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David B. Wilkins

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Information about David B. Wilkins

Profile image of David B. Wilkins

Profession

Category:
LawMakers
EducationMakers
Occupation(s):
Lawyer
Law Professor

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Blue
Favorite Food:
Macaroni and Cheese
Favorite Time of Year:
Fall
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Paris, France
Favorite Quote:
Just Do It.

Birthplace

Born:
1/22/1956
Birth Location:
Chicago, Illinois

Profession

Category:
LawMakers
EducationMakers
Occupation(s):
Lawyer
Law Professor

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Blue
Favorite Food:
Macaroni and Cheese
Favorite Time of Year:
Fall
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Paris, France
Favorite Quote:
Just Do It.

Birthplace

Born:
1/22/1956
Birth Location:
Chicago
See how David B. Wilkins is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Legal scholar and law professor David B. Wilkins was born on January 22, 1956 in Chicago, Illinois. His father, attorney Julian Wilkins, became the first black partner at a major law firm in Chicago in 1971. Wilkins graduated from the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools in 1973. He received his A.B. degree in government with honors in 1977 from Harvard College and his J.D. degree with honors in 1980 from Harvard Law School. While in law school, Wilkins was a member of the Harvard Civil Rights Civil Liberties Law Review, the Harvard Law Review, and the Harvard Black Law Students Association.

Upon graduation, Wilkins served as a law clerk to Chief Judge Wilfred Feinberg of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. Wilkins then clerked for United States Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall from 1981 to 1982. In 1982, Wilkins worked as an associate specializing in civil litigation at the law firm of Nussbaum, Owen & Webster in Washington, D.C. He then joined the faculty of Harvard Law School in 1986 as an assistant professor. Wilkins was appointed as Director of the Program on the Legal Profession in 1991 and received tenure in 1992, making him the school’s fourth African American tenured professor and the sixth in the history of the school. He served as the Kirkland and Ellis Professor of Law from 1996 until 2008, when he became the Lester Kissel Professor of Law. In 2009, Wilkins was appointed as Vice Dean for Global Initiatives on the Legal Profession and Faculty Director of the Program on the Legal Profession at Harvard Law School.

As a legal scholar, Wilkins authored over sixty articles on the legal profession, and co-authored, along with Andrew Kaufman, Problems in Professional Responsibility for a Changing Profession. In addition, Wilkins served as a Senior Research Fellow of the American Bar Foundation and a member of the Faculty Committee of the Harvard University Edmond J. Safra Foundation Center for Ethics. Wilkins has also lectured on various issues in legal studies internationally as well as in the United States. Harvard Law School honored Wilkins with the Albert M. Sachs – Paul Freund Award for Teaching Excellence in 1998 and the J. Clay Smith Award in 2009. He received the Order of the Coif Distinguished Visitor Fellowship in 2008 and was honored as the American Bar Foundation Scholar of the Year Award in 2010. In 2012, Professor Wilkins was elected as a Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 2012, Wilkins was honored with an Honorary Doctorate of Laws degree from Stockholm University in Stockholm, Sweden, the Distinguished Visiting Mentor Award from Australia National University, and the Genest Fellowship from Osgoode Hall Law School.

Wilkins and his wife, Ann Marie WIlkins, live in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

David B. Wilkins was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on April 29, 2013.

