Law School Alumni Confident in Capital Campaign

Some Harvard Law School alumni and officials are confident that the school’s fundraising success will continue “unabated” after Law School Dean Martha L. Minow steps down at the end of the academic year, building on momentum that has already carried the school past its capital campaign goal of $305 million.

When Minow announced last week that she plans to return to teaching full time at the end of the academic year, she also said the school has surpassed its fundraising goal. Publicly launched in October 2015, the Law School’s ongoing capital campaign is more modest than the school’s last campaign, which set a $400 million goal and ultimately raised $476 million. The campaign seeks to raise funds for financial aid, legal clinics, and recruiting and maintaining faculty.

Dean Martha L. Minow
Law School Dean Martha L. Minow will step down in the midst of the Law School's $305 million capital campaign.
In an email, Steven Oliveira, the Law School’s dean for alumni affairs and development, declined to disclose the exact amount the Law School has raised in its campaign so far. He said the school “will not be setting a new goal but will continue to raise money for our ongoing campaign priorities.”

Deans often play a leading role courting donors and traveling to raise money for capital campaigns: When David T. Ellwood ’75 stepped down as the dean of the Kennedy School of Government in 2015, for example, he said he expected fundraising to slow down. But some Law School donors and alumni said they do not think that Minow’s departure will hinder the ongoing capital campaign and that the next dean will continue to fundraise successfully.

Lynn A. Savarese, a Law School alumnus and a former chair of the school’s Annual Fund, said in an email that she doesn’t think Minow’s departure will slow down fundraising efforts over the remainder of the campaign.

“Over the course of her tenure, Dean Minow has re-engaged alumni and generated tremendous good will and excitement within the alumni community, which will no doubt carry over and be helpful to her successor,” Savarese wrote.

Law school alumnus Jeffrey R. Toobin ’82, who writes legal analyses for the New Yorker and CNN, said that while Minow’s reputation as a major figure in American law helps fundraising efforts, the dean is not the only factor that drives donations. He said he expects the next dean will also be a leading legal mind.

“I think alums want a dean that reflects well on the school. I anticipate that the next dean will be well regarded,” Toobin said. “By and large alums are loyal to the institution, more than they are giving to the current dean, but the fact that she is so well-regarded is certainly a major plus.”

Robb London, a Law School spokesperson and assistant dean, wrote in an email that the school expects continued fundraising success despite Minow’s departure before the end of the campaign.

“We are well-positioned to continue that success during the transition to a new deanship and during the celebration of our Bicentennial year,” London wrote.

Toobin credited Minow with leading a successful fundraising drive despite the economic turmoil of the 2008 financial crisis.

“I think she has done a heroic job, because she came as the economy was collapsing and she had to maintain the standards of the school in very difficulty financial circumstances and while being a major voice for progressive legal education and progressive politics in the country at large,” Toobin said.

Law school alumnus Peter L. Malkin ’55 said the results of the campaign were a wonderful surprise, and that he thinks Minow’s departure might inspire special fundraising efforts.

“I think that the fundraising will continue unabated and I hope that some special fundraising might be done in honor of Dean Minow,” Malkin said.

The Law School’s fundraising drive is a part of the University’s wider capital campaign, which has so far raised more than $7 billion and is scheduled to conclude in 2018.

—Staff writer Jamie D. Halper can be reached at


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