Biden Recruits Harvard Law Faculty For Transition Team


Several Harvard Law School professors and affiliates have agreed to assist President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s transition to the White House as members of agency review teams, Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris's transition team announced Tuesday.

The teams will spend the upcoming months learning the operations of each governmental agency to ensure a smooth transition on Inauguration Day. The Biden-Harris transition team aimed to recruit “talented professionals” with experience in numerous policy areas, according to its website.

“The teams have been crafted to ensure they not only reflect the values and priorities of the incoming administration, but reflect the diversity of perspectives crucial for addressing America’s most urgent and complex challenges,” the website reads.

Law School professor Richard J. Lazarus will serve as a volunteer on the Department of Justice team. This team is also responsible for reviewing eight other agencies, including the Federal Election Commission, the Commission on Civil Rights, and the National Council on Disability.


Lazarus currently teaches courses on torts and environmental law. He has brought 40 cases before the United States Supreme Court, respresenting the United States, state and local governments, and environmental groups.

Lazarus also served as the Executive Director of the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling Commission, a group tasked with investigating the causes of the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Mark Wu ’95 — Vice Dean for the Graduate Program and International Legal Studies at the Law School — will volunteer with the team focusing on the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, the U.S. International Trade Commission, and the U.S. Trade and Development agency.

Prior to entering academia, Wu worked as an economist at the World Bank in China and as the Director for Intellectual Property in the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative. He currently serves on the Advisory Board of the World Trade Organization Chairs Programme, a body dedicated to fostering understanding of the trading system among academics and policymakers in developing countries.

Wu, who also serves as the Faculty Co-Director of the Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society, is the only faculty member to have received both the HLS Student Government Teaching and Advising Award and the Sacks-Freund Award for Teaching Excellence.

Oneida Indian Nation Visiting Professor Robert T. Anderson will volunteer with the Department of the Interior team. The team will also review seven other commissions, including the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation and the Commission on Fine Arts. Anderson has served as a visiting professor at the Law School since 2010 and a professor at the University of Washington School of Law since 2001. Previously, he served as associate solicitor for Indian Affairs in the U.S. Department of the Interior, as well as counselor to Secretary of the Interior Bruce E. Babbitt and co-lead of the Department of the Interior team during President Barack H. Obama’s transition to the White House. Anderson is also a co-author and Executive Editorial Board member of “Cohen’s Handbook of Federal Indian Law.”

Executive Director Joseph Goffman and Guest Fellow Cynthia J. Giles of HLS’s Environmental & Energy Law Program will both serve as volunteers on the Environmental Protection Agency team, which will also review the Chemical Safety Board.

Current and former Harvard spokespeople — including Jonathan L. Swain, Senior Director of Media Relations and Communications for the University — and Harvard Medical School professor Atul Gawande also joined Biden's transition team. Swain will lead the Small Business Administration team, and Gawande will serve as a member of the Transition COVID-19 Advisory Board.

— Staff writer Kelsey J. Griffin can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @kelseyjgriffin.