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Harvard Law School Announces Working Group to Develop New Seal

Law School in The Summer
Students eat lunch outside of the Harvard Law School Library. The Harvard Law School Class of 2022 is 50 percent women and 45 percent people of color.

Harvard Law School Dean John F. Manning ’82 announced plans to develop a new seal for the Law School in an email to students on Tuesday.

In 2016, Harvard Law School retired its former seal following historical research that revealed it has ties to slavery.

“As many of you know, HLS retired its former shield in 2016 after historical research revealed that Isaac Royall, Jr., on whose family crest the shield was based following a bequest to Harvard College in 1781, earned his wealth through the labor of enslaved people,” Manning wrote.

Harvard Law School Seal
Harvard Law School has yet to decide on a seal to replace the controversial crest of the slave-owning Royall family.

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Prior to the seal’s removal, it featured three sheaves of wheat and adorned the school’s doors, chairs, apparel, letterheads, web pages, social media avatars, and the banners that typically served as the backdrop to each graduating class’ commencement ceremony.

In the spring of 2016, the law school replaced the Royall crests with a crimson seal with “Harvard Law” written in bold across the front.

Manning wrote that the new seal will need to fit within Harvard’s current suite of seals.

“Working in conjunction with the University and the Harvard Corporation, we will move forward with the proposal of a new shield that fits within Harvard’s suite of shields and that represents the broad aspirations of Harvard Law School,” he wrote.

Law School and History professor Annette Gordon-Reed will serve as the chair of the working group tasked with developing the new seal. Associate Dean for Strategic Initiatives Jessica L. Soban ’02 will serve as the project manager.

The working group will comprise faculty, staff, alumni, and two current students. Currently, the group consists of Director of Facilities and Operations John Arciprete, Law School professor I. Glenn Cohen, Harvard Law School Association President Daniel E. Eaton, Associate Dean for Communications and Public Affairs Melodie L. Jackson, and Staff Attorney with the American Civil Liberty Union’s Racial Justice Program Amreeta S. Mathai.

Two Law School students will also be chosen to join the working group, and interested students are invited to submit an online application to the Dean of Students Office by Dec. 23.

Manning wrote in his email that the process will benefit from the creativity of the Law School.

“This process will benefit greatly from the thoughtful and creative input of the HLS community,” Manning wrote. “As such, the Working Group will create a number of opportunities for community members to share their ideas and perspectives, and I want to thank you in advance for your input.”

— Michelle G. Kurilla can be reached at michelle.kurilla@thecrimson.com. Follow her on Twitter @MichelleKurilla.

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