Skip to the main content

Berkman Gift of $5.4 Million to Support Professorship for Entrepreneurial Legal Studies and Center for Internet & Society

Lawrence Lessig Named First Berkman Professor

Cambridge, MA – Harvard Law School has received a $5.4 million gift and bequest from Jack N. and Lillian R. Berkman.

The funding will support a new professorship, the Jack N. and Lillian R. Berkman Professorship for Entrepreneurial Legal Studies, as well as the activities of the School's Center for Internet and Society, which will now be known as the Berkman Center for Internet and Society.

Lawrence Lessig, a specialist in the areas of contracts, Constitutional law, and the law of cyberspace, has been named the first Berkman professor. The Berkman Center for Internet and Society encompasses the activities now headed by Professors Charles Nesson and Lawrence Lessig. Through its sponsorship of research and teaching, as well as national and international conferences and business and academic initiatives, the Center will focus on a range of worldwide legal and business issues raised by existing and new forms of information technology.

"We are enormously grateful for the generous support that the Berkmans have given Harvard Law School," said Dean Robert Clark. "The Berkman Professorship and the Berkman Center will allow us to expand our teaching and research activities into important, developing areas of the law."

The late Jack Berkman, Harvard Law School Class of '29, was a pioneer and highly successful entrepreneur in the communications industry. He was Chairman of The Associated Group, Inc., and its predecessor, Associated Communications Corporation. Together with his son, Myles P. Berkman, Harvard Law School Class of '61, and his two grandsons, Jack Berkman and his family transformed their vision of the future of communications into significant operation businesses. This included a portfolio of radio and television broadcasting stations, paging systems, cable television systems (later merged into Tele-Communications, Inc., making Associated one of the largest individual stockholders of TCI), and one of the nation's first cellular telephone companies (sold in 1994 to SBC Communications Inc.). Associated today remains a pioneer in fixed wireless telephony, as a co-founder of Teligent, Inc., a facilities based competitive local exchange carrier, and in mobile location technology through Associated's development of "TruePosition." Jack Berkman's legacy continues today with the Berkmans' continued pursuit of evolving communications interests.

"The initiatives of the Berkman Center are, and will be, a reflection and legacy to my Father's passion for the information age, new technology and the businesses built around them, and the law," said Myles Berkman.

Jack Berkman was an active philanthropist, participating on many nonprofit boards. He joined the Harvard Committee on University Resources in 1988, and was a member of the national councils of the Metropolitan Opera and Rockefeller University. He was also a director of the Retina Foundation and an advisory board member of the Skin Cancer Foundation. In addition to his Harvard Law studies, Mr. Berkman completed an A.B. at the University of Michigan in 1926.

Mr. Berkman's wife, Lillian Berkman, who received a B.A. and M.A. summa cum laude from New York University, is a Vice President of The Associated Group, Inc. and is a distinguished art collector. She is active on many corporate and nonprofit boards. Mrs. Berkman joined the Harvard Law School Visiting Committee in 1996 and is a charter member of the Dean's Advisory Board. She has been a Fellow in Perpetuity of the Metropolitan Museum of Art since 1964. She serves on the board of the Sterling National Bank of New York, and has served on numerous other corporate boards including Allied Stores and Michigan National Corporation. She is President of the General Alarm Corporation and of the Rojtman Foundation. Mrs. Berkman has served as cultural advisor to Coca-Cola and the government of Costa Rica. The University of the Philippines awarded her an honorary Doctorate in the Humanities in 1976, and Marquette University awarded her an honorary D.F.A. in 1996.

Lawrence Lessig became Professor of Law at Harvard Law School in the summer of 1997. He taught the Contracts course during the fall semester and the seminar on the High-Tech Entrepreneur during the January winter term.

The Center for Internet and Society was established in 1997 "to explore and understand cyberspace, community development in the space, the dynamics of growth, the development of norms, the necessity or lack thereof of laws," according to Professor Charles Nesson, Center Director. "We are a research Center, premised on the observation that what we seek to learn is not already recorded. Our method is to build out into the space, record as we go, self-study, and publish. Our mode is entrepreneurial non-profit." The Center's web address is This semester it is offering an online course, Privacy in Cyberspace, that is taught by Harvard Law Professor Arthur Miller and that is open to the public.