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First Gay Student to Lead Harvard Law Review--What Took So Long?

Vivia Chen

February 10, 2011

Law-review.inside Could Mitch Reich (pictured right) be the first openly gay president of the United States one day? Well, if history is a clue, it's possible. Harvard Law School just announced that Reich, a second-year law student, has been elected president of the school's law review--the first openly gay person to lead the journal in its 125-year history.

President Obama, as you might know, was the first black person to head Harvard Law Review back in 1990. So being the "first" to lead the prestigious journal is a fine feather in anyone's cap, potentially opening some mighty big doors in the future.

Reich, a New Yorker, already has politics in his blood. The Harvard Crimson reports that he served as student body president at Dalton (a private school in Manhattan),  campaigned for former New York governor Eliot Spitzer and President Obama, and interned with New York senator Charles Schumer.

But to me the real news behind both Obama and Reich's election to the top position on the journal  is that it's taken Harvard so long. Frankly, I'm not sure which is more amazing--that it took 104 years to get a black person on the top spot, or 125 years to get a gay man there. Could the wall of the venerable law review be even tougher to climb than those of the most established law firms?

Of course, Reich might not actually be the first gay president of Harvard Law Review. It's possible that there have been others, but they weren't "openly" gay. Short of some juicy finds in the Harvard archives, we'll never know for sure.

Reich told the Crimson that "being gay is a nonissue for the Harvard Law Review community, but that he recognizes the significance of the election." As for his plans for the review, he told the Crimson that he intends to expand the web edition of the law review and "be more conscientious about the length of legal articles—keeping articles at around 25,000 and below 30,000 words."

Oh, that sounds radical--not to mention enormous fun. Hey, what about that gay agenda?!

In any case, better late than never. Congrats to Reich.

Related post: "First Gay and Female on Marquee."


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Enough with these meaningless firsts. What next? HLR will trumpet the first gay black man to be editor? Or the first lesbian Asian woman? Or... . I mean enough. Who cares anyway? Treat everyone like individuals and people, not some "first" this or that.

@ Charlie

Glad you think you know me. Actually, I wish every guy in the world were gay besides me. My comment was concerning the article's bias.

I just hope you're as tolerant as you claim when a guy like me who likes to do hookers and swap partners runs for president of the law review.

Look at it statistically. Out of how many hundreds of students that attend Harvard Law School every year are there either African Americans or openly gay men or women even applying for that prestigious position? Perhaps if either community had put up more candidates sooner, it wouldn't have taken over 100 years.

Mr. Johanson, gays do not "have a gay editor," as you so inelegantly state. LGBTs "are," and we are in abundance-10% of any population is a credible estimate. And we are frequently very good students. So the likelihood that there have been gay law review presidents in Harvard's past is close to 100%. The issue is that people in the past did not dare to come out because of people like you. (BTW, I published my law review article and graduated in the top 1% of my law school; what have you done?) Just sayin.'

Interesting the way you frame it, Vivia.

You say its taken "Harvard" so long to have a gay editor; maybe its just taken gays that long to have someone who merits that position.

Just sayin'.

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The Careerist takes an inside look at how lawyers shape their careers and manage their lives. The blog aims to dissect developments in the profession, provide useful information and advice, and give lawyers a platform to voice their views. The goal is to provide a fresh, provocative take on the state of lawyering.

About Vivia Chen

Vivia Chen

Vivia Chen, The Careerist's chief blogger, has been covering the business and culture of law firms for a decade. A former corporate lawyer, Chen is fascinated by those who thrive (as well as those who don't) in the legal profession. Her take: Success in the law (and life) doesn't always travel a linear path. If you have topics you'd like to discuss or information to share, contact her: VChen@alm.com

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