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Harvard University Legal Team Strengthened for Congressional Probes | World News – Times of India

Harvard University’s legal bills are mounting.
The embattled school has added King & Spalding to its legal team for two probes by the House Education and the Workforce Committee, said people familiar with the matter. The lawmakers are investigating antisemitism on campus as well as the university’s handling of plagiarism allegations against Claudine Gay, who stepped down as Harvard president on Jan.2.
The university is turning to King & Spalding’s congressional investigations team to work with WilmerHale, which provided earlier advice in some of the matters now under scrutiny by the committee. The probes have added to the controversy swirling around Harvard, which has been embroiled in its biggest crisis in decades in the wake of Hamas’s attack on Israel on October 7.
Gay drew sharp criticism from donors and alumni after she was initially slow in condemning student groups that blamed Israel solely for the violence, and not Hamas, which is designated a terrorist group by the US and European Union. Tensions on campus intensified amid protests against the Jewish state’s subsequent invasion of Gaza, in which more than 25,000 people have been killed. Harvard has struggled to ease the pressure even after Gay resigned.
Harvard and the law firms declined to comment.
WilmerHale took the lead in preparing Gay for what turned into a highly damaging appearance before the education and workforce committee on December 5. Gay’s exit came less than a month after the hearing, at which she and her counterparts from the University of Pennsylvania and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology gave widely derided testimony in which they failed to condemn calls for genocide against Jews as a violation of university policy.
Penn President Liz Magill, who was also advised by WilmerHale ahead of the hearing, stepped down last month. The firm is representing Penn in a separate inquiry by the House Ways and Means Committee, according to a school spokesperson. In that probe, the committee is looking at whether failures to condemn antisemitism could affect the tax-exempt status of Penn, Harvard, MIT and Cornell University.
Harvard turned in documents to Congress last week related to the education committee’s inquiry about how the university handled allegations of plagiarism against Gay. According to a summary of Harvard’s review process, the law firm Clare Locke was also brought in to work on the accusations last year.
Billionaire investor Bill Ackman, who led a campaign on social media to oust Gay, and Elise Stefanik, a Republican congresswoman from New York, were particularly critical of Harvard for trying to prevent publication of reports on the plagiarism allegations.
Separately, Harvard and more than two dozen other schools are being probed by the US Education Department for any discrimination tied to antisemitism and Islamophobia. In addition, Harvard is facing a federal lawsuit from students who sued this month over “rampant” antisemitism.
William Lee, a prominent lawyer at WilmerHale and a former chair of Harvard Corp, the school’s top governing council, played a key role in advising Gay, the Harvard Crimson reported last month. Lee was also lead trial counsel for Harvard in a case challenging its admissions policies as discriminatory. The case went to the Supreme Court, which ruled against Harvard in June.
The school previously told the Crimson that the firm “does not charge Harvard for his time, nor does he receive any payment for revenue based on the firm’s billing to Harvard as part of the case.”
Harvard spent more than $106 million in fees for legal services for non-employees during the last five years for which information is available, according to tax filings. The latest public filing is for the fiscal year ended June 2022, a year before the Supreme Court ruled against Harvard in the affirmative action lawsuit.
The Cambridge, Massachusetts-based university announced in November that its general counsel, Diane Lopez, would retire at the end of February after 30 years of service.



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