Constitutional Law Professor Klarman Joins HLS

Winner of 2005 Bancroft Prize, Klarman studies race relations and the role of the Supreme Court

A leading constitutional law expert who has published several books on the history of race relations has accepted an offer to join the Harvard Law School faculty, school officials announced yesterday.

The appointment of Michael J. Klarman, who is currently a law professor at the University of Virginia, brings the total number of full-time faculty to 94—the largest in the Law School’s history—and falls in line with a recent pattern of appointments of professors who are experts in the fields of public interest law.

Klarman attributed his decision to join the Law School to intense lobbying from Dean Elena Kagan, who has made increasing the size of the faculty one of her priorities.

"She was absolutely essential to the outcome," Klarman said. "If it weren't for her, I'm pretty confident this actually wouldn't have happened. [...]She was persevering, generous, warm and caring."

While the Law School made appointments in the past decade that strengthened the faculty in corporate and business law, it has recently added more scholars in the fields of constitutional and administrative law, according to Professor Richard H. Fallon, a constitutional scholar.

"As I look at the rising generation of young scholars, we’ve been extraordinarily successful in getting the best of the generation," said Fallon, who serves on the appointments committee. "We make lots of good appointments at the Law School, [but] this is one that really excites me."

Fallon added that Klarman—who won the Bancroft Prize, the most prestigious prize for American historical writing, for his 2005 book “From Jim Crow to Civil Rights”—will add a new perspective on the role of the Supreme Court.

Klarman, who was originally offered a faculty position in the spring of 2006, was attracted to the Law School after spending time as a visiting professor in the 2005-2006 academic year. During his stay, he taught three courses in constitutional law, and attended more than 15 Red Sox games—something that he hopes to continue when he moves to Boston.

"I’m looking forward to going to Red Sox games," Klarman said in an interview yesterday. "I’m a huge fan."

In a statement released yesterday, Law School Dean Elena Kagan praised Klarman’s teaching abilities and his legal scholarship.

"Having Mike Klarman join our faculty is like winning a trifecta," Kagan said. "He is a pathbreaking scholar whose work abounds with new insights into some of the most important moments in American constitutional history. He is an extraordinary teacher, as Harvard Law students discovered when he was a visiting professor here."

Klarman is the twenty-second tenured or tenure-track professor hired by the Law School in the past five academic years.

Other recent hires include Noah R. Feldman ’92, a constitutional theorist formerly of New York University, and Kathryn E. Spier, a scholar of law and economics who was previously at Northwestern.

—Staff writer Kevin Zhou can be reached at