Legal Eagle: Apsara Iyer Becomes First Indian American President of Harvard Law Review
- The 29-year-old worked at Manhattan District Attorney's Office’s Antiquities Trafficking Unit, where she has been involved in helping investigate art crime and repatriate more than 1,100 stolen works of art to 15 countries.
The Harvard Law Review has elected Apsara Iyer as its 137th president, succeeding Priscila Coronado. She becomes the first Indian American woman to head the prestigious publication in its 136-year history.
It is considered the highest achievement for a Harvard Law School student. Becoming Harvard Law Review’s first Black president marked the beginning of the meteoric rise of 28-year-old Barack Obama.
Now, the 29-year-old Iyer makes history as the first Indian American to be elected to that position. She specializes in investigating art and antiquities theft. She has “carried out much of that work to date at the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office’s Antiquities Trafficking Unit (ATU), where she has been involved in helping investigate art crime and repatriate more than 1,100 stolen works of art to 15 countries,” as reported by Reuters.
“I think the law is a really good way of addressing a problem that’s now gaining growing importance,” she told the news agency. “There’s a direct link between destruction of art or the theft of art and other issues that we recognize as being of a policy importance.”
Law reviews are staffed by U.S. law schools’ top students, who are often recruited for judicial clerkships and other prestigious jobs in the profession.” Founded in 1887 by future Supreme Court Justice Louis D. Brandeis, LL.B. 1887, the Harvard Law Journal is an entirely student-edited journal with the largest circulation of any law journal in the world. It is published monthly from November through June.
Iyer graduated from Yale in 2016 with a B.A. in Economics & Math and Spanish, according to a Harvard press release announcing her appointment. Her dedication to archaeology and indigenous communities led her to pursue an MPhil at Oxford as a Clarendon Scholar.
She enrolled at Harvard Law School in the fall of 2020. A Chayes International Public Service Fellow, she has worked to co-author a chapter in a new casebook on cultural heritage and law with Transform, a Maastricht-based research initiative. She took a leave of absence from the school in 2021–22 to return to the DA’s Office, where she worked on an international antiquities trafficking investigation and rose to be the deputy of the ATU. At Harvard, she is a student in the International Human Rights Clinic and a member of the South Asian Law Students Association.
In a statement announcing her appointment, Iyer praised her predecessor’s leadership, calling it “a model for all of us.” Since joining the Law Review, she said she has been “inspired by her skillful management, compassion, and capacity to build vibrant, inclusive communities. I am so grateful that we—Volume 137—inherit her legacy, and I am honored to continue building on this important work over the next year.”