BY MEREDITH MCKEE
Bert Huang will follow in the footsteps of Judge Henry Friendly and Dean Erwin Nathaniel Griswold through the next year by guiding the Harvard Law Review as its next president. Huang emerged victorious as the 116th Law Review president after an election Saturday.
“I was honored and humbled,” Huang said. “It’s a terrific thing to know others have confidence in you, are willing to trust you with responsibility.”
Huang said that honor was particularly meaningful since the Law Review is a “challenging” group with very “talented and intelligent” members.
Huang will lead the Review with the help of newly elected Treasurer Allison Tirres and Managing Editor Garrett Moritz.
If past experiences of Law Review presidents are any hint, Huang can expect to earn his honor. Presidents are generally responsible for the quality of all pieces published, for organizational administration of the Review, for publishing the Review and dealing with the outside world. Over his term, outgoing President Matt Hellman estimated that he has worked “well over 100 hours a week.”
“It’s a wonderful job, an absolutely amazing experience, although obviously it’s a real time commitment,” he said. “I wouldn’t pass it up for the world.”
Over his term, Huang said, he will work to implement the initiatives his Law Review class has voted to support.
“I think our class is focused on the community we are building between ourselves,” he said. “We are concerned about our place in the community, in the law school, in the legal field.”
That concern about the Law Review’s place in the community became particularly relevant recently as the organization debated whether to adopt an affirmative action policy for female applicants. The proposal, which was rejected in a vote last week, would have made gender a consideration in the selection process for a limited number of spots on the Review.
Huang declined to express an opinion on the merits of the proposal, saying instead, “[W]hat’s important is what this group of editors as a whole have decided about the issue.”
Huang continued: “It’s an incredibly important discussion to have – not an easy discussion to have. Because of that, it brought out the reflection important to a self-governing organization like ours about what it means to be a member.”
Though that discussion was at times contentious, Huang said it was beneficial for the organization.
“I think it only speaks well of the thoughtfulness of the membership that we were able to talk frankly and openly about the proposal,” he said. “Keeping in mind that the eyes are on us – that we are making concrete in our lives something that we have studied in the abstract, but is an important decision about how we view ourselves as a community and as a functioning institution.”
Huang will face a steep learning curve as he takes over the Review, Hellman said.
“Looking back, one of the difficulties of the job is that you do it for a year and then you’re done, so the first six month you’re learning the ropes,” he said. “And then the second six months you’re relying only on that vast experience, so you always could have done better.”
Despite those difficulties, Hellman said he is happy with his experience.
“Mostly I’m proud about the quality of the pieces we’ve published this year – it’s really been a banner year, even according to our standards,” he said.
More importantly, Hellman said, the editors have gotten something more personal out of the experience.
“I think the editors as a whole have had a good time,” he said.
The Law Review also contributes to the Law School community through the activities of its members, he said, since almost all of its editors participate in other student groups.
“It doesn’t have to take over your whole life,” Huang said. “We have a lot of editors who maintain a great balance.”
Hellman, citing Law Review representation in the Parody, singing groups, and other organizations, agreed: “Although the president doesn’t usually have time to take on significant outside activities, the editors usually do.”
Looking to the future Huang said that the 2Ls on Law Review are particularly interested in using the Review’s status as a locus of academic scholarship and its contacts throughout the academic world to bring opportunities to the Law School.
Another goal for the coming year, Huang said, will be to draw from the Law School community in as many areas as possible for membership.
“The value of diversity has hit home this year,” he said.