Paul Weiler, 1939-2021: Faculty Co-Director Emeritus of the Labor and Worklife Program

July 7, 2021
Paul Weiler headshot

With sadness, we report the death of Paul C. Weiler, the Henry J. Friendly Professor of Law, Emeritus at Harvard Law School as well as the Faculty Co-Director Emeritus of the Labor and Worklife Program (LWP) at Harvard Law School (HLS).

Paul Weiler stood as one of the preeminent figures in several fields of legal scholarship: labor law, entertainment law, and sports law, as well as in constitutional reform and labor dispute resolution in his native land of Canada. He also made significant contributions on legal remedies for medical malpractice and worker disability.

He played a special role in the transformation of the Harvard Trade Union Program (HTUP) into a broader center for the study of the world of work, the Labor and Worklife Program at Harvard Law School. Paul indeed worked with the deans at HLS to bring the LWP to the law school where the program continues to impress upon law students the importance of labor issues as well as training the next generation of labor leaders.

Paul Weiler served in numerous ways to help improve the lives of workers. Early in his career, he became Chairman of the Labour Relations Board in British Columbia during the 1970s, as he stepped up to provide solutions as the province confronted one of the biggest eras of strikes in North American history. In 1993-1994, he became Chief Counsel for the U.S. Commission on the Future of Worker-Management Relations. From 1982 to 2006, he served on the public review board of the United Auto Workers. For much of his career, he belonged to the National Academy of Arbitrators. His vision of labor reform is presented in his acclaimed work Governing the Workplace: The Future of Labor and Employment Law (Harvard University Press, 1990).

In the classroom, Paul became, in the words of HLS Dean John Manning, “a legendary teacher.” He provided students with the knowledge and encouraging boost that they too could master the fields he taught and become shapers of the legal profession. He regularly taught labor leaders in the Harvard Trade Union Program and made sure they too could feel welcome at Harvard. Labor leaders treasured that Paul wrote an entire guide to Harvard and Boston designed for newcomers to the university.

While Paul’s contributions to scholarship and public life continue to shine on, we wish to convey an appreciation for the way he maintained his determination to fight on. Despite encountering severe paralysis and a fatal diagnosis for the last two decades of his living years, he brought joy and a positive spirit to all the people in the LWP and the world of labor.

Benjamin Sachs 
Kestnbaum Professor of Labor and Industry
Harvard Law School                                                  
Richard B. Freeman
Herbert Ascherman Professor of Economics
Department of Economics
Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences




In lieu of flowers, the family encourages people to contribute to one of the two funds at Harvard Law School in honor of Paul Weiler: 1) the Paul Weiler Scholarship for JD students; or 2) the Trade Union Program scholarship in memory of Paul Weiler. Here is the link, and should you desire to contribute be sure to designate which one of these two funds you wish to select: