Crossing Divides Program

The Ronnie F. Heyman ’72 Crossing Divides Program

Students in a classroom with their backs to the camera listen to Dean Heather Gerken speak at the front of the room with Bob Bauer and Ben Ginsberg seated next to her.

The Ronnie F. Heyman ’72 Crossing Divides Program establishes a formal speaker series that brings together high-profile leaders from opposite sides of major national debates to discuss how they bridge differences and work to understand each other.

The program, announced in October 2023, is designed to foster discourse across the political and ideological spectrum and reinforce the core values of lawyering.

The Crossing Divides Program will also provide co-teaching opportunities for courses and support student initiatives that reinforce this work. 

“At a moment when the world is increasingly polarized, our ability to work through differences and uphold the finest values of this profession has never been more critical,” said Dean Heather K. Gerken. “At Yale Law School, we have a storied tradition of not only crossing divides, but forging friendships across divides.”

The Crossing Divides Program is part of the Tsai Leadership Program at Yale Law School. Over the coming year, the program will announce additional events and opportunities for students to engage on these critical issues and develop core leadership skills.

Program Events

Bob Bauer and Ben Ginsberg 

Ben Ginsberg, Bob Bauer and Heather Gerken seated at the front of a classroom speaking to an audience.
From left: Bob Bauer, Ben Ginsberg, and Dean Heather Gerken.

On Oct. 17, 2023, the Crossing Divides Program hosted Bob Bauer, former White House General Counsel under President Barack Obama, and Ben L. Ginsberg, former counsel to the Bush-Cheney presidential campaign. Bauer and Ginsberg reflected on their professional experiences on opposing sides of the political sphere while maintaining a true and lasting friendship.





Crossing Divides Faculty Panel

Marisol Orihuela, Douglas Nejaime and David Schleicher seated at the front of a classroom speaking to an audience.
From left: Professors Marisol Orihuela, Douglas NeJaime, and David Schleicher.

On Nov. 8, 2023, three faculty members participated in a panel discussion centered on the topic “When I Changed My Mind.” Professors Douglas NeJaime, Marisol Orihuela, and David Schleicher discussed learning and working across differences as an essential skill for law school, legal practice, and life.






Judge J. Michael Luttig and Dean Heather K. Gerken

Judge J. Michael Luttig with YLS students
Judge J. Michael Luttig with students after the event.

On Feb. 20, 2024, the Crossing Divides Program hosted Judge J. Michael Luttig, Co-Chair of the American Bar Association Task Force for American Democracy, in conversation with Dean and Sol & Lillian Goldman Professor Heather K. Gerken. Dean Gerken and Judge Luttig discussed the importance of working across ideological lines to uphold the rule of law.