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Research with Impact

The visionaries who supported these programs can already see results

Photo of Professor Charles Ogletree Jr.
Tim Sloan/AFP/Getty Images

The impact of Harvard research programs extends well beyond Cambridge. Above: Professor Charles Ogletree Jr. ’78 (left), director of the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute, testifies before Congress on possible legislative responses to systemic racial violence.

Established by HLS Professor Charles J. Ogletree Jr. ’78 in 2005, the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice was designed to honor and continue the work of the celebrated civil rights lawyer. The institute engages in a variety of projects related to social and racial injustice. Some, like the Citizenship Project—which examines public opinion and socioeconomic conditions related to U.S. immigration policy—are research-based. Others, such as the Pathways Home project—which helps former prison inmates re-enter their communities—focus on community assistance. The institute also sponsors the Race and the Death Penalty project, in which students explore the causes of racial disparities in capital punishment, and sometimes intervene in individual cases. Ogletree says the work of the institute would not have been possible without the financial support it has received from alumni, particularly Michael Klein LL.M. ’67, and from Arthur Chong ’78, who orchestrated a Safeco corporate grant.

In 2003, the John M. Olin Center for Law, Economics, and Business received a $10 million grant from the Olin Foundation. That support has been matched by several donors, including Finn Caspersen ’66, chairman and CEO of Knickerbocker and chairman of the campaign; Sam Butler ’54, special counsel, Cravath, Swaine & Moore; and Robert Haas ’72, chairman and CEO of Haas Wheat & Partners. The Olin Center works to increase students’ understanding of law and economics, facilitate faculty research on the combined subjects, and raise awareness among lawyers and the general public about the relationship between economics and law. The center puts on seminars at HLS, and awards grants, prizes and fellowships, including the annual John M. Olin Prizes for the best papers by HLS students on economics and the law; the John M. Olin Fellowships in Law and Economics for students; and the Terence M. Considine [’71] Fellowships in Law and Social Sciences for recent HLS graduates—or Harvard Ph.D. candidates in the social sciences—planning academic careers combining law with economics, government or business.

Under the umbrella of the Olin Center is The Program on Corporate Governance, which was established in 2003 and is headed by Harvard Law Professor Lucian Bebchuk LL.M. ’80 S.J.D. ’84. With financial support from its Advisory Board members—leaders in corporate law, finance and business—the program hosts a variety of conferences, speakers and events on corporate stewardship, deal-making, securities law enforcement, business ethics and the role of the corporate lawyer. Scholarly work by Bebchuk and HLS’s other corporate law experts has attracted international recognition as among the best and most widely cited in the Social Sciences Research Network database, and some of Bebchuk’s proposals for changes in corporate bylaws (to increase the power of shareholders) have been adopted by several Fortune 500 companies.

The Program on International Financial Systems, under the leadership of Professor Hal Scott, provides assistance to governments in drafting financial regulations and laws, and has trained foreign judges, prosecutors and lawyers about financial law reform and securities enforcement, among other topics. PIFS also hosts an annual series of symposia and other conferences designed to foster dialogue between the leaders of financial systems and capital markets in the United States and Japan, China, Europe and Latin America. The program offers guidance to LL.M. candidates focused on international finance, and it publishes major research and policy papers. Last year, Scott enlisted the help of HLS students in the research and drafting of a major report addressing the ebbing competitiveness of U.S. capital markets. The project resulted in a set of recommendations and proposed reforms that were embraced by U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson. Scott says PIFS and its mission have thrived because of the generosity of supporters like Wilbur Ross Jr., the chairman and CEO of W.L. Ross & Co.


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