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Harvard Law Alumni Criticize Dean in Open Letter
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public interest

Summary: A group of Harvard Law School alumni are not impressed with how the law school’s dean has failed to address a report last year about the corporate focus of the school.

In an open letter, a group of seven alumni of Harvard Law School criticized Dean John F. Manning for his handling of the school’s commitment, or lack thereof, to public interest law. In the letter, the alumni ask if Manning ever plans on addressing the report from last fall about the school’s relationship with public interest.


The report in question titled “Our Bicentennial Crisis: A Call to Action for Harvard Law School’s Public Interest Mission,” contends that the law school focuses on corporate law and needs to put more focus on the public interest sector, according to The Harvard Crimson.

Third-year law student Pete D. Davis is the primary author on the report, which is divided into four parts. The main point of the report, which was published in book form, is that the average American is excluded from the access to legal power, which the law school fails to address. The alumni are disappointed that Manning has not addressed the report in any way. Manning has not provided “a considered written response to its cogent points” or had “a general meeting with the students for a public discussion.”

Ralph Nader, a five-time presidential candidate and Harvard Law graduate, signed the letter in addition to six other alumni. During an interview Tuesday, Nader commended the report and explained that he signed the report because he wants to see the law school take it seriously. He said, “It’s one of the few, rare critical reports of Harvard Law School – there have been about three in the past thirty, thirty-five years – and it has well-documented criticisms, principally that Harvard Law School is an incubator for lawyers to go to work for corporate power, either directly or through corporate law firms.”

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Nader noted that school’s mission statement mentions educating “leaders who contribute to the advancement of justice and the well-being of society.” He added, “And with a few luminous exceptions… they’re really educating leaders who contribute to the advancement of corporate power, its concentration, and its obstruction of justice against the American people and it’s not contributing leaders to the advancement of justice and well-being of society.”

The letter falls in-line with an ongoing movement calling on the prestigious law school to further encourage students to pursue careers in the public service sector. Davis held an event in February with students and faculty to discuss public interest at the law school. At a November event, Nader encouraged students to protest the law school’s “corporate” focus.

Do you think there is a problem at the top law schools in their push for corporate jobs? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.

To learn more about public interest in law, read these articles:




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