John F. Manning, a public law scholar on Harvard Law faculty since 2004 will take over as dean on July 1, the school announced on Thursday.
Manning, 56, has been the deputy dean of Harvard Law School since 2013 and also is the Bruce Bromley Professor of Law, with an expertise in statutory interpretation and constitutional law.
“I love this institution and it has done a lot of good in the world to train excellent lawyers and leaders,” said Manning, in an interview. “And it’s a vibrant intellectual community. I am grateful to be working with a great group of students, staff, alumni and professors.”
He will replace outgoing dean Martha Minow, who was the successor to Elena Kagan, now associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. Minow previously spoke with Big Law Business about her departure from the top-ranked law school, saying she wanted to spend more time studying and speaking about issues of inequality, access to justice and discrimination.
Asked of any changes he could be mulling, Manning said that he plans to have discussions with students, staff, faculty and alumni “to evaluate what we want to do.”
Manning graduated Harvard College in 1982 and Harvard Law School in 1985. He served as an attorney-advisor in the Office of Legal Counsel in the Justice Department between 1986 to 1988, and then worked as a law clerk to the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia between 1988 and 1989. From there, he joined the Washington, D.C. office of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, where he worked between 1989 and 1991 as an associate, before hopping to a position as a line attorney to the Solicitor General in the Justice Department for three years, between 1991 and 1994.
After working in the government, Manning jumped into a career of teaching, spending a decade at Columbia Law School before returning to his old stomping grounds at Harvard.
Speaking to how Harvard Law School has started accepting the GRE as an exam for admissions in a pilot program, Manning told Big Law Business that he felt diversity is one of the school’s greatest assets.
“I think our philosophy has been to recruit our students from a very broad pool of applicants and I think that accepting the GRE as well as the LSAT will help us do that,” he said. “One of the greatest strengths of Harvard is that we have a wonderfully diverse community and people have lots of different backgrounds and experiences, interests and ambitions and perspectives. And we want to have a very broad and lively applicant pool.”
Manning encouraged graduating law students seeking employment in the legal market to keep an open mind when unexpected opportunities arise.
“Being a lawyer is a wonderful profession, and you should wake up every day loving what you do,” said Manning. “You should think about unexpected opportunities, and you should have your mind open to trying things that you didn’t expect to love. I think that that is a really a good recipe for a happy career. I tell that to my students year in and year out.”
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