The Harvard Law Forum is the longest-running American law school speaker series. For 50 years, the Forum has been dedicated to bringing interesting speakers to Harvard Law School to discuss a wide range of cultural, legal, social and political issues. Over the years, the Forum has hosted President John F. Kennedy, President Jimmy Carter, Justice Thurgood Marshall, Ralph Nader, and Fidel Castro.
Learn more at: orgs.law.harvard.edu/hlsforum. Email Pete Davis at PeDavis@jd18.law.harvard.edu to get in touch. Information on past and future forum events stream below.
R.L. Stephens is an elected member of the National Political Committee of the Democratic Socialists of America and the former A. Philip Randolph Fellow at Jacobin Magazine. His writing on race, class and social movements has appeared in The Guardian, Gawker, and Jacobin. He was a campaign strategist at labor union Unite Here in Chicago and previously participated in a campaign to end unfair scheduling practices in the retail sector while working at Gap. He graduated from George Washington Law in 2014.
On November 16, 2017, he came to the Harvard Law Forum to share his thoughts on class, race, and the future of solidarity. The video is below:
On November 8, 2017, Ralph Nader — consumer advocate, public citizen, Harvard Law alumnus, and one of The Atlantic’s 100 most influential figures in American history — came to Harvard Law to inspire students to deploy their education for justice, democracy and the public interest. The video is below:
On November 9, 2017, health care expert, Jacobin writer and HEAVYxMEDICAL co-host Timothy Faust came to Harvard Law School and made the case for a single payer, Medicare for All health insurance system. The video is below:
On November 6, 2017, the co-founders of the bipartisan Congressional Access to Legal Services Caucus, Reps. Joe Kennedy III (D-MA) and Susan W. Brooks (R-IN), came to Harvard Law School to talk about the importance of funding for civil legal aid for impoverished Americans. The video is below:
Jacqueline Patterson is the Director of the NAACP Environmental and Climate Justice Program. She has worked as a researcher, advocate and activist for women‘s rights, violence against women prevention, HIV & AIDS treatment, racial justice, economic justice, and climate justice.
On October 30, 2017, Patterson came to Harvard Law to discuss the intersection of racism and climate change— to show the Harvard community how to “put racial justice at the center of systemic transformation.”
Matt Stoller is a fellow at the Open Markets program, where he researches the history of the relationship between concentrated financial power and the Democratic Party in the 20th century. Prior to joining the Open Markets program, he was senior policy advisory to the Senate Budget Committee on trade, competition policy, and financial services. His writing has appeared in The Atlantic, The New York Times, The New Republic and The Nation.
On October 19, 2017, he came to Harvard Law School to share insights on the relationship between the legal profession and monopoly capitalism… and let students and faculty know what they can do to protect open markets from the distortions of monopoly power. The video is below:
Demos President Heather McGhee is a national leader in the fight for working families. Demos is a public policy organization working for an America where “we all have an equal say in our democracy and an equal chance in our economy.” McGhee’s opinions, writing and research have appeared in The New York Times, The Nation, The Hill, Meet the Press, among other publications. She is one of The Root’s 23 Black Political Pundits You Should Know and one of Grist’s 50 People You’ll Be Talking about in 2016.
On April 10, 2017, she came to the Harvard Law Forum to show how students can help progressive organizations earn and deserve the trust of the majority of Americans who reject Trumpism by moving beyond resistance and towards helping restore working families to power. The video is below:
In 1999, as a college student at Bard, Max Kenner founded and developed the Bard Prison Initiative, which has become the premier program for providing incarcerated Americans with full college educations, associate’s and bachelor’s degrees.
Vince Greco is one of the leading formerly incarcerated prison reform advocates in Maryland. He is member of the Maryland Alliance for Justice Reform and Out for Justice. He is a beneficiary of prison education and during his three decade incarceration was a leader on the inside in expanding college programs to Maryland prisons.
