will ask students to analyze systemic problems in society and propose legal solutions. Both classes go beyond legal doctrine to show how history, psychology, and economics explain the causes of injustice. A conference in April will bring students and experts together to discuss their findings.

  • Hanson: On the frontier of teaching torts 1

    Hanson: On the frontier of teaching torts

    February 12, 2014

    Harvard Law School Professor Jon Hanson believes that the traditional casebook method employed in many law courses and classrooms has its limitations. Last year, he devised a project he called “Frontier Torts,” in which students in his first-year torts class explored several developing areas of tort law in a much more interactive fashion than the casebook method would allow.

  • Faculty Sampler: From medical tourism to the system of the Constitution

    December 6, 2012

    “Medical tourism—the travel of patients who are residents of one country (the ‘home country’) to another country for medical treatment (the ‘destination country’)—represents a growing and important business," writes Assistant Professor I. Glenn Cohen ’03 in a recent article.

  • The connection between law and mind sciences: A Q&A with Jon Hanson

    The connection between law and mind sciences: A Q&A with Jon Hanson

    March 13, 2012

    Director of the Project on Law and Mind Sciences at Harvard Law School (PLMS), Professor Jon Hanson has long combined social psychology, economics, history, and law in his scholarship. In a recent Q&A, he spoke about the new book, the connection between law and mind sciences, and his own work in a field that has grown rapidly over the past 20 years.

  • The connection between law and mind sciences: A Q&A with Jon Hanson

    Hanson’s Situationist blog wins 2011 Media Prize

    September 16, 2011

    The Situationist blog, established by Professor Jon Hanson and run by the Project on Law and Mind Science at Harvard Law School, recently received the 2011 Media Prize awarded by the Society for Personality and Social Psychology.

  • HLS Dean Martha Minow

    Six Harvard Law School professors and six ideas worth spreading, in 60 minutes (video)

    June 17, 2011

    This year’s “HLS Thinks Big” event, inspired by the global TED (Technology Entertainment and Design) talks and modeled after the College’s “Harvard Thinks Big” event first held last year, took place on May 23, featuring topics ranging from legal assistance for undocumented students to risk analysis in constitutional design.

  • Class Day 2011

    A celebration of Class Day 2011 (video)

    June 10, 2011

    On May 25, the Class of 2011 gathered to celebrate their accomplishments and share reflections of their Harvard Law School experience. As part of Class Day festivities, the graduating class  hailed their Class Day speaker, actor Alec Baldwin, and honored Professor Jon Hanson as the recipient of this year's Albert M. Sacks-Paul A. Freund Award for Teaching Excellence.

  • The connection between law and mind sciences: A Q&A with Jon Hanson

    Hanson honored with Sacks-Freund Teaching Award

    May 26, 2011

    Professor Jon Hanson, the Alfred Smart Professor of Law, is this year's winner of the prestigious Albert M. Sacks-Paul A. Freund Award for Teaching Excellence, an honor bestowed each spring by the Harvard Law School graduating class. The award recognizes teaching ability, attentiveness to student concerns and general contributions to student life at the law school.

  • Jon Hanson and Adam Benforado '05

    The Project on Law & Mind Sciences hosts “The Psychology of Inequality” (video)

    March 22, 2011

    A conference last month at HLS, “The Psychology of Inequality,” presented by the Project on Law & Mind Sciences (PLMS), brought together scholars, law students, and others to examine inequality from the standpoint of the latest research in social science, health science, and mind science, and to reflect on the implications of their findings for law.

  • Jon Hanson

    Jon Hanson on Big Think (video)

    March 25, 2010

    In a recent interview on the website Big Think, Jon Hanson, the Alfred Smart Professor of Law at Harvard Law School and Director of The Project on Law and Mind Sciences at Harvard Law School, delves into an exploration of psychology, ideology and law.

