Harvard Law School’s century-old legal magazine Law Review has named a Muslim director for the first time in its 134-year history. Student Hassaan Shahawy was thus elevated to the top of one of the most prestigious legal vehicles in the United States.
Born in Los Angeles, Calif., The Egyptian law student says he hopes his appointment represents “the law academy’s growing recognition of the importance of diversity and, perhaps, its growing respect for d ‘other legal traditions. “
Former President Barack Obama, elected in 1990 as the magazine’s first black director, is among the most influential lawyers and politicians who have passed through Law Review. In addition to him, three current members of the United States Supreme Court were editors of Law Review, as were Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died in 2020, and Justice Antonin Scalia, who died in 2016.
“Coming from a community demonized daily by American public discourse, I hope to represent progress, however small and symbolic,” Shahawy, 26, said in an email to Reuters.
In legal journals, the best performing law school students work. When they leave, they are usually hired to work as assistant judges and for other important jobs in the field.
The first woman president of Law Review, Susan Estrich, was elected in 1977. Latinos and gays also took office. The first black woman to hold this position was elected in 2017.
Shahawy graduated from Harvard in 2016, majoring in Middle Eastern History and Studies. He also studied, as a scholar, at the University of Oxford, for a doctorate in Oriental studies and Islamic law.
Shahawy is currently working actively with refugee populations and for US criminal law reforms. His plans for the future are still uncertain, although he is considering the possibility of becoming a public defender or pursuing an academic career.