The Hon. Loretta Lynch ’84, who was Attorney General of the United States from 2015 to 2017, will be this year’s speaker for the Class Day ceremonies at Harvard Law School, the Dean of Students and class of 2022 class marshals announced today. Class Day will take place on the Harvard Law School campus on Wednesday, May 25.
Lynch has had a distinguished career in both private practice and the public sector—including three presidential appointments. President Barack Obama ’91 appointed Lynch as the 83rd Attorney General of the United States, making her the first Black woman to lead the Department of Justice. She is currently a partner in the litigation department at Paul Weiss in New York, where she advises clients on complex government and internal investigations and high-stakes litigation matters.
Lynch previously served twice as head of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York, having been appointed by President Bill Clinton in 1999 and again by President Obama in 2010. During her tenure, then U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder appointed her as a member and later the chair of the Attorney General’s Advisory Committee, which helps set policy across U.S. attorneys’ offices.
Lynch previously served two appointments as head of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York, having been appointed by President Bill Clinton in 1999 and again by President Obama in 2010. During her tenure, then U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder appointed her as a member and later the chair of the Attorney General’s Advisory Committee, which helps set policy across U.S. attorneys’ offices.
In between her two stints as U.S. attorney, Lynch was a partner at Hogan & Hartson in New York. She also served on the board of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York from 2003 to 2005, and she was the special counsel to the international tribunal that prosecuted those responsible for human rights violations and genocide in Rwanda in the early 1990s.
She has been recognized as a “Distinguished Leader” by the New York Law Journal and has been named one of Benchmark Litigation’s “Top 250 Women in Litigation.”
A native of Greensboro, and later Durham, North Carolina, Lynch earned a B.A. in American literature from Harvard University. She then attended Harvard Law School, where she was a member of the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau. After graduating from the law school in 1984, she joined Cahill Gordon & Reindel, in New York City, where she was a litigator for six years before switching career paths to serve as a federal prosecutor.
Lynch has returned to the law school on several occasions, including: in 2011, when she participated in Harvard Law School’s third Celebration of Black Alumni; in 2016, as attorney general, when she delivered a talk on criminal justice reform; and in 2017, as part of the law school’s Bicentennial Summit, when she took part in a public event with her former classmate and colleague, Harvard Law Professor Annette Gordon-Reed ’84.
In 2018, as part of Harvard Law School’s Celebration 65, commemorating the 65 years since women first graduated from Harvard Law School, Lynch discussed her experience as a law student and the difference her legal education has made in her life, as part of a “Countless Stories” video series featuring Harvard Law alumni from across the generations.
“I enjoyed my time at the law school,” said Lynch. “I’ve always thought it was very important to always remember that the purpose of the law is to order our lives, is to order the lives of everyday people. How do we live together? How do we interact with each other? How do we deal with conflict? How do we, in fact, account for ourselves? For me, I think it really came to fruition when I was here in law school.”
Sharing the news with the Class of 2022, Harvard Law School Dean of Students Stephen Ball and the Class Marshals said: “We are delighted to welcome Attorney General Lynch back to Harvard Law School to celebrate our commencement and to inspire us, the Class of 2022 and the next generation of Harvard lawyers, as we embark on careers of purpose and impact.”