Leading Voice in the Legal Field: Jeannie Suk Gersen


A distinguished professor at Harvard Law School, Jeannie Suk Gersen’s work in constitutional law, criminal law, and family law has had a profound impact on legal scholarship and practice. Her insights, drawn from a combination of rigorous academic research and practical experience, provide a unique perspective on contemporary legal challenges. With her thought-provoking commentary and engaging delivery, Professor Gersen inspires and informs audiences from within the legal community and beyond.


Jeannie Suk Gersen is the John H. Watson, Jr. Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, where she has taught courses on constitutional law, criminal law and procedure, family law, discrimination, sexual assault and harassment, campus and workplace misconduct, and the law of art, fashion, and the performing arts. She is a Contributing Writer and legal correspondent for The New Yorker, for which she covers the Supreme Court and other important legal developments.

Professor Gersen was born in Seoul, South Korea and immigrated to the United States with her family in 1979 when she was six, settling in Queens, New York. She attended Hunter College High School and received the school’s Distinguished Graduate Award (an honor also awarded to Elena Kagan and Lin-Manuel Miranda). As a teenager, she was a student at the School of American Ballet and studied piano and composition at the Juilliard School’s Pre-College Division.

Professor Gersen earned a B.A. from Yale University in 1995, a D.Phil in Modern Languages (French literature) in 1999 from Oxford University, where she was a Marshall Scholar, and a J.D. from Harvard Law School where she was a Paul and Daisy Soros Fellow. She served as a law clerk to Justice David Souter on the United States Supreme Court and to Judge Harry Edwards on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. She served as an Assistant District Attorney at the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office. In 2006 she joined the Harvard Law School faculty and became the first Asian American woman to receive tenure at Harvard Law School in 2010.

She has written three books and many articles in scholarly journals and general media. Her book, At Home in the Law, was awarded the Law and Society Association’s Herbert Jacob Prize for the best law and society book of the year. Her Korean memoir, The World I Wanted to See, was a bestseller in Korea and China. She has received numerous awards including a Guggenheim Fellowship and Harvard Law School’s Sacks-Freund Award for Teaching Excellence.

She is married to Jacob Gersen, has two children and two stepchildren, and lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.


Affirmative Action and Diversity in Workplaces and Schools
The Supreme Court in Students for Fair Admissions v. Harvard held that race-conscious affirmative action, or using race in an admissions decision is not permissible. The next several years will involve uncertainty about the implications of this legal ruling for admissions and other institutions including employment. Lawsuits to challenge the use of diversity considerations in hiring and promotion of employees are already underway, and there is no doubt that the Supreme Court will eventually confront the question of how far its ban on affirmative action will reach. In this talk, Professor Gersen speaks about this legal landscape and possible future directions.

Free Speech and Discrimination in Academic Institutions and Workplaces
Even as our society has been highly polarized and divided, institutions such as universities and workplaces have welcomed increasingly diverse communities and shown increased attention to addressing discrimination within them. The free exchange of ideas is necessary to a healthy academic culture as well as for innovative, creative, and productive workplaces, but sometimes that runs into allegations that someone’s free speech caused discomfort and even created an hostile environment for others. Professor Gersen talks about the difficult nexus of free speech, discrimination, and how institutions can benefit from and manage the challenges of a community that is diverse on many dimensions.

The Supreme Court: Court, Cases, Context
Professor Gersen can speak to professional audiences, and those interested in legal context and behind-the-scenes, about the Supreme Court. She gives background into cases that have been recently decided or are pending at a given moment. In the run-up to the 2024 Presidential election, Professor Gersen can provide background on the cases related to former president Donald Trump. In addition to the Supreme Court, Professor Gersen can focus her talks and in-conversation formats on various legal areas, ranging from criminal law and family law to copyright and art law.


Please contact us about booking Jeannie Suk Gersen to speak at your event.