Campus & Community

Law professor Clark Byse honored for 60 years of service

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Harvard Law School Byrne Professor of Administrative Law Emeritus Clark Byse will receive the Harvard Law School Association (HLSA) Award in honor of his 60-year teaching career. Law School Dean Robert Clark and HLSA President-elect Robert Shapiro presented the award to Byse during ceremonies on Wednesday, June 7, at 12:00 p.m., at Jarvis Field, 14 Everett Street, Cambridge.

Byse is considered by many to be the inspiration for John Houseman’s character Charles Kingsfield in the movie The Paper Chase. Byse is also known to movie viewers for his cameo role in the Robert Redford—directed movie Quiz Show, which concerned the television quiz show scandals of the 1950s. That 1994 appearance led to Byse rekindling a long-lost romance, which resulted in marriage in 1997.

Byse is known to generations of law students as a teacher of Contracts and Administrative Law. He began his teaching career 60 years ago as an instructor and assistant professor at the University of Iowa, where he taught Constitutional Law, Equity, and Administrative Law. After serving in the United States Navy and as an attorney with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) during World War II, Byse became an assistant professor at the University of Pennsylvania Law School in 1946. Byse joined the Harvard Law School faculty in 1957 as a visiting professor. He was appointed professor in 1958, Bussey Professor of Law in 1970, and Byrne Professor of Administrative Law in 1976. He became professor emeritus in 1983 and that year began teaching at Boston University Law School.

Byse received the B.Ed. from State Teachers College in Wisconsin in 1935, the LL.B. from the University of Wisconsin in 1938, and the LL.M. in 1939 and the S.J.D. in 1952 from Columbia University.

To mark Byse’s six decades of legal instruction, Harvard Law School’s Graduate Program last fall established six S.J.D. fellowships named in his honor. The Byse Fellowships help fund the dissertation work of students who have completed their oral examinations towards their doctorate in juridical science degree.

Earlier this year Byse received the Distinguished Columbian in Teaching Award from Columbia Law School, and the Silver Shingle Award from Boston University’s School of Law.

The HLSA Award, the highest honor given by the Association, recognizes sustained or extraordinary service to the legal profession and Harvard Law School, as well as contributions to the public welfare that exemplify the values of Harvard Law School.

Previous HLSA Award recipients include HLS Professor Emeritus and former Watergate Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox, former President of the Republic of Ireland Mary Robinson, the late HLS Professor Emeritus Abram Chayes, and the late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun.