A Message from Dean Gerken on Joint Law Deans’ Statement


Dean Heather K. Gerken sent an email to the Yale Law School community on January 12, 2021.

To the Members of the Community,

Over the past week, I spoke with deans across the country reflecting on the tragic events at the Capitol and our role as legal educators in restoring trust and faith in the rule of law and our democratic institutions. Today, I was proud to join more than 150 other law deans in an extraordinarily rare joint statement on the 2020 election and the events leading to the attack on the Capitol last week. The deans’ statement notes that “we recognize with dismay and sorrow that some lawyers challenged the outcome of the election with claims that they did not support with facts or evidence. This betrayed the values of our profession.”

I am deeply distressed by the grave concerns raised about the role of lawyers in recent events, including some who have graduated from the Law School. It is not my role as dean to comment on individual proceedings against specific graduates, but I support efforts to hold accountable any lawyer — from any law school — who fails to uphold the duties of our profession. As a scholar who has spent her entire career studying democracy, I am appalled by any lawyer who attacks the legitimacy of a free and fair election without facts or evidence, who deliberately misleads the public about our democratic processes, or who disregards the risk or reality of violence. And as a professor who has cherished the opportunity to teach a generation of Yale Law graduates, I am deeply saddened whenever any graduate falls short of the high expectations of this profession or this Law School.

This is a sobering moment for our democracy, our profession, and our law school. I stand with the students, faculty, and graduates of this school who will work to repair the damage that has been done to our democracy and train a future generation of lawyers who will maintain the honor of this profession. 


Heather K. Gerken