The Harvard Law Review is a law review published by an independent student group at Harvard Law School .


According to the Journal Citation Reports , the Harvard Law Review's 2015 impact factor of 4.979 placed the journal first out of 143 journals in the category "Law". It is published monthly from November through June, with the November issue dedicated to covering the previous year's term of the Supreme Court of the United States . The journal also publishes the online-only Harvard Law Review Forum , a rolling journal of scholarly responses to the main journal's content.

The Harvard Law Review Association, in conjunction with the Columbia Law Review , the University of Pennsylvania Law Review , and the Yale Law Journal , publishes the Bluebook : A Uniform System of Citation , a widely followed authority for legal citation formats in the United States.


The Harvard Law Review published its first issue on April 15, 1887, making it one of the oldest operating student-edited law reviews in the United States. The establishment of the journal was largely due to the support of Louis Brandeis , then a recent Harvard Law School alumnus and Boston attorney who would later go on to become a Justice on the Supreme Court of the United States.

From the 1880s to the 1970s, editors were selected on the basis of their grades; the president of the Review was the student with the highest academic rank. The first female editor of the journal was Priscilla Holmes (1953-1955, Volumes 67-68); [2] the first woman to serve as the journal's president was Susan Estrich (1977), who later was active in Democratic Party politics and became the youngest woman to receive tenure at Harvard Law School; its first non-white ethnic minority president was Raj Marphatia (1988, Volume 101), who is now a partner at the Boston law firm of Ropes & Gray ; [3] [4] [5] its first African-American president was the 44th President of the United States Barack Obama (1991); [6] its first openly gay president was Mitchell Reich (2011); [8] its first Latino president was Andrew M. Crespo. [11] The first female African-American president, ImeIme Umana, was elected in 2017. [84]

Gannett House, a white building constructed in the Greek Revival style that was popular in New England during the mid-to-late 19th century, has been home to the Harvard Law Review since the 1920s. Before moving into Gannett House, the journal resided in the Law School's Austin Hall .

Since the change of criteria in the 1970s, grades are no longer the primary basis of selection for editors. Membership in the Harvard Law Review is offered to select Harvard law students based on first-year grades and performance in a writing competition held at the end of the first year except for twelve slots that are offered on a discretionary basis. [12] [6] [14] The writing competition includes two components: an edit of an unpublished article and an analysis of a recent United States Supreme Court or Court of Appeals case. [12] The writing competition submissions are graded blindly to assure anonymity. [14] [15] Fourteen editors (two from each 1L section) are selected based on a combination of their first-year grades and their competition scores. Twenty editors are selected based solely on their competition scores. The remaining twelve editors are selected on a discretionary basis. According to the law review's webpage, "Some of these discretionary slots may be used to implement the Review's affirmative action policy." [12] The president of the Harvard Law Review is elected by the other editors. [6] [16]

It has been a long tradition, apparently since Day One, that the works of students published in the Harvard Law Review are called "notes" and not unsigned. This is in tension with the idea of individualism championed by the American intelligentia.


Prominent alumni of the Harvard Law Review include:

United States President

Supreme Court Justices

Other jurists

Cabinet secretaries

Other U.S. government officials

Other government officials


Other attorneys

Writers and journalists

Other alumni

See also