Harvard Corporation Senior Fellow Bill Lee Serving as Lead Trial Lawyer in Affirmative Action Lawsuit

Delano Franklin & Samuel Zwickel:

Harvard Corporation Senior Fellow William F. Lee ’72 is serving as the lead trial lawyer for an affirmative action lawsuit against the University and has recused himself from the Corporation’s discussions regarding the suit since he took on this role, Lee said in an interview Monday.

“About a year ago, I actually recused myself from any Corporation discussion of the case so that I can act as a lawyer for Harvard in the case,” Lee said.

“I literally step out of the room,” he added.

Lee has been a member of the 13-person Harvard Corporation since 2010. He is also a partner at WilmerHale, the law firm representing the University in the lawsuit.

The lawsuit in question was filed against the University in 2014 by the anti-affirmative action group Students for Fair Admissions. It alleges the College illegally discriminates against Asian Americans in its admissions process. The College has consistently denied the allegations, arguing it “does not discriminate against applicants from any group in its admissions processes.”

Acting in his capacity as the University’s lawyer, Lee penned an April 9 letter calling the Justice Department’s intervention in the lawsuit “perplexing” and “entirely unnecessary.” The Justice Department filed a briefing April 6 asking the U.S. District Court for Massachusetts to unseal previously confidential admissions documents and information.