Tomiko Brown-Nagin appointed Professor of Law

Professor Tomiko Brown-Nagin

Professor Tomiko Brown-Nagin

Tomiko Brown-Nagin, a leading expert on legal history, constitutional law, and civil rights, will join the Harvard Law School faculty as a tenured Professor of Law this summer. She will also serve as an affiliate of the History Department in Harvard University’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences.

Brown-Nagin is currently the T. Munford Boyd and Justice Thurgood Marshall Distinguished Professor of Law and Professor of History at the University of Virginia, where she co-directs the Legal History Colloquium and teaches courses on American social and legal history, constitutional law, education law and policy, and public interest law.

Announcing the appointment, Harvard Law School Dean Martha Minow said: “Tomiko Brown-Nagin’s superb scholarship illuminates the roles of individuals, social movements, as well as political and legal structures in historical struggles over civil rights with assiduous attention to local details and fearless examination of tensions among allies. I am delighted that she will bring her expertise in law and social change, constitutional law, and American history, along with her intellectual curiosity and devotion to mentoring students at Harvard. I know that she will also strengthen ties between the law school and the Department of History.”

Professor Brown-Nagin has written widely on legal history and civil rights, including numerous law and history journal articles, book chapters, essays and book reviews. Oxford University Press recently published her book, “Courage to Dissent: Atlanta and the Long History of the Civil Rights Movement,” a work about three generations of lawyers and community-based activism during the Civil Rights Era. A reviewer in the Journal of American History hailed Courage to Dissent a “model for integrating the national and local histories of civil rights struggles” that “succeeds brilliantly as both narrative history and legal analysis.” Brown-Nagin is currently working on a biography of Constance Baker Motley, the civil rights lawyer, politician, and federal judge.

“I am honored to join the Harvard faculty,” Brown-Nagin said. “The university offers unparalleled opportunities for interaction with eminent colleagues, for cross-disciplinary collaboration, and for teaching talented students. It is thrilling to become a part of such a rich intellectual environment.”

Brown-Nagin is returning to Harvard after visiting in 2008, when she was the Charles Warren Visiting Professor of American Legal History. From 1999 to 2000 she was a Charles Hamilton Houston Fellow at Harvard.

Prior to joining the University of Virginia’s faculty in 2006, Brown-Nagin held associate professorships in law and history at Washington University in St. Louis. She also has held the Samuel I. Golieb Fellowship in Legal History at New York University School of Law.

Brown-Nagin is involved in a variety of professional endeavors. She is a member of the Board of Directors of the American Society for Legal History; a reviewer for Law & History Review; a member of the editorial board for the American Bar Foundation’s Law & Social Inquiry journal; has served as a member of the selection committee for National Endowment for the Humanities/Library of Congress Fellowship competitions; and has been a consultant for the National Center for Civil and Human Rights.

Before entering academia, Brown-Nagin clerked for Judge Robert L. Carter of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York and Judge Jane Roth of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. She also worked as a litigation associate at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison in New York.

Brown-Nagin holds a J.D. from Yale University, where she served as an editor of the Yale Law Journal; received an M.A. and a Ph.D. in history from Duke University, where she held a James B. Duke Endowment Fellowship and received a Spencer Foundation Dissertation Fellowship; and earned a B.A. in history, summa cum laude, from Furman University, where she was awarded the Harry S Truman Scholarship.