On March 30, 2017, Kenner and Greco came to Harvard to remind students of the imperative of fighting for educational opportunity for incarcerated people, describe other innovative ways organizations like BPI are creating extraordinary college opportunity in unusual circumstances, and to show Harvard students how they, too, can open up the resources of our university to incarcerated neighbors. Their videos are below:
Elizabeth Bruenig and Matt Bruenig are considered by some to be the moral politics dream team of the Millennial generation. Elizabeth is an assistant editor at the Washington Post, whose writing focuses on ethics, politics, and culture from a Catholic social justice perspective. Matt is an incisive poverty analyst and Twitter sage who has written for Jacobin, Demos, The Atlantic, Dissent and The Washington Post.
They came to the Harvard Law Forum on April 5 to give a one-two punch of moral vision and economic analysis to wake up Harvard Law students to the imperative of working towards a moral economy. The video is below:
Sister Simone Campbell, SSS has served as Executive Director of the NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice since 2004. She is a religious leader, attorney and poet with extensive experience in public policy and advocacy for systemic change. In Washington, she lobbies on issues of economic justice, immigration reform, and healthcare. .
On March 22, 2017, Sr. Campbell came to Harvard Law School to speak about moral vocation building and advancing Catholic social justice values in the Trump era. The video is below:
Two decades ago, in his book Democracy’s Discontent, Michael Sandel warned that, absent a stronger civic republican spirit, liberalism would collapse, giving way to “those who would shore up borders, harden the distinction between insiders and outsiders, and promise a politics to ‘take back our culture and take back our county.'”
On February 22, 2017, the Harvard Law School Forum hosted Sandel to give his take on politics in the age of Trump. Below is the audio:
The Harvard Law Forum and the Modern Monetary Network hosted “But Can We Afford It?” on December 2, 2016.
“But Can We Afford It?” This is the question posed to every candidate who has ever had an idea for any government program ever. Following one of the most polarizing and contentious electoral cycles in modern memory, it’s time to discuss what that question really means. Together, two former D.C. insiders — Stephanie Kelton (former Chief Economist, U.S. Senate Budget Committee; economic advisor to Bernie Sanders 2016 Presidential Campaign; recognized as a member of the 2016 Politico 50) and Amar Reganti (former Deputy Director of the Office of Debt Management, U.S.Treasury; Strategist, GMO, LLC.) — interrogate the public understanding of the federal budgeting process.
On February 19, Harvard Law hosted “Beyond Sanders and Clinton: Visionary Futures for Democratic Economics,” an event that brought three economic visionaries to challenge Harvard students to imagine beyond today’s policy fights and envision how an inclusive economy could function 50 years from now. Their three speeches are below:
Gar Alperovitz was legislative director for Rep. Gaylord Nelson and is now a Professor of Political Economy at the University of Maryland. He is the co-founder of the Democracy Collaborative, which aims to develop practical, policy-focused and systematic paths towards ecologically sustainable, community-oriented change and the democratization of wealth. He has spent recent decades aiming to answer the question: “If you don’t like corporate capitalism and you don’t like state socialism, what do you like?”
Greg Watson is the former Commissioner of Agriculture of Massachusetts and now the Director of Policy and Systems Design at the Schumacher Center for New Economics. He has been a public voice for sustainable agriculture, renewable energy, new monetary systems, equitable land tenure arrangements, neighborhood planning through democratic processes, government policies that support human-scale development, cooperative structure, and import replacement through citizen financing of new enterprises.
Juliet Schor is a Professor of Sociology at Boston College. She is the co-founder of the Board of the Center for a New American Dream and the author of many influential books, including: The Overworked American: The Unexpected Decline of Leisure; The Overspent American: Why We Want What We Don’t Need; and Plenitude: The New Economics of True Wealth.
Ralph Nader ’58, in a speech hosted by The Harvard Law Record, exhorted Harvard Law students to use their law degrees for justice. He advised, among other things, that “the bar exam is imminently crammable — in more than one way.” The full video is reproduced below: