Harvard Law School gets new seal


University seals are most definitely old school. Some date back more than a century and feature swords, shields, crowns and lions. Harvard Law School’s shield, which had been in use since the 1930s, came under fire about five years ago.

The seal was stained by slavery.

It contained the family crest of Isaac Royall Jr., who gave Harvard a bequest at his death in 1781 to establish the school’s first professorship. He was a slaveholder. 

When this was found out, a group of students called for the school to get rid of the crest, and five years ago it did so.

But the esteemed law school was not about to go seal-less. It created a working group to come up with a new crest, which was unveiled recently.

The group’s goal was to capture three themes: a diverse and pluralistic community; leadership that changes the world for the better; and the fundamental pursuit of law and justice.

The most prominent features on the new crest are the Latin words veritas, meaning truth, and lex et iustitia, meaning law and justice.

“I believe that the simple, elegant and beautiful design of this shield captures the complexity, the diversity, the limitlessness, the transformative power, the strength and the energy . . . in Harvard Law School,” said Dean John F. Manning.

Of course, some found the exercise too woke for their tastes. Dan McLaughlin wrote the following in the National Review:

“Dear Reader, you will doubtless be relieved to learn that one of the great problems of American society has finally been solved: Harvard Law School has a new seal.”

He went on to say that the new design “appears to be a wall-mounted light fixture.”

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