Law School Tenures First Asian-American Woman

Jeannie Suk, a law professor who is best known for her work on family and fashion law, has recently become the first tenured Asian-American woman at Harvard Law School.

The faculty voted to grant tenure on Oct. 14 and notified Suk later that afternoon while she was observing her five-year-old son’s music class, she said.

Suk—who currently teaches courses on criminal law and on performing arts and the law—joined the Law School faculty in 2006, having graduated from the Law School herself only four years earlier.

When Suk was originally appointed, she was only the second woman of color to join the faculty after Law School Professor Lani Guinier ’71.

“It was a proud and joyful moment for me,” Guinier said, who added that she is now “overjoyed” to have Suk as a colleague.


Suk said that students often comment that it affects them positively to be taught by a successful female professor.

“I’m used to being one of the few women [at the Law School],” Suk wrote in an e-mail. “But I’ve been a professor under two women deans. It’s hard to say why, but personally I am not that aware of my life as a professor having been more difficult because of being a woman on a mostly male faculty.”

When Guinier first met Suk in 1999, Suk was a first-year student at the Law School interviewing for a research assistant position with Guinier.

Suk “wrote the most brilliant response I could imagine,” Guinier said. “She knocked my socks off with her intellect and insight.”

Last year, Suk entered the spotlight in the fashion world after she co-authored an article in the Stanford Law Review arguing that American fashion designers should have their designs protected by law against imitations or knock-offs.

Shortly thereafter, New York Senator Charles E. Schumer ’71 recruited Suk to assist in crafting legislation that would give copyright protection to fashion designs.

Suk—who immigrated to the United States from Seoul, Korea as a child—was also awarded a 2009 Guggenheim Fellowship to research the legal construction of trauma.

She has served as a law clerk to Justice David Souter on the Supreme Court and to Judge Harry T. Edwards on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

Suk also published a book last year entitled “At Home in the Law: How the Domestic Violence Revolution is Transforming Privacy,” which received the Herbert Jacob Prize by the Law and Society Association.

She has also written articles for publications that include the Yale Law Journal, the Stanford Law Review, and the Columbia Law Review.

—Staff writer Zoe A. Y. Weinberg can be reached at


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