Martha Minow

Martha Minow
12th Dean of Harvard Law School
Assumed office
July 1, 2009
Preceded by Elena Kagan
Personal details
Born (1954-12-06) December 6, 1954
Highland Park, Illinois, U.S.
Spouse(s) Joseph William Singer
Alma mater University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
Harvard University
Yale University
Website Official bio

Martha Louise Minow (born December 6, 1954)[1][2][3] is the Morgan and Helen Chu Professor of Law and the Dean of Harvard Law School.[4] She has taught at Harvard Law School since 1981. Minow was one of the candidates[5] mentioned to replace U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice John Paul Stevens upon his retirement. President Obama ended up nominating then-Solicitor General Elena Kagan, Minow's predecessor as dean of Harvard Law School.[6]


Minow is the daughter of former Federal Communications Commission chairman Newton Minow, and his wife, Josephine (Baskin) Minow. She graduated from New Trier Township High School in 1972.

Minow received her undergraduate degree from the University of Michigan (1975), her master's degree in education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education (1976), and her Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree from Yale Law School (1979), where she was an editor of the Yale Law Journal.[7]

After graduating from law school, Minow clerked for Judge David Bazelon of the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit and then for Justice Thurgood Marshall of the United States Supreme Court.[8]

She joined the Harvard Law faculty as an assistant professor in 1981, was promoted to professor in 1986, was named the William Henry Bloomberg Professor of Law in 2003, and became the Jeremiah Smith Jr., Professor of Law in 2005. She became Dean of Harvard Law School July 1, 2009.[9] She is also a lecturer in the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

Minow is Jewish.[10][11]

Works, honors, and recognition

Martha Minnow and then-Solicitor General Elena Kagan at Harvard Law School.

She served on the Independent International Commission on Kosovo and helped to launch Imagine Co-existence, a program of the U.N .High Commissioner for Refugees, to promote peaceful development in post-conflict societies. Her five-year partnership with the federal Department of Education and the Center for Applied Special Technology worked to increase access to the curriculum for students with disabilities and resulted in both legislative initiatives and a voluntary national standard opening access to curricular materials for individuals with disabilities. She has worked on the Divided Cities initiative which is building an alliance of global cities dealing with ethnic, religious, or political divisions.[12]

During the 2008 Presidential campaign, then-Senator Obama said, "When I was at Harvard Law School I had a teacher who changed my life -- Martha Minow."[13] In August 2009, President Barack Obama nominated Dean Minow to the board of the Legal Services Corporation, a bi-partisan, government-sponsored organization that provides civil legal assistance to low-income Americans. The U.S. Senate confirmed her appointment on March 19, 2010 and she now serves as Vice-Chair and co-chair of its Pro Bono Task Force.[14]

She is a former member of the board of the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law, the Iranian Human Rights Documentation Center, and former chair of the Scholar’s Board of Facing History and Ourselves. A fellow of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences since 1992, Minow has also been a senior fellow of Harvard’s Society of Fellows, a member of Harvard University Press Board of Syndics, a senior fellow and twice acting director of what is now Harvard’s Safra Foundation Center on Ethics, a fellow of the American Bar Foundation and a Fellow of the American Philosophical Society. She has delivered more than 70 named or endowed lectures and key-note addresses.[15]

Selected works

See also


  1. Marquis Who's Who on the Web
  2. Harvard Law School
  3. "Candidates to replace Justice John Paul Stevens". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2010-08-06.
  4. Dean Martha Minow: Biography
  5. "Washingtonpost.Com". The Washington Post.
  6. "Names added to Supreme Court short list". CNN. April 12, 2010.
  7. Martha L. Minow
  8. Martha Minow Named New Dean of Harvard Law School « Above the Law: A Legal Web Site – News, Commentary, and Opinions on Law Firms, Lawyers, Law School, Law Suits, Judges and C...
  9. Martha Minow Appointed Dean of Harvard Law School | Harvard Magazine
  10. Jewish Women's Archive Blog Published June 12, 2009. Accessed December 2015.
  11. Haaretz Published March 9, 2013. Accessed December 2015.
  13. Samuel Gordon, "Obama and the Jews: An Inside Perspective", Shalom Hartman Institute (November 23, 2008)
  14. "Obama taps Martha Minow, John G. Levi for Legal Service Corporation Board". Chicago Sun-Times.
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Academic offices
Preceded by
Elena Kagan
Dean of Harvard Law School
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