Post Date: March 5, 2004

On Saturday, March 6, the Harvard Women’s Law Journal will hold a conference exploring the role of emotion in the law. The conference, which is free and open to the public, will feature a keynote address by Professor Kathryn Abrams of Boalt Hall, the law school at the University of California Berkeley. There will also be four panel discussions focusing on different aspects of the intersection of emotion and law. Registration for the daylong conference will begin at 9:30 a.m. in Pound 102.

Abrams, a leader in feminist legal scholarship, has won several awards for teaching and service to women at her prior position at Cornell University Law School. Her recent publications include an article in the California Law Review entitled, “Fighting Fire with Fire: Rethinking the Role of Disgust in Hate Crimes.”

The first panel, Therapeutic Jurisprudence, will consider the role emotion can and should play in the process of judicial decision-making with particular attention to the emotional impact particular decisions will have on the parties to the dispute.

The second panel, Emotions and the Legal Practice, will focus on how emotions factor into professional careers, with consideration of what a happy or fulfilling career might mean.

The Social Construction of Love & Care: Sexual Orientation and Family Law will explore the current issues of homosexual marriage and child custody battles by considering how society’s constructs of emotions–such as love or care–influence the law, and how law should respond to alternate constructions of emotions.

The final panel discussion, The Social Regulation of Emotion: Hate, Lust, Anger, & Passion, will question how the different emotional experiences of men and women affect the positive law in the criminal context, including consideration of the crime of rape, sexual assault, domestic violence and the heat of passion defense.

For more information and to pre-register for the conference, please visit