Kagan Stresses Growth

HLS expansions to continue with curricular review and faculty hiring

Harvard Law School Dean Elena Kagan highlighted her accomplishments in growing the school’s faculty, expanding its campus, and revising its curriculum in a ‘State of the School’ address yesterday.

“The state of the law school is—surprise!—exceptionally strong,” Kagan said to cheers, “and [it’s] growing stronger every day.”

Kagan announced in her address that the school is going forward with its physical expansion, planning a 250,000 square-foot building just north of Pound Hall. The new building, to be ready in three to four years, would contain a student center, classrooms, and space for clinical programs.

Kagan also spoke about her efforts to review the curriculum, particularly the first-year program. Noting that nearly all law schools have had virtually the same first-year curriculum for the past 100 years—designed by Christopher C. Langdell, Class of 1850, who was Law School dean in the 1870s—Kagan said among that a greater emphasis on international law was being considered.

“Who knows, it may even include a 1L course in the [international law] field,” she said.

The hallmark of Kagan’s tenure as dean has been faculty expansion, and in yesterday’s speech she announced that seven tenured professors and two assistant professors have joined the faculty this year, and four clinical lecturers were promoted to the new position of clinical professor.

The Law School’s faculty expansion has sent ripples through the world of elite legal academia because of Kagan’s reliance on “poaching,” or hiring full-time professors from other institutions. Former Dean Robert C. Clark, whom Kagan succeeded in 2003, shied away from the practice during the latter part of his 14 years of service.

Kagan spoke yesterday of the need to further decrease the faculty-student ratio by recruiting more professors. Law School spokesman Michael A. Armini added yesterday that the Law School’s aggressive hiring is also due to the large number of faculty who will be retiring in the coming years.

This year alone the Law School has hired five tenured professors from other universities: Bruce H. Mann from the University of Pennsylvania, Mark V. Tushnet ’67 from Georgetown, George G. Triantis from the University of Virginia, Gerald L. Neuman ’73 from Columbia, and C. Adrian Vermeule ’90 from the University of Chicago. Neuman is an expert in immigration law, a speciality that Harvard has sought in recent years.

In addition to the lateral hires, two of the Law School’s assistant professors—Kenneth Mack and Ryan Goodman—received tenure, while two others—Jeannie Suk and Rachel Brewster—were hired as assistant professors. Four clinical lecturers were promoted to the new position of “clinical professor”: Deborah E. Anker, James L. Cavallaro ’84, John G. Palfrey ’94, and Robert C. Bordone.

—Staff writer Paras D. Bhayani can be reached at