Adriaan Lanni teaches Criminal Law, Criminal Adjudication, Restorative Justice, the Criminal Justice Workshop, and Ancient Law. Her research focuses on ancient law and society and modern criminal justice reform, with a focus on restorative justice. Both of Lanni’s research interests in ancient and modern law are motivated by a desire to explore what community-centered justice might look like, what its limits are, and how far our own system has moved from any genuinely democratic method of adjudication. Her books include Law and Justice in the Courts of Classical Athens (CUP 2006) and Law and Order in Ancient Athens (CUP 2016), and the edited volume A Global History of Crime in Antiquity (2023). Her publications on restorative justice include Taking Restorative Justice Seriously (Buffalo Law Review 2021). She is one of nineteen law professors who proposed a suite of reforms to democratize criminal justice in the White Paper of Democratic Criminal Justice (Northwestern Law Review 2017). Since 2018 she has served as a volunteer facilitator and case coordinator with Communities for Restorative Justice.

Before joining Harvard Law School in 2005, she was a junior fellow at the Harvard Society of Fellows and clerked for Judge Stephen Reinhardt of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and Justice Dana Fabe of the Alaska Supreme Court. She received a B.A., summa cum laude, from Yale University, an M.Phil. in Classics from Cambridge University, where she was a Marshall Scholar, a J.D. from Yale Law School, and a Ph.D. in History from the University of Michigan. She has been awarded fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, and the Loeb Classical Library Foundation.

Griswold 500

Faculty Assistant:
Vincenza Rico

Latest News

Now available: A Global History of Crime and Punishment

What constituted a crime 2,500 years ago, and how was criminal activity dealt with? How has our definition of justice evolved over time alongside developments in law, society, religion and class structures? 36 experts address these pressing questions in a six-volume reference set that spans 2,500 years of human history. Integrating perspectives from history, cultural studies, philosophy and classics, this globally-focused work traces developments in the ever-changing criminal and justice worlds against a variety of social, legal and cultural contexts.

Individual volume editors ensure the cohesion of the whole, and to make it as easy as possible to use, chapter titles are identical across each of the volumes. This gives the choice of reading about a specific period in one of the volumes, or following a theme across history by reading the relevant chapter in each of the six.

The six volumes cover: 1. Antiquity (500 BCE – 800 CE); 2. Medieval Age (800 – 1450); 3. Renaissance (1450 – 1650) ; 4. Age of Enlightenment (1650 – 1800); 5. Age of Empire (1800 – 1920); 6. Modern Age (1920 – 2000+).

See details on A Global History of Crime and Punishment

Harvard Magazine piece on restorative justice research and teaching

My teaching and research on restorative justice are discussed in a recent Harvard Magazine piece entitled “Restoring Justice: Exploring an alternative to crime and punishment

Now available in paperback: Law and Order in Ancient Athens

The paperback edition of Law and Order in Ancient Athensis now available from Cambridge University Press. Click here for a 20% discount coupon for purchase of this paperback.

Adriaan Lanni awarded a 2017 Guggenheim Fellowship
Lanni Appointed Touroff-Glueck Professor of Law

In October 2016, on the occasion of her appointment as the Touroff-Glueck Professor of Law, Professor Adriaan Lanni delivered a lecture titled, “Why Study Athenian Law? Adventures in Institutional Design.” 

Click here to watch the lecture.

Praise for Law and Order in Ancient Athens (CUP 2016)

Praise for Law and Order in Ancient Athens (CUP 2016)

“This is a groundbreaking work. Lanni provides a fascinating analysis of the complex interplay of formal and informal norms and procedures, showing how such features as the expressive function of laws can help explain why, despite the unpredictable and inconsistent judicial enforcement of statutory norms, Athenians by and large adhered to both statutory and non-statutory norms.”
Michael Gagarin, James R. Dougherty, Jr, Centennial Professor of Classics Emeritus, University of Texas

“In this masterful, deeply textured, in-the-round account of ancient Athenian law and social practice, Adriaan Lanni explores a deep mystery about ancient democracy: how did the Athenian state, with its limited coercive capacity, achieve a peaceful and productive social order? Lanni elucidates how law’s expressive function dynamically interacted with formal Athenian legal institutions, and with litigants’ strategic deployment of extra-statutory norms. As a result, we understand better than ever before how the Athenians successfully deterred socially destructive behavior, how they survived civil war, and how bold courtroom arguments can change social behavior through creatively reinterpreting the relationship between law and norm. Lanni’s outstanding legal sociology reveals anew the startling similarities and discontinuities between ancient and modern approaches to democracy and rule of law.”
Josiah Ober, Stanford University, California

“The Classical Athenian democracy, despite its relatively weak mechanisms of formal coercion, normally exhibited a remarkably high level of social order. This is a puzzling paradox that Harvard Law School professor Adriaan Lanni, building on her exemplary Law and Justice in the Courts of Classical Athens (Cambridge, 2006), decrypts and illuminates with her usual brilliance of insight and forensic skill in argument.”
Paul Cartledge, A. G. Leventis Senior Research Fellow, Clare College, Cambridge, and co-editor of KOSMOS: Essays in Order, Conflict and Community in Classical Athens (Cambridge, 2002)

“Classical Athens was a marvel. With style and insight, Lanni scours the limited sources to identify the institutions that enabled the city to flourish.”
Robert Ellickson, Yale Law School, Connecticut


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