At the podium
Harvard News Office
One path, in focus
Much has changed for Hagan Scotten as he leaves Harvard Law School—just as when he left the U.S. Army in Iraq to come to HLS three years ago. But his habit of leaving highly decorated is intact.
A winner of two Bronze Stars as a troop commander in the Fifth Special Forces Group, Scotten was awarded the prestigious Fay Diploma at this year’s Commencement, reserved for the J.D. graduate with the highest grades of his or her class. Similarly, last year he was awarded the Sears Prize, given to the three students with the highest grades in the 2L year. He was also on the Harvard Law Review.
But Scotten’s legacy at HLS reaches far beyond the classroom: Last fall he was named best oralist at the Ames Moot Court Competition and was a member of the winning Charles Sumner Memorial Team. “Ames was a highlight for me when I think back to my time at Harvard,” said Scotten, whose team’s victory is even more impressive given that this year’s competition had one of the largest number of groups signed up (50) in recent history.
As he proved in uniform, Scotten’s commitment to excellence goes well beyond academia, illustrated by his 1L summer at the Counterterrorism Section of the Department of Justice’s National Security Division, an area of government work to which he hopes to return. First, Scotten has two clerkships ahead of him—with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, and then with U.S. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. ’79.
He believes Harvard Law School has prepared him well for these posts: “I think Harvard has a reputation for being more pragmatic than the other law schools. Learning how to interact with other very bright people who have their own set of formed opinions, and discuss ideas with them, is useful.”
Looking ahead, Scotten sees his next few years as a time when he can “learn firsthand how judges shape the law” and “what is actually driving their thinking.” The competitive nature of the work that lies ahead is one of the things that excites him the most: “I like environments where you are competing with each other to do the best job possible. I am a competitive person, and it’s great when you can have your natural competitive energy being focused on what is a good end.”