A conversation with Jay Hebert ’86
New direction for connection
Why have you made such a strong personal commitment to Harvard Law School?
HLS is not something that you leave after three years. It’s a community from which you benefit richly your entire life. My hope is that I can, in some small way, help some others realize this, and help them to reconnect with the school.
I enjoy helping to remind people why they love Harvard Law School. It’s sometimes easy to forget, with the press of business and daily commitments. But get three HLS people in a room and give them something interesting to discuss, and they will remember. We were blessed to attend a school with remarkable people, both faculty and students. Bringing them together is always an enjoyable experience.
Were there any particular courses or professors who influenced the direction you took after law school?
I was blessed to get to know and become friends with several professors, particularly Andrew Kaufman, Arthur Miller and Martin Ginsburg, who was visiting. While their classes did not necessarily lead me to become a corporate M&A lawyer, they did teach me more than I can tell you about being a lawyer and a true professional. I also loved Professor [Phillip] Areeda’s antitrust class. He was a remarkable teacher.
What do you like to do when you’re not practicing law or actively working on behalf of HLS?
My family takes the vast majority of my free hours. The remainder are spent reading, particularly history, serving on a few community service boards and trying— I emphasize trying— to learn how to play golf.
What are your priorities as head of the Harvard Law School Association?
Professor [David] Rosenberg taught us in Fed Lit to have a core theory. Mine, as you can tell, is to bring HLS alumni together in whatever way enables them to rekindle their love for HLS. We will be hosting our next Worldwide Alumni Congress in Washington, D.C., from June 14 to 17, 2007. This will obviously dominate my agenda for the next several months. We will also be looking for ways to assist our local associations in reaching out to alumni.
Will you be looking for new ways to bring the school and its alumni closer together?
I think the Harvard Law School Association already does a marvelous job reconnecting the school and its alums. Donna Chiozzi and her staff are remarkable. We are working on ways to use the Internet to make communication easier and, frankly, less expensive. We are also striving to take HLS on the road— through our Worldwide Alumni Congress and regional reunions. Our alumni are scattered throughout the world. Finding ways to bring them together is first and foremost our mission.
Jay Hebert ’ 86 is president of the Harvard Law School Association. He chairs the communications practice group of the law firm of Vinson & Elkins, and he’s a partner in the firm’s business and international group. His practice focuses on business transactions, mergers and acquisitions, and federal securities laws, with particular emphasis on the telecommunications industry. He has counseled clients on a wide variety of corporate reorganization matters, including taxable and tax-free mergers, acquisitions and bankruptcy reorganization issues, and public and private offerings of debt and equity securities.
Hebert graduated from Rice University in 1983 and then received his J.D. from HLS. He was a law clerk to the Hon. Patrick E. Higginbotham, U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit. He was first admitted to practice in Texas, where he became a partner at Hughes & Luce. He joined Vinson & Elkins in 1996, and moved to Washington, D.C., in 2001 to serve as co-managing partner of V&E’s office there.