Harvard Law School has announced the appointments of U.S. District Judge Nancy Gertner and Stephen Shay, Deputy Assistant Secretary for International Tax Affairs in the U.S. Department of the Treasury, as Professors of Practice.

The professorships of practice at Harvard Law School are given to outstanding individuals whose teaching is informed by extensive expertise from the worlds of law practice, the judiciary, policy and governance. “With the appointments of these two superbly accomplished and talented individuals, we continue to strengthen the bridge between Harvard Law School and law-in-practice. Their involvement in our community will offer our students and faculty vitally important perspectives, questions, and insights informed by deep experience in the world,” said Harvard Law School Dean Martha Minow.

Appointment of Judge Gertner

Gertner has been on the federal bench since 1994, when President Clinton appointed her to a seat on the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts. Prior to that, she had a 20-year career as a lawyer, first at Silverglate & Gertner and later at Dwyer, Collora & Gertner, and was celebrated for her work as a criminal defense attorney and civil rights activist. She was described by Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly as one of “The Most Influential Lawyers of the Past 25 Years.”

Said Minow: “Nancy Gertner’s brilliance as a legal advocate did so much to advance civil rights, criminal law, and the rule of law for two decades even before her appointment to the federal bench. As a distinguished federal judge for the past 17 years, she has brought keen intelligence, deep learning, and rigorous investigation of facts and law while also serving as an inspiring teacher and scholar. She has shared her searching questions, rich experiences, and uncanny ability to bridge theory and practice with students at Harvard Law School and elsewhere, and I could not be more delighted that she will now join our community as a Professor of Practice.”

Gertner, who will retire from the bench in September, said: “It has been a rare privilege to sit as a judge of the federal district court in Massachusetts. I have truly, truly loved being a judge and to have had the opportunity for public service it provided. I feel equally fortunate now to be offered the chance to teach at Harvard Law School following my retirement. I am looking forward to this new career and to joining friends and colleagues on the Harvard faculty.”

While serving on the federal bench, Gertner taught for more than 10 years as a visiting lecturer at Yale Law School, focusing on American sentencing and comparative sentencing law.  She was the Charles R. Merriam Distinguished Professor at Arizona State Law School in 2002, and gave the Justice Harry A. Blackmun Lecture at Moritz College of Law of Ohio State University in 2007. When she was in private practice, she taught at Boston University Law School, Boston College Law School and the Harvard Law School on such subjects as employment discrimination, the jury system and evidence.

Gertner has lectured both nationally and internationally, most recently at the Monash Law School International Study Program in Prato, Italy and Central European University in Budapest. She has served on the faculty of the American Bar Association – Central European and Eurasian Law Initiative, and is currently a member of its advisory board. Gertner also has participated in numerous educational and reform initiatives in the former Soviet Union, Turkey, Israel, China, Cambodia and Liberia.

In 2008, Gertner became the second woman—after Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg—to receive the Thurgood Marshall Award from the American Bar Association, Section of Individual Rights and Responsibilities, for both her career as a lawyer and as a judge.  She holds honorary degrees from Colby College, Northeastern University, Suffolk University and Southern New England Law School, and has received awards for distinguished service, including those from the Massachusetts Bar Foundation, the Women’s Bar Association, Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly and the Massachusetts Association of Women Lawyers.

Gertner will share her experiences as a trial lawyer in her upcoming memoir, “In Defense of Women: Memoirs of an Unrepentant Advocate,” to be released on April 26, 2011. Her book, “The Law of Juries,” co-authored with attorney Judith Mizner, was published in 1997 and updated in 2010. She also has published numbers of articles and book chapters on sentencing, discrimination law, forensic evidence, women’s rights and the jury system.

Gertner is a 1967 graduate of Barnard College, and she completed her J.D. from Yale Law School and her M.A. in political science from Yale University, both in 1971. After law school she clerked for Chief Judge Luther M. Swygert of the Seventh Circuit.

Appointment of Stephen Shay

Shay, a longtime practitioner of tax law, is currently Deputy Assistant Secretary for International Tax Affairs in the U.S. Department of the Treasury. At HLS he will teach basic, international and other taxation courses.

Said Minow: “Our students and faculty will benefit enormously from Steve Shay’s extraordinary expertise and 35 years of practice in tax law and policy. We are beyond fortunate that he has decided to bring his talents and experience to Harvard. He possesses a terrific combination of skills and wisdom, a treasury of knowledge of domestic and international tax law and policy, a profound understanding of government and the budgeting process, wide experiences in counseling individual and multinational corporate clients, and a superb record of written scholarship. He will bring great knowledge and ideas to our students and to his new colleagues on our faculty.”

Shay said:  “I am honored to join the Law School’s distinguished faculty as a Professor of Practice. I look forward to teaching and sharing my public policy and practice experience with the Law School’s extraordinary students.”

Since joining the Treasury Department in 2009, Shay has worked to develop and oversee implementation of U.S. international tax policy. He played a significant role in the development of proposals for the FY 2011 budget, was instrumental in structuring foreign account information reporting provisions passed as part of the 2010 HIRE Act, and helped develop international tax anti-abuse proposals that were passed as part of the 2010 Education Jobs and Medicaid Assistance Act.

Shay also has served as the United States delegate to the Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes.

Previously a partner for 22 years at Ropes & Gray, LLP, Shay has extensive tax counseling and controversy experience advising multinational companies, private equity funds, financial institutions, global institutional investors and foreign governments on cross-border taxation matters and transfer pricing.

While in private practice, Shay regularly published scholarly and practice articles relating to international taxation, and testified for law reform before Congressional tax-writing committees.

Prior to joining Ropes & Gray in 1987, Shay spent five years as International Tax Counsel at the Treasury Department.

Shay has been active in the American Bar Association Tax Section as a council director and chair of the Committee on Foreign Activities of U.S. Taxpayers; the American Law Institute as an associate reporter; the American Tax Policy Institute as a member of the Board of Trustees; the New York State Bar Association Tax Section; and the International Bar Association Taxes Committee.

He was recognized as a leading practitioner in Chambers Global’s “The World’s Leading Lawyers,” Chambers USA’s “America’s Leading Lawyers,” “The Best Lawyers in America,” Euromoney’s “Guide to The World’s Leading Tax Advisers” and Euromoney’s “Guide to The Best of the Best.”

Shay is a 1972 graduate of Wesleyan University, and he earned his J.D. and his M.B.A. from Columbia University in 1976.