Dear Friends and Colleagues:

As we welcome the new year, I write to let you know that I plan to conclude my service as dean of Harvard Law School this summer. Leading this institution for the last eight years has been an extraordinary honor and opportunity for daily learning (inspiring me to serve well beyond my initial intention of five years!).

I have had the remarkable fortune to “grow up” in the law over the past 36 years since joining the School as an assistant professor in 1981, and yet not until I became dean did I come fully to understand the scope, depth, and constant creativity of this wondrous place. Committed to rigorous analysis, open discussion, building knowledge, and advancing justice, Harvard Law School supports phenomenal students en route to lives of leadership across private and public institutions of law, business, government, non-profits and NGOs, and the arts. Coming to the deanship at a time of significant challenge and change in the global economy, the legal profession, and the world, I have been privileged to work with so many of you to move forward on all fronts nonetheless — transforming our campus, launching new clinics, expanding our public service commitments, developing new research programs, and recruiting and supporting incredibly strong faculty, staff, and students who are more diverse on many dimensions than in any time in our history.

“Entrepreneurship” was a word not common in law schools before I became dean, but the changes in the legal profession – and changing contexts in which lawyers operate – have prompted our Public Service Venture Fund, collaborations with the University’s i-lab, the HLS Library Innovation Lab, new courses and workshops, and new student organizations. I am especially grateful for the generosity of alumni and friends and for the vigorous efforts of faculty and staff to advance our aims. Through our combined efforts, we have established a sound financial basis for the School and have surpassed the initial goal of our portion of the Harvard Campaign well before its close. This allows us to reaffirm our commitment that all students talented enough to be admitted can afford both to attend HLS and to pursue career goals regardless of their own economic circumstances.

Working with President Faust, Provost Garber, and fellow Harvard deans has been a gift; working with exceptional colleagues across the School has been a daily joy. I am grateful to all at the School who have supported me in my role as Dean and also as the inaugural chair of the Deans Steering Committee of the Association of American Law Schools and vice-chair of the Legal Services Corporation, and in my continuing work as a classroom teacher and scholar. It is to that work of teaching and scholarship, and to more robust engagement with the significant issues of the day, that I will return fully this July. President Faust will soon launch the search for the School’s 13th dean. With the rest of this community, I will welcome with delight our upcoming bicentennial year as a time for celebration and also a time to envision anew the commitments and opportunities of law, justice, scholarship, and legal education in and beyond Harvard Law School.

With gratitude and anticipation of great times ahead,

Martha Minow
Morgan and Helen Chu Dean and Professor of Law