The Harvard Law School Shield: A Timeline

This timeline offers a brief overview of the events that led up to the decision to retire the HLS shield.

  •  December 6, 1937: The Harvard Corporation approves the arms la Rose designed for the university, college, seven houses, and graduate schools (including HLS)
  • c.1950-c.1990: The shield is used inconsistently throughout the school 
  • Mid-1990s-2015: The shield comes into wider use as an “apparent effort to give Law School publications a more consistent ‘brand’”   
  • October 23, 2015: Royall Must Fall holds a kickoff rally, releases statement officially announcing movement, and calls on the school to remove the Royall family crest from the Law School’s shield 
  • November 18, 2015: Royall Must Fall publishes an open letter to Dean Minow demanding the shield be changed 
  • November 19, 2015: Black tape is placed over the tenure photos of Black faculty by a person or persons unknown; a community meeting is called 
  • November 2015: Dean Minow convenes a working group chaired by Professor Bruce H. Mann to “study, discuss, and make a recommendation about the law school shield” 
  • November 2015: A dedicated email account, royall@law.harvard.edu is set up for the HLS community to communicate their opinions, views, and concerns about the shield 
  • November-December 2015: Dean Minow appoints two alumni to the shield working group, James E. Bowers ’70 and Robert J. Katz ’72 
  • January 8, 2016: HLS student government appoints Rena Karefa-Johnson ’16, Annie Rittgers ’17, and Mawuse Oliver Barker- Vormawor LL.M. ’16 to the working group 
  • January 22, 2016: HLS Joint Council appoints staff members S. Darrick Northington and Yih-hsien Shen ’95 to the Committee 
  • February 1, 2016: Committee Chair, Bruce H. Mann emails the HLS community with an update and announcement of two community meetings 
  • February 4 & 12, 2016: The HLS Shield Committee hosts two community meetings on campus 
  • February 18, 2016: Professor Mann sends an email to all alumni, soliciting views on the shield 
  • March 4, 2016: Professor Mann transmits the Shield Committee’s report and recommendation and a separate opinion from two members of the Committee to Dean Minow. The dean transmits these to the Corporation via a letter in which she endorses the recommendation to retire the shield. The dean shares all of these documents with the entire HLS community 
  • March 14, 2016: Dean Minow receives a letter on behalf of the Harvard Corporation from President Drew Faust and Senior Fellow William F. Lee approving the recommendation to retire the HLS shield, which is shared by email with the HLS community and also by publication on the HLS website. The Corporation suggests that the Law School’s Bicentennial in 2017 might be an appropriate opportunity to adopt a new shield reflecting the values and mission of the school. 
  • March 18, 2016: Administrative Dean Francis X. McCrossan emails the HLS community with updates and instructions for retiring the shield 
  • Spring/Summer 2016: The shield is removed from campus locations, social media channels, online platforms, and print material