Last year, in advance of the bicentennial, we invited students, staff and faculty to reflect on who we are and what we believe in as a school community. With a focus on vocation-building, we asked three questions: (1) As we look to the past, who should we admire? (2) As we look to the future, what challenges are important? (3) As we look at the present, what are we being called to do?
We received dozens of submissions of: first, Harvard Law alumni, living and historic, with important legal vocations; second, important public challenges that merit the attention of our generation of lawyers; and third, exciting vocational goals of current Harvard Law students. To spur our collective reflection on who we are and where we want to go as a vocational community, below are submissions in response to the first question, “Which alumni had inspiring careers?”:
Inspiring Career #1: Cornelius Hedges (Class of 1856) became the intellectual father of Yellowstone National Park
(submitted by Shaun Goho, Clinical Instructor, Environmental Law and Policy Clinic)
Hedges, a 1856 graduate of HLS, moved to the then-territory of Montana in 1864, where he would live until his death more than 40 years later. There, he held a variety of public offices, including U.S. District Attorney for Montana Territory; territorial superintendent of public schools; member of the 1884 Constitutional Convention; and State Senator from 1889-1893.
In 1870, Hedges was part of the Washburn Expedition that explored the Yellowstone region. Near the end of the journey, the participants sat around the campfire and discussed Yellowstone’s future. Many of them said that they planned to file land claims, intending to profit from the anticipated influx of tourists eager to see the region’s natural wonders. Hedges, however, suggested that Yellowstone “ought to be set apart as a great National Park.” In the following years, he actively campaigned for the creation of the park. In 1872, Congress enacted and President Grant signed into law the statute establishing Yellowstone National Park—the first of its kind in the world.
“Thoughtful, kind, charitable, ever ready to heed the call of the unfortunate, without selfishness or guile, no better man has ever lived in Montana, nor to any is there a higher mead of praise for what he did and gave to Montana.”
Inspiring Career #2: Lam Nguyen Ho (Class of 2008) is setting a standard for community activism lawyering in Chicago.
(Submitted by Tess Heligren ’18)
After graduating from HLS in 2008, Ho moved to Chicago where he set up free community-based legal clinics. In 2014, with support from HLS’s Public Service Venture Fund, Ho founded the Community Activism Law Alliance (CALA).Under Ho’s leadership, CALA sets an innovative example of community activism lawyering by working with local activists to help advance social justice for undocumented immigrants, sex workers, day laborers, and other underserved populations.
Under Ho’s leadership, CALA sets an innovative example of community activism lawyering by working with local activists to help advance social justice for undocumented immigrants, sex workers, day laborers, and other underserved populations.
“My background (immigrant, poverty, domestic violence, queerness) exposed me to the dehumanizing consequences when our justice system fails. It instilled a sense of responsibility to help others struggle against similar, and harder, challenges.” Continue reading “The HLS 300 Project: Inspiring Careers”