Editorial: Dean Kagan off to a promising start


Dean Kagan

The state of Harvard Law School is “very good” said Dean Elena Kagan and she is right. In her annual “State of the School” address, Dean Kagan listed off the accomplishments she has overseen during her short time as head of HLS, promising more positive changes in the years to come.

One year into her tenure, Kagan has acheived more than anyone could have hoped for. From cosmetic changes such as the Hark and Pound renovations, to quality of life changes such as providing free coffee, to substantive changes like expanding the amount of smaller classes offered, Dean Kagan’s first year can easily be labeled a success. It is with this ability to bring about change that the Record therefore offers up the following recommendations for areas the Dean should address in the coming years.

First and foremost, there persists a record of inequality at Harvard Law School in the number of women at the school and their grades once they arrive. Though women now comprise a majority of law students nationally, they have never made up even half of a class at HLS. Furthermore, it has been documented that while women generally receive grades equal to or better than men while in college, upon arrival in law school the average female scores lower than the average male while in law school. Also, female faculty at HLS are greatly outnumbered by their male peers. Something is amiss and it needs to be rectified immediately.

Second, minorities also remain unrepresented, both in the student body and in the faculty. While the failure to admit greater numbers of minorities as students at HLS can perhaps be attrbuted to the failures of our national educational system, the failure to have more professors of color cannot. As an example, HLS has but one Latino law professor, in a nation where Latinos make up the second largest ethnic group. This is an inexcusable state of affairs.

Finally, the legal profession, like the rest of society, is becoming an increasingly global practice. Yet many Harvard students leave HLS without ever being exposed to international legal issues. Dean Kagan promised to incorproate international law more fully with the curriculum, alluding to the possibile restructuring of the 1L curriculum to include exposure to international law. This is a badly needed reform and we applaud Dean Kagan for raising the issue and promising to work on it.

We congratulae Dean Kagan on a successful first year. It is with love for this school that we urge the Dean to continue to address the issues that plauge HLS and the legal profession. Dean Kagan asked students to let her know their thoughts. We second that notion and encourage students to share their thoughts with us here at the record (record@law.harvard.edu) and with Dean Kagan (ekagan@law.harvard.edu) about what changes they would like to see in the years to come.

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