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Harvard Law Review Elects New President
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Summary: The Harvard Law Review named Michael Thomas, a second-year law student, as the journal’s new president.

The Harvard Law Review elected their 132nd president of the journal this past week. Michael Thomas, a second-year law student, graduated with a sociology degree from Princeton University in 2012. He succeeds the journal’s first black woman president, ImeIme A. Umana.


Thomas, 27, was born in St. Vincent and the Grenadines before moving to Brooklyn, N.Y., where he grew up. After college, and before law school, Thomas worked in the office of Counsel to the Mayor in New York City and as a summer associate at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison. He is involved with the Black Law Students Association and the Harvard Law Documentary Studio on campus.

The Law Review is run entirely by students. They publish legal scholarship from the top scholars in the profession, even leading judges. Thomas told The Root via email, “The conversations that go on within and outside our pages have an effect on the law. It’s important that those conversations reflect the full range of experience of the people who interact with the law, and is to say, all of us.”

His first piece to appear in the Law Review since his newly elected position discusses marijuana. Thomas explained, “My goal with the piece was simply to provide another perspective on the current legalization debates, which I felt haven’t been reckoning enough with the harms done by prohibition, particularly to poor communities and communities of color. Given that I think prohibition has proven a massive injustice, I think it’s necessary to repair those harms with the wealth generated by legalization. Otherwise, we’d be exacerbating a lot of the inequality set in motion by prohibition in the first place.”

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Thomas states that after law school, he will clerk for two federal judges, one in the Southern District of New York and another in the 2nd Circuit.

Umana said of her successor in an email to The Crimson, “The Law Reviewer is lucky to have Michael at the helm. He is an incisive and thoughtful editor. More importantly, he is a compassionate peer.”

Umana reflected on her time as president, feeling that the publication accomplished a lot during 2017. “Thanks to our fantastic team of committed editors, the Law Review has had an exciting year,” she wrote. “We welcomed the first-ever majority-female volume, selected our inaugural Public Interest Fellow, and launched a Blog, all in addition to publishing a wide range of premier legal scholarship.”

Thomas will be the second black president of the Law Review in two years. The first black male president of the Law Review was Barack Obama. The second was David Panton, Ted Cruz’s college roommate.

Under Umana and for the past few years, the journal has been adopting a series of initiatives aimed at diversifying their leadership. In 2013, they expanded their affirmative action policy, electing the most diverse class in the Law Review’s history in 2016 and electing a majority female class in 2017.

Do you think race and gender should be left off applications to level the field for all? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.

To learn more about Harvard Law School, read these articles:

Photo: The Root via Michael Thomas


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