Justice Brennan’s Correspondences with Erwin Griswold: Part I

March 14th, 2018

Justice Brennan’s recently-opened correspondence folders includes a number of exchanges with Harvard Law School Dean Erwin Griswold over the course of nearly two decades.

First, here is a letter from 1966 inviting Justice Brennan to celebrate Harvard’s 150th anniversary. They offered a $1,000 honorarium ($7680.61 in 2017 dollars).

Second, Dean Griswold sent all HLS alumni (including Brennan) a questionnaire about the law school. Brennan, apparently, filled out the survey, but did not mail it in!

Here is the survey, with brutally honest answers: 

Apparently, Brennan was a “B” student (70-74 grades).

Present position: Associate Justice, Supreme Court of the United States.

Question 24 asks “Do you remember Harvard Law School with?” Brennan checked “Respect” and “Appreciation.” But not “affection” or “pride.”

Question 25 asks, “What was your emotional feeling about Harvard Law school as a student?” Brennan answered, “I liked it, but my feelings were not strong.”  ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Question 26 asked to rank the contribution of each of the following aspects of his legal education. What provided “no contributions”? Large classes, Ames (the moot court competition), Williston (the drafting competition), Association with faculty outside class, and, student organizations.

Question 27 asked “From what you know of the present curriculum, how well do you feel that Harvard Law School is fulfilling its responsibilities as a leading law school by preparing its students to understand and handle current legal problems.” Brennan checked, “Not well.”

He added that HLS should, “add more new and elective courses,” “add forms of training other than course work,” and “approach should be more disciplinary.”

And during the Court’s term, Brennan would work between 51 and 55 hours per week.