See how David B. Wilkins is related to other HistoryMakers
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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of David B. Wilkins' interview, session 1
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - David B. Wilkins lists his favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - David B. Wilkins describes his mother's family background, pt. 1
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - David B. Wilkins talks about his sister's research on their family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - David B. Wilkins recalls his family's connection to the United Methodist Church
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - David B. Wilkins describes his mother's family background, pt. 2
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - David B. Wilkins describes his father's family background, pt. 1
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - David B. Wilkins talks about his paternal uncle, J. Ernest Wilkins, Jr.
  • Tape: 1 Story: 9 - David B. Wilkins describes his father's family background, pt. 2
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - David B. Wilkins talks about his father's education and U.S. military service
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - David B. Wilkins recalls how his parents met
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - David B. Wilkins describes his paternal family's legacy at the Harvard Law School in Cambridge, Massachusetts
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - David B. Wilkins remembers his paternal grandfather's tenure in the U.S. government
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - David B. Wilkins talks about the founding of Seaway National Bank in Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - David B. Wilkins describes his earliest childhood memory
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - David B. Wilkins talks about his father's transition to Jenner and Block in Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - David B. Wilkins describes his father's tenure at Jenner and Block, pt. 1
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - David B. Wilkins describes his father's tenure at Jenner and Block, pt. 2
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - David B. Wilkins talks about the creation of Lafontant, Wilkins and Fisher in Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - David B. Wilkins remembers his father's death
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - David B. Wilkins describes his father's personality
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - David B. Wilkins recalls a family trip to South America
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - David B. Wilkins remembers his mother
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - David B. Wilkins recalls graduating from Harvard Law School in Cambridge, Massachusetts
  • Tape: 3 Story: 8 - David B. Wilkins talks about his father's and paternal uncle's legal careers
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - David B. Wilkins describes his siblings
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - David B. Wilkins talks about his brothers' international travels
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - David B. Wilkins recalls his childhood on the South Side of Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - David B. Wilkins remembers moving to Chicago's Hyde Park neighborhood
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - David B. Wilkins describes the racial demographics of the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - David B. Wilkins remembers his classmates at the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools
  • Tape: 4 Story: 7 - David B. Wilkins talks about his friendship with Arne Duncan
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - David B. Wilkins describes his family's relationship with the Bowman family
  • Tape: 5 Story: 2 - David B. Wilkins recalls his interest in debate at the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools
  • Tape: 5 Story: 3 - David B. Wilkins talks about the environment of the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools, pt. 1
  • Tape: 5 Story: 4 - David B. Wilkins talks about the environment of the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools, pt. 2
  • Tape: 5 Story: 5 - David B. Wilkins remembers his high school debate coach, Earl Bell
  • Tape: 5 Story: 6 - David B. Wilkins describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood
  • Tape: 5 Story: 7 - David B. Wilkins recalls the gang activity on the South Side of Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 5 Story: 8 - David B. Wilkins remembers the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 6 Story: 1 - David B. Wilkins talks about the segregation of Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 6 Story: 2 - David B. Wilkins describes his father's political affiliations
  • Tape: 6 Story: 3 - David B. Wilkins talks about his paternal family's prominence
  • Tape: 6 Story: 4 - David B. Wilkins describes his decision to attend Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts
