Leading scholar of civil procedure, constitutional law, Stephen Sachs joins HLS faculty

Stephen E. Sachs, a leading scholar of civil procedure and constitutional law, will join the faculty of Harvard Law School as the inaugural Antonin Scalia Professor of Law, effective July 1.

Sachs, who is currently the Colin W. Brown Professor at Duke Law School, researches a range of subjects including the law and theory of constitutional interpretation, the jurisdiction of state and federal courts, and the role of the general common law in the U.S. legal system.

“Professor Sachs is a thoughtful, creative, and impactful scholar who has offered fresh ways of thinking about law and interpretation and about the structure and content of U.S. law,” said John F. Manning ’85, the Morgan and Helen Chu Dean and Professor of Law at Harvard Law School. “He is also a great teacher and colleague, and I am delighted that he is joining the HLS community.”

Said Sachs: “I am delighted to join the faculty of Harvard Law School, where I took my first law school class from Charles Donahue as a medieval history undergraduate, and where I spent many happy hours reading through old statutes in Langdell. I am particularly honored to serve as the inaugural Antonin Scalia Professor, in recognition of Justice Scalia’s legacy in the law.”

Harvard Law School established the Antonin Scalia Professorship of Law in 2017, in honor of the late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia ’60. Known for his jurisprudence advancing originalism and textualism, Scalia served as an associate justice for 30 years until his death in 2016.

Sachs joined the Duke faculty in 2011 as an assistant professor, after practicing in the litigation group of Mayer Brown in Washington, D.C. He received tenure in 2016. He also taught as a visiting professor at the University of Chicago Law School in the Winter of 2020, and at Harvard Law School during the 2015–2016 academic term.

He is a member of the Judicial Conference’s Advisory Committee on Appellate Rules, an elected member of the American Law Institute, and an adviser to the ALI’s project on the Restatement of the Law (Third), Conflict of Laws.

Sachs has written numerous articles, essays, and book chapters. His work has appeared in the Harvard Law Review, the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy, the California Law Review, Constitutional Commentary, the Law & History Review, the Notre Dame Law Review, the Northwestern University Law Review, the Texas Law Review, the Virginia Law Review, and the Yale Law Journal, among others. His most recent work, “Originalism: Standard and Procedure,” is forthcoming in the Harvard Law Review in 2022.

In 2020, Sachs received the Federalist Society’s Joseph Story Award, which recognizes a young academic who has demonstrated excellence in legal scholarship, a commitment to teaching, a concern for students, and who has made a significant public impact in a manner that advances the rule of law in a free society.

In June 2013, Sachs wrote an amicus brief to the Supreme Court on forum selection agreements in civil cases. The Court ordered the parties in the case, Atlantic Marine Construction Co. v. U.S. District Court, to be prepared to address the brief, which was discussed at oral argument and in the Court’s opinion. The brief was later named among the “Exemplary Legal Writing of 2013” by the Green Bag Almanac & Reader legal journal.

Sachs clerked for Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. ’79 during the 2009–2010 Supreme Court term, and for the late Judge Stephen F. Williams ’61 of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit in 2007–2008.

Sachs received his J.D. from Yale Law School, where he was executive editor of the Yale Law Journal and served both as executive editor and articles editor of the Yale Law & Policy Review. A Rhodes Scholar, he graduated from Oxford University in 2004 with a first-class BA (Hons) degree in politics, philosophy, and economics. In 2002, he received his A.B. summa cum laude in history from Harvard University, earning the Sophia Freund Prize.

At HLS, Sachs will teach Civil Procedure, Conflict of Laws, and other public law courses.