Cogan establishes fund for International Legal Studies at Harvard Law School

A gift of $6 million from John F. Cogan, Jr. ’52 will be used in support of Harvard Law School’s International Legal Studies (ILS) program, Dean Elena Kagan ’86 announced today.

John F. Cogan, Jr. ’52

John F. Cogan, Jr. ’52

The gift—part of Mr. Cogan’s overall commitment to the school’s recent Setting the Standard campaign—establishes the Cogan Fund for International Legal Studies, and is intended to further enhance the Law School’s extensive and growing international programs—programs that now involve hundreds of students annually and a broad range of faculty.

Building on strength, the Cogan Fund is intended to provide support for such critical components of the ILS program as financial aid for the many international students who annually attend the Law School; the development and teaching of new courses in international and comparative law; faculty and student research; collaboration with foreign institutions; and conferences with an international focus. A portion of the resources may be used for Russian legal studies, an area of particular interest to Cogan.

“I couldn’t be more delighted that Jack Cogan has chosen to make international legal studies the focus of his extraordinary generosity,” said Harvard Law School Dean Elena Kagan ’86. “In my years as Dean, I have benefited from his counsel and wisdom in countless ways, and the Law School has been strengthened by his acute understanding of the importance of studying the international dimensions and ramifications of law. He has been a pillar of this institution for many years, and I am personally grateful for all his support and friendship.”

Said Cogan: “The Law School has been an important part of my life, and I have been extraordinarily pleased by its ongoing internationalization and the expanding role that its graduates are playing internationally. In establishing this fund, my intention is to further advance the spirit of internationalization at the Law School for future generations.”

William Alford, Harvard Law School’s Vice Dean for the Graduate Program and International Legal Studies, said: “It has been a profound honor to work with Jack Cogan over the past several years in building upon Harvard’s great heritage in international legal studies. He is an individual of immense wisdom, compassion, and vision. At the outset of the Setting the Standard campaign, seeing the ways in which our international students enrich and benefit from the Law School, Jack Cogan and Domenico de Sole LL.M. ’72 established a large matching scholarship fund. Midway through, his support enabled us to develop the Law School’s first international joint degree program (with the University of Cambridge). Now, at its end, through this magnificent gift, he is ensuring that Harvard will continue to be a beacon of learning and understanding in an increasingly globalized world. And throughout, his example—as an astute but genuinely humble counselor for whom the institution’s long-term interests are paramount—has been an inspiration for others fortunate enough to have worked with him.”

International legal studies have long occupied a position of prominence at the Law School (for example, students in the 19th century were required to study international law) but in recent years, Harvard has built dramatically on this historic foundation. Among the highlights:

  • As a central component of the curricular reform launched last year, every 1L will take one of five specially designed courses in international or comparative law. Including upper year offerings, the Law School now typically makes available to students more than 65 different courses with an international or comparative focus, as well as the opportunity to work on a more individual basis with faculty.
  • Over the past half dozen years, the Law School has added to its ranks a bevy of important specialists in international and comparative law, including Gabriella Blum, Rachel Brewster, Noah Feldman, Jack Goldsmith, Gerald Neuman, Mark Tushnet and Alex Whiting.. They join a faculty, the large majority of whose members engage international and comparative law in their teaching, writing, or public service work and an affiliated faculty, drawn from other Harvard schools, of international studies scholars including Dani Rodrik, Amartya Sen and Beth Simmons.
  • The Law School is home to the only large master’s degree program in North America that admits international students irrespective of financial need, enabling Harvard to enroll some 150 of the world’s best law students from over 60 nations annually. Some of the strongest such students continue on in a doctoral program whose graduates are being hired at leading law schools across the globe, including Chicago, Georgetown, Harvard, London, NYU, Tel Aviv, Toronto, and Virginia.
  • Hundreds of students now go abroad annually in clinical programs, for semester or yearlong study abroad, to conduct winter term research, and for both public interest and private summer work opportunities. The Law School offers a joint degree program with the University of Cambridge and has vibrant exchanges with universities in Australia, Brazil, Chile, China, Japan, South Africa, and Switzerland, in addition to which students may craft customized semesters abroad at other institutions.
  • Together with Stanford Law School, Harvard has launched an annual international junior faculty forum intended to build scholarly relationships among the most promising younger law academics worldwide and with a distinguished panel of senior figures drawn from across the globe.
  • Adding to its unparalleled array of research programs and projects, the Law School in 2004 established the Harvard Law School Project on Disability—a first-of-its-kind endeavor promoting the rights of persons with disabilities through law across the world.

Cogan is a former chairman and managing partner of the law firm of Hale & Dorr (now WilmerHale), and a former chairman of its corporate department. He joined the firm after graduating from HLS in 1952, and he retired from the firm in 1999, becoming of counsel.

Cogan’s earlier support of HLS includes gifts to establish the John F. Cogan, Jr. Professorship of Law & Economics (currently held by Professor John Coates) and gifts (along with others from Hale & Dorr and its HLS alumni partners) supporting the Legal Services Center in Jamaica Plain.

Since 1985, Cogan has served on the HLS Visiting Committee, and he has been a member of the Dean’s Advisory Board since its inception. In the recently concluded Setting the Standard Campaign, he served as a campaign co-chair. From 1990-95, Cogan served as chairman of the Harvard Law School Campaign, and from 1981-83 he served as chairman of the Harvard Law School Fund. In 1996, he received the Harvard Law School Association Award in honor of his service. He has also been a longtime benefactor of many other Boston institutions, including the Museum of Fine Arts, the Boston Symphony, Boston Medical Center, and Walker Home and School.