The American Law Institute has announced that it will award its Early Career Scholars Medal to Professor Crystal S. Yang ’13 of Harvard Law School and Professor Leah Litman of the University of Michigan Law School. The award recognizes outstanding law professors whose work is relevant to public policy and has the potential to influence improvements in the law. Two medalists are selected every other year.

Yang is the Bennett Boskey Professor of Law at Harvard Law School and a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research, where she is co-director of the Crime Working Group. Her teaching and research interests center around empirical law and economics, particularly in the areas of criminal justice and consumer bankruptcy. Her current research includes empirical projects on racial bias in the criminal justice system, spillover effects of deportation fear, and delivery of health care in correctional facilities. Litman was previously a Climenko Fellow and lecturer on law at Harvard Law School, where she received one of its inaugural Student Government Teaching and Advising Awards.

“Crystal is a superb scholar, who combines academic rigor with real-world relevance and impact,” said John F. Manning ’85, Morgan and Helen Chu Dean and Professor of Law at Harvard Law School. “Her scholarship cuts across multiple areas, with a focus on criminal law and process, consumer debt, welfare and immigration policy, and health care for incarcerated people. Using sophisticated methods from economics and statistics, her research seeks primarily to identify the ways in which law and legal institutions impact inequality and discrimination.”

“I am thrilled, on behalf of ALI, to award the Early Career Scholars Medal to these extraordinary professors,” said ALI Director Designate Judge Diane P. Wood of the U.S. Court of Appeals for Seventh Circuit, who also serves as the chair of ALI’s Early Career Scholars Medal Selection Committee. “Leah and Crystal have produced notable pieces of legal scholarship that are already having an impact in the law. Leah’s work in areas such as federal habeas corpus law is thought-provoking, and I am incredibly impressed by her depth of knowledge and analysis of Supreme Court jurisprudence. Crystal’s empirically sophisticated research and writing in the important and timely area of criminal justice reform, in which she also has real-world experience, has the potential to improve the law and lives of real people.”

In addition to her other accomplishments, Yang is a co-editor at the Journal of Public Economics and serves on the editorial board at the American Economic Journal: Economic Policy. In addition to publications in leading economics journals and law reviews, her work has been featured in the New Yorker, New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, The Economist, Boston Globe, among other media outlets, and has been cited by the U.S. Supreme Court.

From 2014 to 2015, Yang served as a Special Assistant United States Attorney in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts. She graduated magna cum laude from Harvard Law School in 2013, where she was a John M. Olin and Terence M. Considine Fellow, and recipient of the John M. Olin Prize. She also received her Ph.D. in economics from Harvard University in 2013 and was a recipient of a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship. She earned an A.B. in economics summa cum laude and an A.M. in statistics from Harvard University in 2008.

The American Law Institute is the leading independent organization in the United States producing scholarly work to clarify, modernize, and improve the law. The ALI drafts, discusses, revises, and publishes Restatements of the Law, Model Codes, and Principles of Law that are enormously influential in the courts and legislatures, as well as in legal scholarship and education.

By participating in the Institute’s work, its distinguished members have the opportunity to influence the development of the law in both existing and emerging areas, to work with other eminent lawyers, judges, and academics, to give back to a profession to which they are deeply dedicated, and to contribute to the public good.

The awards will be presented at The American Law Institute’s 2024 Annual Meeting in San Francisco.

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