Nikolas Bowie, constitutional law and legal history scholar, named professor of law at Harvard

Man in a black sweater standing in front of a tree.

Credit: Lorin Granger

Nikolas Bowie ’14, a scholar of constitutional law, local government law, and legal history, is being promoted to professor of law at Harvard Law School, effective July 1.

Bowie joined the Harvard Law faculty as an assistant professor in 2018. He was previously the Reginald Lewis Law Teaching Fellow at Harvard, while completing a Ph.D. in history at Harvard University.

“Niko Bowie brings creativity and brilliance to developing new and compelling ways of understanding constitutional law and legal history,” said John F. Manning ’85, the Morgan and Helen Chu Dean and Professor of Law at Harvard Law School. “Professor Bowie is also an inspiring and dedicated teacher and a generous colleague whose energy and love of ideas have added so much to the Harvard Law School community.”

A historian who teaches courses in federal constitutional law, state constitutional law, and local government law, Bowie’s research focuses on critical legal histories of democracy in the United States.

“The workers and students of Harvard Law School have an incredibly important responsibility to help establish justice in the world around us,” said Bowie. “I am honored to have the confidence of the faculty that I will do my part.”

A popular teacher and influential mentor, Bowie was the winner of the 2021 Sacks-Freund Award for Teaching Excellence. In his speech, Bowie challenged the graduating students to form their personal theory of change as a guideline for their careers and reflected on lessons he learned from his mother, acclaimed legal scholar and the late emerita Harvard Law Professor Lani Guinier.

In 2022 and 2021, Bowie was selected by the graduating student class marshals to deliver a Last Lecture to the graduating class.

His scholarship has appeared in the Harvard Law Review, the Law and History Review, the Stanford Law Review, the Virginia Law Review, and the Yale Law Journal. Another article, “The Separation-of-Powers Counterrevolution,” written with Harvard Law Professor Daphna Renan, is forthcoming in the Yale Law Journal. He has also written essays for the New York Times, the Washington Post, Slate, and other publications.

In addition to teaching and writing, Professor Bowie litigates criminal and civil appeals. He is on the boards of the ACLU of Massachusetts, Lawyers for Civil Rights, MassVote, and People’s Parity Project. Bowie also served on the postconviction and appellate panel of the Committee for Public Counsel Services, the public defender agency of Massachusetts.

Bowie graduated in 2009 from Yale University, where he won the John A. Porter Prize for best senior thesis in American history. At Harvard, he earned an A.M. in history in 2011, a J.D. in 2014, and a Ph.D. in history in 2018.

At Harvard Law School, Bowie served as an editor of the Harvard Law Review. He was also an oralist on the winning team in the Ames Moot Court Competition. In 2017, he held the Berger-Howe Legal History Fellowship at Harvard Law School.

Bowie’s Ph.D. dissertation, “Corporate America: A History of Corporate Statehood Since 1629,” examined the relationship between corporations and constitutions from the seventeenth-century Massachusetts Bay Company to the present. The central theme was how Americans have understood corporations as forms of government that require democratic methods of political accountability.

After graduating from Harvard Law, Bowie clerked for Justice Sonia Sotomayor on the Supreme Court of the United States and for Judge Jeffrey Sutton on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.

Nikolas Bowie, constitutional law and legal history scholar, named professor of law at Harvard