  • Tape: 6 Story: 5 - David B. Wilkins recalls the political climate of the early 1970s
  • Tape: 6 Story: 6 - David B. Wilkins remembers the African American community in Cambridge, Massachusetts
  • Tape: 6 Story: 7 - David B. Wilkins describes the founding of the Black Students Association at Harvard University
  • Tape: 6 Story: 8 - David B. Wilkins remembers the African American faculty members at Harvard University, pt. 1
  • Tape: 6 Story: 9 - David B. Wilkins remembers the African American faculty members at Harvard University, pt. 2
  • Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Slating of David B. Wilkins' interview, session 2
  • Tape: 7 Story: 2 - David B. Wilkins talks about his father's experiences at the Harvard Law School, pt. 1
  • Tape: 7 Story: 3 - David B. Wilkins talks about his father's experiences at the Harvard Law School, pt. 2
  • Tape: 7 Story: 4 - David B. Wilkins describes his father's influence on his career
  • Tape: 7 Story: 5 - David B. Wilkins remembers the African American community at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts
  • Tape: 7 Story: 6 - David B. Wilkins recalls his classmates at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts
  • Tape: 7 Story: 7 - David B. Wilkins remembers meeting Al Haymon at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts
  • Tape: 7 Story: 8 - David B. Wilkins talks about the increase of African American students at Harvard University
  • Tape: 8 Story: 1 - David B. Wilkins talks about the Black Students Association at Harvard University
  • Tape: 8 Story: 2 - David B. Wilkins describes his involvement in theater and radio at Harvard University
  • Tape: 8 Story: 3 - David B. Wilkins talks about his experiences of racial discrimination in Boston, Massachusetts
  • Tape: 8 Story: 4 - David B. Wilkins remembers Anthony R. Chase and his wife at Harvard University
  • Tape: 8 Story: 5 - David B. Wilkins describes his summer position at the Commonwealth Edison Company
  • Tape: 8 Story: 6 - David B. Wilkins recalls his decision to attend Harvard Law School in Cambridge, Massachusetts
  • Tape: 8 Story: 7 - David B. Wilkins remembers his professors at Harvard Law School in Cambridge, Massachusetts
  • Tape: 8 Story: 8 - David B. Wilkins recalls meeting his wife, Ann Marie Wilkins
  • Tape: 9 Story: 1 - David B. Wilkins talks about his father's decision to leave Jenner and Block in Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 9 Story: 2 - David B. Wilkins recalls joining the Harvard Law Review
  • Tape: 9 Story: 3 - David B. Wilkins describes his experiences clerking at Kirkland and Ellis, LLP in Chicago, Illinois, pt. 1
  • Tape: 9 Story: 4 - David B. Wilkins describes his experiences clerking at Kirkland and Ellis, LLP in Chicago, Illinois, pt. 2
  • Tape: 9 Story: 5 - David B. Wilkins talks about the emergence of critical legal studies at Harvard Law School
  • Tape: 9 Story: 6 - David B. Wilkins talks about his clerkships
  • Tape: 9 Story: 7 - David B. Wilkins describes his experiences on the Harvard Law Review
  • Tape: 9 Story: 8 - David B. Wilkins remembers working with Harold Hongju Koh at the Harvard Law Review
  • Tape: 10 Story: 1 - David B. Wilkins remembers his colleagues at the Harvard Law Review
  • Tape: 10 Story: 2 - David B. Wilkins talks about his paternal uncle's thoughts on his career
  • Tape: 10 Story: 3 - David B. Wilkins describes his clerkship for Justice Wilfred Feinberg
  • Tape: 10 Story: 4 - David B. Wilkins remembers clerking in the U.S. Supreme Court for Thurgood Marshall, pt. 1
  • Tape: 10 Story: 5 - David B. Wilkins remembers clerking in the U.S. Supreme Court for Thurgood Marshall, pt. 2
  • Tape: 10 Story: 6 - David B. Wilkins describes his position at Nussbaum, Owen and Webster in New York City
  • Tape: 10 Story: 7 - David B. Wilkins remembers his Harvard Law School professor, Clarence Clyde Ferguson, Jr.
  • Tape: 11 Story: 1 - David B. Wilkins remembers being approached to teach at Harvard Law School in Cambridge, Massachusetts
  • Tape: 11 Story: 2 - David B. Wilkins recalls the controversy surrounding Jack Greenberg's course at Harvard Law School
  • Tape: 11 Story: 3 - David B. Wilkins remembers his interview at Harvard Law School in Cambridge, Massachusetts
  • Tape: 11 Story: 4 - David B. Wilkins talks about the different levels of professorship at the Harvard Law School
  • Tape: 11 Story: 5 - David B. Wilkins recalls the first African American professors at Harvard Law School
  • Tape: 11 Story: 6 - David B. Wilkins describes his initial faculty presentation at Harvard Law School
  • Tape: 11 Story: 7 - David B. Wilkins recalls his first year of teaching at Harvard Law School
  • Tape: 12 Story: 1 - David B. Wilkins talks about the first class he taught at Harvard Law School in Cambridge, Massachusetts
  • Tape: 12 Story: 2 - David B. Wilkins describes his position as a graduate assistant at Harvard Law School
  • Tape: 12 Story: 3 - David B. Wilkins remembers his transition to teaching at Harvard Law School
  • Tape: 12 Story: 4 - David B. Wilkins talks about Charles Ogletree's career at Harvard Law School
  • Tape: 12 Story: 5 - David B. Wilkins talks about the faculty and students of Harvard Law School
  • Tape: 12 Story: 6 - David B. Wilkins remembers Derrick A. Bell, Jr.