Catherine Peshkin has been appointed assistant dean for the Harvard Law School Graduate Program and International Legal Studies. The graduate program’s director of admissions and financial aid since 2012, Peshkin replaces Jeanne Tai, who retired in June after 24 years at HLS.
“For almost a decade, Catherine Peshkin has brought immense skill, insight, and judgment to assembling superb classes of LL.M.s and S.J.D.s year in and year out from every corner of the globe,” said John F. Manning ’85, Morgan and Helen Chu Dean and Professor of Law. “She will also bring tremendous experience, creativity, commitment, and collegiality to the Graduate Program in the years ahead.”
Peshkin has overseen the graduate program’s process of admitting students without regard to their financial circumstances and of awarding exclusively need-based financial aid, reading more than 10,000 admissions applications over that period, and working directly with nearly 2,000 LL.M and S.J.D. students from an ever broader array of nations around the globe.
In addition to managing admissions, Peshkin has also overseen the growth and provision of financial aid to HLS graduate students. Today, all LL.M.s with financial need receive need-based aid, enabling the School to enroll the very best lawyers from around the world, regardless of their financial circumstances. For her leadership and many contributions to the school, Peshkin was honored with the Dean’s Award for Excellence in 2018.
“Catherine brings to this leadership role a remarkable combination of deep wisdom, unwavering dedication, incomparable experience, excellent judgment, and beyond everything else — a deep love for the Graduate Program,” said Gabriella Blum LL.M ’01 S.J.D. ’03, vice dean for the Graduate Program and International Legal Studies and Rita E. Hauser Professor of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law. “There is no one better suited for this role.”
Peshkin started her career in academic administration at Duke University School of Law, where she served as the assistant director of J.D. admissions during the 1990s. She then earned her J.D. and M.B.A. at Duke University and spent several years practicing law in New York, first, as an associate in the business finance and restructuring group at Weil, Gotshal & Manges, and thereafter, as an associate and then a partner in the corporate restructuring group at Kirkland & Ellis. Between practicing law and returning to law school administration, Peshkin spent a year directing special projects at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville and 18 months trekking and traveling in Nepal, India, Southeast Asia, New Zealand, Spain, Portugal, and the U.K.
“What Harvard Law School offers its LL.M. and S.J.D students is unique and truly special — no other graduate law program provides the same combination of diversity, breadth of opportunity, and support to its students,” Peshkin said. “It has been incredibly rewarding to contribute to this effort and I am honored to have the opportunity to lead the program.”
“I am thrilled that Catherine Peshkin will be our new assistant dean for the Graduate Program and International Legal Studies,” said William P. Alford ’77, former vice dean and now senior advisor to the Graduate Program and International Legal Studies and the Jerome A. and Joan L. Cohen Professor of Law. “I’ve enjoyed working with her greatly — she is enormously thoughtful, deeply principled, has a wicked sense of humor, and will be a worthy leader.”