  • Jon Hanson and Adam Benforado ’05

    Hanson in Philadelphia Inquirer: Judges are activists

    May 20, 2009

    HLS Professor Jon Hanson and Adam Benforado ’05 wrote the following op-ed “Right or left, judges are activists” that appeared in the May 20 edition of the Philadelphia Inquirer. Benforado is an assistant professor of law at Drexel University's Earle Mack School of Law and Hanson is director of The Project of Law and Mind Sciences at Harvard Law School.

  • The connection between law and mind sciences: A Q&A with Jon Hanson

    At HLS, a conference on the free market mindset

    March 17, 2009

    On Saturday, March 7, Harvard Law School’s Program on Law and Mind Sciences held its third annual conference, “The Free Market Mindset: History, Psychology and Consequences.”

  • The connection between law and mind sciences: A Q&A with Jon Hanson

    In chair lecture, Hanson explores the mechanics of human decision-making and its impact on the law

    November 10, 2008

    Individual free choice, an idea that permeates common sense and legal theory, assumes that actions reflect the stable preferences of individual actors. Individuals are responsible for their actions (that is, their preference-driven choices), and laws can therefore be designed on that assumption.

  • The connection between law and mind sciences: A Q&A with Jon Hanson

    Hanson warns that bailout plans do not go far enough

    October 2, 2008

    The following op-ed written by Professor Jon Hanson, "In crisis, beware illusion of reform," was published in the October 2, 2008, edition of the Providence Journal.

  • Hearsay: Short takes on the financial crisis

    September 1, 2008

    Who Will Bail Out American Families? Professor Elizabeth Warren
    Chicago Tribune, Sept. 22, 2008 Credit: Getty Images “Lost in the headlines are the…

  • “Here, Have a Seat”

    July 1, 2008

    Often, there’s a bond between the donor of a new chair and the scholar who occupies it.

  • Diversified Portfolio

    April 1, 2007

    Harvard Law School's corporate law scholars like to collaborate--across a global array of subjects.

  • The connection between law and mind sciences: A Q&A with Jon Hanson

    Hanson examines downsides of athlete worship

    August 28, 2006

    An op-ed co-written by Professor Jon Hanson: To sports fans, it probably wasn't a surprise to learn that former Ohio State University football star Maurice Clarett was arrested again the other week. The evasive running back who had carried the Buckeyes to the 2002 National Championship was unsuccessful in evading the police in a car chase that occurred near the home of a witness in his upcoming robbery trial.

  • Professor Charles Fried

    Hearsay: Short takes from faculty op-eds

    April 23, 2006

    Judge Samuel A. Alito Jr.'s opponents have seized upon two memorandums he wrote when he was a junior lawyer in the office of the solicitor general....

  • The connection between law and mind sciences: A Q&A with Jon Hanson

    Professor Hanson on the Supreme Court’s ‘drifters’

    January 9, 2006

    When Justices William Rehnquist and Sandra Day O’Connor left the bench last year, conservatives were in an anxious mood: though pleased at the prospect of shifting the Supreme Court to the right, they were worried by the record of past Republican appointments. The refrain in conservative commentary, repeated with special intensity during the Harriet Miers affair, was: Not another Souter. Not another Kennedy. Not another O’Connor.

  • The connection between law and mind sciences: A Q&A with Jon Hanson

    Professor Hanson on Supreme Court politics

    December 12, 2005

    When it comes to Supreme Court nominees, conservatives are in agreement: Situation matters. Pundits on the right shouted down Harriet E. Miers over concerns that her evangelical backbone would whither under Washington winds. Judge Samuel A. Alito Jr. stepped into her spot seeming of far more stalwart vertebrae, but as his backers have stressed recently, he is a creature of situation as well.

  • Teaching Lessons

    July 1, 2002

    Guided by their professors, students find HLS a training ground for academic careers.

  • The Dean Saves the Day

    July 1, 2001

      Credit: Tony Loreti For Dean Robert Clark ’72 it was just another day at the office when students in the Drama Society’s spring parody,…

  • Hanson and Co. Go Hollywood

    July 26, 1999

    The first and last annual report from Class Action CEO Heather Thompson ’00, “the hardest-working and lowest-paid CEO in the country,” according to Professor Jon Hanson.