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Martha Minow has taught at Harvard Law School since 1981, where her courses include civil procedure, constitutional law, family law, international criminal justice, jurisprudence, law and education, nonprofit organizations, and the public law workshop. An expert in human rights and advocacy for members of racial and religious minorities and for women, children, and persons with disabilities, she also writes and teaches about media regulation, privatization, and ethnic and religious conflict.  This fall, with Cynthia Dwork, she is co-teaching Fairness and Privacy: Perspectives from Law and Probability. 

Besides her many scholarly articles published in journals of law, history, and philosophy, her books include When Should Law Forgive? (2019); The First Global Prosecutor: Promise and Constraints (co-edited, 2015); In Brown’s Wake: Legacies of America’s Constitutional Landmark (2010); Government by Contract (co-edited, 2009); Just Schools: Pursuing Equality in Societies of Difference (co-edited, 2008); Breaking the Cycles of Hatred: Memory, Law and Repair (edited by Nancy Rosenblum with commentary by other authors, 2003); Partners, Not Rivals: Privatization and the Public Good (2002); Engaging Cultural Differences: The Multicultural Challenge in Liberal Democracies (co-edited 2002); Between Vengeance and Forgiveness: Facing History After Genocide and Mass Violence (1998); Not Only for Myself: Identity, Politics and Law (1997); Law Stories (co-edited 1996); Narrative, Violence and the Law: The Essays of Robert M. Cover (co-edited 1992); and Making All the Difference: Inclusion, Exclusion, and American Law (1990). She is the co-editor of two law school casebooks, Civil Procedure: Doctrine, Practice and Context (3rd. edition 2008) and Women and the Law (4th edition 2007), and a reader, Family Matters: Readings in Family Lives and the Law (1993).

She has served as the Vice-Chair of the Legal Services Corporation, the bi-partisan, government-sponsored organization that provides civil legal assistance to low-income Americans, as a board member of the CBS Corporation, and on the Center for Strategic and International Studies Commission on Countering Violent Extremism and on the Independent International Commission Kosovo.  She 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 served as the inaugural chair of the Deans Steering Committee of the Association of American Law Schools and as a member of the American Bar Association Diversity and Inclusion 360 Commission.  She previously chaired the board of directors for the Revson Foundation (New York) and served in the boards of the Covenant Foundation, the American Bar Foundation,  the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law, the Iranian Human Rights Documentation Center, and Facing History and Ourselves, where she chaired the Scholar’s Board. Her honors include: the Sargent Shriver Equal Justice Award (2016), Joseph B. and Toby Gittler Prize, Brandeis University (2016); nine honorary degrees (in law, education, and humane letters) from schools in three countries; the Gold Medal for Outstanding Contribution to Public Discourse, awarded by the College Historical Society of Trinity College, Dublin, in recognition of efforts to promote discourse and intellectualism on a world stage; the Holocaust Center Award; and the Sacks-Freund Teaching Award, awarded by the Harvard Law School graduating class.

She currently is a member of the boards of the Advantage Testing Foundation, the Campaign Legal Center the Carnegie Corporation, the MacArthur Foundation, the Russell Sage Foundation, and the SCE Foundation.  She is a member of the American Academy of Sciences Committee on Science, Technology, and Law. She co-chairs the advisory board of MIT’s new Schwarzman College of Computing. 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 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 keynote addresses.

Minow served as Dean of Harvard Law School between 2009-2017, as the inaugural Morgan and Helen Chu Dean and Professor. Minow co-chaired the Law School’s curricular reform committee from 2003 to 2006, an effort that led to significant innovation in the first-year curriculum as well as new programs of study for second- and third-year J.D. students.  She currently holds the chair designated as the 300th Anniversary University Professor at Harvard University.

After completing her undergraduate studies at the University of Michigan, Minow received a master’s degree in education from Harvard and her law degree from Yale. She 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 Supreme Court of the United States. 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, became the Jeremiah Smith Jr., Professor of Law in 2005, and after her service as dean, became the Carter Professor Of General Jurisprudence in 2017.  She is also a lecturer in the Harvard Graduate School of Education and Distinguished Service Professor at Harvard University.  Her husband, Joseph W. Singer, is the Bussey Professor of Law at Harvard Law School and their daughter, Mira Singer, is a writer and artist.  Minow enjoys watching and discussing movies and keeping in touch with current and former students.

Projects & Tools

The Bridge

The Bridge is divided into two major parts: a six-unit series on legal reasoning, and a series of modules on American Legal Theory, divided into six "tracks" representing…



The Lawfare Podcast: Can America Save the News?

Martha Minow and evelyn douek share how the decline of local news hurts democracy.

