Law School Looks For New Blood

Wanted: Bright, youthful legal scholars who will rejuvenate a star-studded but graying faculty.

Send resume with cover letter to Harvard Law School Dean Elena Kagan at Griswold Hall 200.

Last year, the Law School launched an effort to add 15 faculty members over a decade, and Kagan said Saturday that she hopes to surpass that target.

The Law School’s junior faculty on the tenure track dwindled to just five members last spring when two scholars jumped ship for tenured positions at Washington University in St. Louis and a third accepted a full professorship at University of Florida.

“The fact of the matter is we have a pretty low number of assistant professors, period, at the moment and we need to make some appointments,” said Andrew L. Kaufman ’51, who is the Fairchild professor of law.

Kagan said several longtime professors have informed her that they intend to retire in the next few years, and the school will have to accelerate its hiring pace to reach the expansion target.

“I hope to do a fair bit of entry-level hiring this year,” Kagan said.

Last year, the school did not announce any new entry-level hires. One scholar accepted an assistant professor post at Harvard but is deferring the job until he finishes a Supreme Court clerkship. A second offer was rebuffed when Lily L. Batchelder, a tax lawyer and former president of the Kennedy School Student Government, opted to join New York University’s faculty instead.

Harvard currently has only one female legal scholar on a tenure track—Assistant Professor of Law Heather K. Gerken.

Langdell Professor of Law Martha A. Field ’65, who was one of the first females to be tenured at the Law School, said last month that “the [gender] imbalance among assistant professors is definitely a problem which I think the school is aware of.” But Kagan noted that the total number of tenure-track faculty is so low that “it’s hard to tell anything meaningful about male-female ratios.”

Field said that the Law School faculty—which votes on appointments—had confirmed female candidates vying for full-professor posts at a lower rate than male tenure-seekers. Kagan said she knew of no statistics that could confirm or refute Field’s observation.

Tenure appointments at all of Harvard’s schools must be approved by the University’s central administration—a hurdle that doesn’t exist at most other institutions. “There are certainly other schools who—when they talk to potential candidates—say, ‘oh well at Harvard there’s this other obstacle,’” Kagan said. “They make it seem like a much bigger problem than it in fact is.”

Kagan said the new hires will give Harvard the opportunity to expand its international law program. She said that the school was focused on reeling in the most dynamic legal scholars regardless of their field.“Do you go for the best position player, or do you go for the best all-around athlete? We’re in best athlete mode,” Kagan said.

—Staff writer Daniel J. Hemel can be reached at hemel@fas.harvard.edu