The Center on the Legal Profession is a research organization dedicated to providing a richer understanding of the rapidly changing global legal profession.
The Center’s core mission rests on conducting unbiased, evidence-based research on the global legal profession.
The Center innovates and implements new methods and content for teaching law students, legal academics, and practicing lawyers across the arc of their careers.
The Center is a bridge between legal practitioners and the academy.
Led by academics and scholars from various fields — including law, sociology, business, psychology, organizational behavior, economics, and engineering — the Center’s research on the legal profession is rigorous and is often defined by its interdisciplinary approach. Our network of researchers from around the world provide deep knowledge and unrivaled access to insights and data on the legal profession. And, the Center’s institutional home at Harvard Law School offers unparalleled access to the most innovative thinking from across the academy.
Major Books on the Legal Profession
Over the last 15 years, Center scholars have published more than 70 journal articles and over 15 major books on the legal profession
The Center’s research is in the field, utilizing cutting-edge quantitative and qualitative methods, including surveys, focus groups, interviews, and field experiments. Indeed, because the Center is housed at a university, unlike many other types of organizations, all of our research must conform to the highest standards of impartiality. We view this as a fundamental strength. By using rigorous, academically-based research methods, we ensure that all of the knowledge that we produce is unbiased, accurate, and contributes to building a better legal profession.
The Center conducts research across six pillars of thought:
Globalization – How the legal profession is changing around the world.
Careers & Diversity – How legal careers are changing, and the importance of diversity and inclusion in the profession.
Innovation & Legal Markets – How changes in regulatory structures, technology, and market forces impact the delivery of legal services.
Legal Practice – How professionalism, collaboration, and new models of organizational behavior influence the practice of law.
Legal Education – How to prepare students and seasoned practitioners for a rapidly changing legal profession.
Access to Justice – How to deliver legal services most effectively to underrepresented populations.
Through the Center’s Academic Fellowship Program, we are committed to preparing the next generation of legal scholars. Every year, the Center hosts some of the brightest young academic talent conducting research on the profession. Our fellows form a critical component of our academic community while in-residence in our state-of-the-art Research Lab. Fellows have researched topics as wide-ranging as the professional identities of lawyers, regulatory change and its impact on access to justice, lawyers in politics, and mentorship in the profession. Our fellows have gone on to faculty positions at major universities in the United States, India, Korea, and Canada.
The Center also runs a Senior Fellows Program comprised of distinguished academics and practitioners. These senior fellows play an important role in the Center’s work, including participating in research projects, teaching law students and practitioners, and connecting the Center to critical developments around the world.
The Center is at the forefront of developing new academic courses on the profession for law students. These courses bring our research directly into the classroom, helping to train the next generation of lawyer-leaders. Recent courses that have featured the Center’s research and that have been taught by CLP faculty and fellows include, Challenges of a General Counsel, Law 2.0: Technology’s Impact on the Practice of Law, the Legal Profession Seminar, Boards of Directors and Corporate Governance, Globalization: Business, Legal and Public Policy Issues, and The Problem Solving Workshop.
Over the past 12 years, the Center has hosted 20 research fellows from around the world
We maintain a robust partnership with HLS Executive Education, originally launched by the Center in 2007, with the goal of providing training for lawyers over the arc of their careers. The Center’s research features prominently in HLS Executive Education courses on leadership in the profession including, Leadership in Law Firms and Leadership in Corporate Counsel. Center faculty and fellows are also core members of the teaching faculty of these programs.
The Center also has an extensive partnership with the HLS Case Development Initiative, originally launched by CLP in 2009. The Case Development Initiative develops business school-style cases on lawyers and legal institutions, and on topics such as leadership, innovation, compensation, professional development, strategy, and globalization.
Teaching and Collaboration Space
The Center has developed an innovative, collaboration-focused classroom and teaching space equipped with a Hybrid Studio Teaching Space, 15 Microsoft Surface Hubs and over 100 Surface Pros
Through our high-impact events, we bring our research and teaching directly to leading academics, practitioners, and policymakers.
Our conferences bring together hundreds of thought leaders and offer an opportunity to create meaningful dialogue about the key challenges facing the legal profession. These events allow us to showcase the Center’s research as well as provide an opportunity for our researchers to learn from those that we study each and every day — practicing lawyers. This exchange of knowledge highlights the uniqueness of our events and is critical to all that we do. Over the past decade, we have hosted major conferences on topics including, Professionalism in the 21st Century, Disruptive Innovation in the Market for Legal Services, The Future of Legal Education, and The Indian Legal Profession in the Age of Globalization.
Since 2008, the Center has hosted over 45 conferences and events in 10 countries and across 5 continents
In addition to convening major conferences, the Center also hosts colloquia and other smaller events, bringing together groups of lawyers, academics, policymakers and thought leaders to engage in in-depth, workshop-style discussions. These colloquia, underpinned by Center research, exemplify the importance of deep engagement between the academy and legal professionals and highlight the unique role an academic research center can play in understanding the critical changes taking place in the global legal profession. Recent colloquia include Operationalizing Innovation, Teamwork and Collaboration, and Women as Lawyers and Leaders.
Annual Awards Dinners
Since 2014, CLP has hosted a major awards dinner where we bring together members of the legal community to honor those whose achievements have contributed to building a stronger legal profession. The Center’s empirical research forms the heart of our dinners — research that underpins the event’s content and is central to the lives of our honorees.
Finally, the Center publishes The Practice, a unique digital magazine that takes cutting-edge, empirical research on the global legal profession and makes it accessible to busy practitioners. Each issue of The Practice features an in-depth examination of a core theme and includes original research on that topic as well as views from thought leaders in and around the legal profession. Some of our most popular issues have focused on Professionalism in the 21st Century, Why Law Firms Collapse, Strategy in the Law, The Reemergence of the Big Four, Lawyers and Politics, and Character and Fitness. All of this is delivered to busy practitioners through an innovative, easy-to-use digital platform.