Jul 8, 2021
Harvard Law Today

The law is ‘tested and illuminated during this pandemic’

Martha Minow, Urs Gasser, and Jonathan Zittrain participate in colloquium on governmental powers during a pandemic

Sep 16, 2020

How Can Restorative Justice Create A More Equitable Legal System?

Martha Minow discusses restorative justice on NPR

Jul 10, 2020
The Boston Globe

A legal lens on home

Law and documentary film may seem far apart, but they actually share many connections

Nov 18, 2019

Why we need a more forgiving legal system

Martha Minow on the possibilities of restorative justice.

Nov 15, 2019
Harvard Law Today

Forgiveness in an age of ‘justified resentments’

Martha Minow explores the complicated intersection of the law, justice, and forgiveness

Nov 6, 2019
The Boston Globe

‘I forgive you’ may prove to be the most just thing we can do

Martha Minow on the power – and nuance – of forgiveness

Nov 4, 2019

Martha Minow On Forgiveness In The Criminal Justice System

Martha Minow examines a range of areas where the legal system offers opportunities for absolution, and asks where they might be used more, and where they should not

Oct 3, 2019

Technical Flaws of Pretrial Risk Assessments Raise Grave Concerns

Twenty-seven prominent researchers from MIT, Harvard, Princeton, NYU, UC Berkeley and Columbia have signed an open statement of concern regarding the use of actuarial risk…

Jul 17, 2019
Harvard Law Today

Martha Minow on the art of asking good questions

In a last lecture to the graduating classes of J.D.s and LL.M.s, the former HLS dean invokes "The Next Generation" to impart final words of wisdom

May 7, 2019


Law, Justice, and Design: Making Legal Systems for Human Beings - Spring 2021

This seminar will provide students with an opportunity to focus on the perspectives of individuals who need to access or navigate the legal system…

Constitutional Law 7 - Spring 2021

This course provides an introduction to the structure of the U.S. Constitution and the rights and liberties it defines. Topics include judicial review, federalism, separation…

Freedom of Speech Frontiers: Comparative and Global Perspectives - Fall 2020

Professor Martha Minow, evelyn douek The interconnected…

Fairness and Privacy: Perspectives of Law and Probability - Fall 2020

Professor Martha Minow, Professor Cynthia Dwork From old problems like affirmative action to newer ones like the…

Law, Justice and Design: Making Legal Systems for Human Beings - Spring 2020

Professor Martha Minnow This seminar will provide students with an opportunity…

Constitutional Law: Separation of Powers, Federalism, and Fourteenth Amendment - Fall 2019

Professor Martha Minow This course is one of the two basic courses in the field; it focuses on…

Fairness and Privacy: Perspectives of Law and Probability - Fall 2019

Professor Martha Minow From old problems like affirmative action to newer ones like the turn to…

Digital Power, Digital Interpretation, Digital Making - Fall 2012

This is a working seminar designed to explore these questions through a cluster of projects designed to cross theorizing with making.


May 19, 2021 @ 12:00 PM

Mistrust: How to revitalize civics at a moment of low public trust in institutions

Video & Podcast: A book talk with Ethan Zuckerman and Martha Minow

Video & Podcast: Author and digital communities scholar Ethan Zuckerman, in conversation with Martha Minow, discusses his new book on mistrust in American and global institutions…

Oct 4, 2018 @ 5:30 PM

Network Propaganda

Manipulation, Disinformation, and Radicalization in American Politics

VIDEO & PODCAST: New research on the media ecosystem around the 2016 US election offer new perspectives and methods for diagnosing the sources of, and potential solutions for, the…

Mar 22, 2017 @ 12:00 PM

Fake News, Concrete Responses

At the Nexus of Law, Technology, and Social Narratives

Join us for a special Harvard Law School-Berkman Klein Fake News Lunch Panel moderated by Martha Minow, Dean of Harvard Law School

Sep 10, 2014 @ 5:30 PM

Berkman's Digital Problem-Solving Initiative (DPSI) Kickoff

at the Harvard Graduate School of Education

Please join the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University for the kickoff of the 2014-2015 Digital Problem-Solving Initiative.

Sep 11, 2011 @ 5:00 PM

News and Entertainment in the Digital Age: A Vast Wasteland Revisited

In 1961, Newt Minow – then Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission – delivered a landmark speech to the National Association of Broadcasters on “Television and the…

Feb 17, 2009 @ 5:00 PM

Secrecy: Film Screening and Roundtable

Peter Galison, Robb Moss, Jonathan Zittrain, Martha Minow, and Jack Goldsmith

The Berkman Center, Peter Galison, and Robb Moss present a screening of the film "Secrecy," a film about the vast, invisible world of government secrecy, followed by a roundtable…