Hannah Shaffer ’21, whose research interests focus on criminal procedure, criminal law, and law and economics, will join Harvard Law School as an assistant professor of law, effective July 1. 

She is currently a lecturer in law and a Harry A. Bigelow Teaching Fellow at the University of Chicago Law School.  

Shaffer’s current research focuses on the impacts of prosecutorial discretion on incarceration and racial disparities in state courts. Her research, which relies in part on extensive survey data to inform her empirical findings, addresses how prosecutors account for racial disparities in police arrests and prior convictions.

“Hannah Shaffer brings rigorous empirical and analytical methods to bear on vital questions of criminal law and process,” said John F. Manning ’85, the Morgan and Helen Chu Dean of Harvard Law School. “She will also be an excellent teacher and mentor for our students, and I am delighted that she is returning to HLS to join our faculty.”

Shaffer has several scholarly works in progress, including “Prosecutors, Race, and the Criminal Pipeline,” forthcoming in the University of Chicago Law Review; “Brokers of Bias: Do Prosecutors Compound or Attenuate Racial Disparities in Policing?,” with Emma Harrington; and “Prediction Mistakes in the Criminal Legal System: Evidence from Linking Prosecutor Surveys to Court Records,” with Emma Harrington and William Murdock III. 

She earned a J.D. from Harvard Law School in 2021, and a Ph.D. in economics at Harvard University, where she was a Stone Ph.D. Scholar in Inequality and Wealth Concentration. 

At Harvard Law, she was a John M. Olin Fellow at the Center for Law, Economics, and Business. In 2020, she was awarded the John M. Olin Writing Prize in Law and Economics from Harvard Law School, and the Donald M. Ephraim Prize in Law and Economics, from the University of Chicago Law School. 

She joined the University of Chicago Law as a Bigelow Fellow in 2021, where she has taught “Legal Research, Writing, and Advocacy.”  

Shaffer earned a B.A. in political theory and economics from Washington University in St. Louis, where she graduated summa cum laude in 2012. 

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