Law School Revs up Its Expanded PR Machine

News Analysis

It arrived in the mail over Thanksgiving vacation, a short announcement of the Law School's latest faculty appointments.

The two-page release simply listed the backgrounds of the school's seven new assistant and visiting professors. But together with a series of notices released earlier this fall, the document represents an important policy change at the Law School.

In reaction to the national media attention focused on the Law School last year, Dean James Vorenberg '49 has taken a number of small steps this fall to improve the school's external communications.

The moves reflect a changed attitude toward communication with the world outside of Law School faculty meetings. Like an oldline law firm which hires a public relations company, the Law School is beginning to look for new ways to cope with outside interest.

Recent innovations include.

*A weekly meeting of two assistant deans to discuss the newsworthiness of upcoming Law School events, and to draft periodic press releases for campus news organizations.

*A series of lectures and discussions on the legal profession intended to encourage student-faculty interaction.

*A number of student-faculty liaison committees to increase student input into Law School administration.

*Publishing the Harvard Law Bulletin, the alumni magazine, quarterly instead of biannually, "to reflect more of what is going on here," said new Bulletin editor Deborah Miller.

The new procedures are not overly important in themselves. The press releases, for instance, drawn up by Secretary for the Faculty Stephen M. Bernardi '52 and newly-appointed Vice-Dean David N. Smith '58, are meant merely "to make sure that various publications know systematically what is going on," Smith said.

Instead, it is the school's new effort to

Tills decisions stems from the recent media interest in the law School following the boyeoll of a civil rights class by minority student in January and the student protests in May over the decision to grade classroom participation.

After those, incidents, particularly the boycott. "We got into the general question of media interest in the Law School," Bernardi said. From there discussion shifted to the lack of media interest in other aspects of the Law School.

Thus the dual role of the media managers, Bernardi and Smith, is to draw attention to events that might otherwise he ignored, and to measure the level of outside interest.

We have too many other things to do here." said Smith.

The two men devote little more than their weekly half-hour meetings to studying the public image of the law School. They have distributed half a dozen press releases, they said.

"In comparison with the schools at this University, they were doing very little and are does very that Harvard Public Relations Director David. M. Rosen