An Interview with Dean Minow

Two weeks ago, The Record interviewed Dean Martha Minow for her thoughts on the Law School, women in the profession, and the Cubs. We were initially informed by the communications office that they objected to our publication of the interview, and we met with them and Dean of Students Marcia Sells last week to discuss the issue. Following that meeting, the communications office withdrew their objections. We are pleased to present our interview with Dean Minow, condensed and edited for clarity.

The Record: This is the first year in Harvard Law School’s history in which the entering JD class was more than 50% women. How did that end up happening and what do you make of it?

Dean Minow: We’ve made a lot of outreach efforts, and I’m happy with the results. These things do change from year to year though: last year’s LLM class was majority women, but this year it’s majority men.

Continue reading “An Interview with Dean Minow” A First Step Towards Re-Orienting Our Culture

You can tell a lot about the culture of a community by asking three questions:

  1. As the community looks to the past, whom does the community admire?
  2. As the community  looks toward the future, what challenges are deemed important?
  3. As the community looks at the present, which activities are worthwhile to the community?

What can we learn about ourselves, then, by asking these questions about Harvard Law School? Continue reading “ A First Step Towards Re-Orienting Our Culture”

The Role of Students is to Amplify the HUDS Struggle

The first fifteen days of the HUDS strike have seen incredible and overwhelming student solidarity with the striking workers. Student organizations have published numerous statements in support of the HUDS struggle. They have held a series of mealtime conversations and an outdoor dine-in at Harvard Yard, during which workers and students shared a meal and discussed the strike. They have also raised money to provide food to the striking workers, and directly reinforced the workers’ picket lines with their bodies. At the time of publication, nearly 3,000 Harvard students have pledged their support for HUDS through the Student Labor Action Movement petition. Just last week, the Law School Student Council voted in favor of a resolution endorsing the HUDS strike and calling on the administration to meet the workers’ demands as soon as possible. This recent resolution follows in the wake of a similar resolution passed last week by the Undergraduate Council. At this point there is no significant, organized student opposition to the workers’ demands.

At the same time, the Administration is actively discouraging student support for the workers. Not only have students at Harvard Law School received an email from high-level administrators suggesting that support for the HUDS strike would be “divisive” and goes against the objective of building “community,” but the Administration has now stooped to asking graduate student employees who are already exempt from overtime pay to voluntarily cross the HUDS picket line and perform the jobs HUDS workers are fighting to keep. Continue reading “The Role of Students is to Amplify the HUDS Struggle”

From Attica prisoners to Harvard Law students: a message from behind the wall

The last great book I read made me cry and grind my teeth and pace my cell. It was written by a Harvard Law School graduate. It was Bryan Stevenson’s Just Mercy. With the best education in America, Mr. Stevenson chose to “get close to,” defend and ultimately save the lives of people on death row. People on these kind of missions—playing a bigger game in life—make murderers like me melt.

My name is John J. Lennon and I am a thirty-nine-year-old prisoner serving twenty-eight years to life at Attica Correctional Facility in western upstate New York. I was convicted of selling drugs and shooting a man to death on a Brooklyn street in 2001. I’m sorry for killing him, I’m sorry for it all.

That said, I’m not just a murderer. Today I’m also a journalist. Years ago, I fell into a couple of opportunities at Attica. In a privately-funded pilot college program, I learned how to think better. In a creative writing workshop, I learned how to write clearer. Since then, my words have appeared in publications that make them matter.

Recently, Pete Davis, a law student and online editor at the Harvard Law Record, asked me to write a piece, offering a sort of open mic to talk to you all at Harvard Law. Since my lane is journalism and not the law, I figured I would interview a few of my seasoned prisonmates and get their takes. Continue reading “From Attica prisoners to Harvard Law students: a message from behind the wall”

Strike support video released in response to university-wide email

On October 11, Harvard’s Vice President of Human Resources emailed all university students with the administration’s perspective on the contract negotiations with Harvard dining hall workers– a negotiation which has led to a strike now entering its third week. In response, a group of undergraduates and law students supportive of the striking workers have released a video, responding to the administration’s claims and sharing excerpts from HUDS workers’ speeches at a strike rally earlier in this month. The video is below:

An Exclusive Interview with Dean Minow

You may have read about the HLS administration’s refusal to allow the Record to publish its recent interview with Dean Minow. Our editors-in-chief, I regret to say, are staggeringly incompetent and weak-willed. Like all Harvard Law students, they are anatomical curiosities, who are at once both hidebound and spineless. You can depend upon them for nothing. And so, for the good of the paper, I considered it my duty to salvage the whole operation and interview the Dean myself.

How did I secure an on-the-record interview with the Dean, you ask, after she denied the same to my editorial overlords? Well, I’ve been around this school a long time, you see, and I know things. I know who has their fingers in the door. I know who has their foot in the pie. And oh yes, I know where the bodies are buried. They say they can’t tear down the Gropius Complex because it’s a historical landmark, but who really believes that? Oh, the terrible secrets that lurk in the bowels of that concrete monstrosity! How many nights have I lain awake on the sofa in the Record basement, listening to the faint finger-scrabbling of Harvard’s hapless enemies, entombed within the walls!

But I digress.

Continue reading “An Exclusive Interview with Dean Minow”

Some Unsolicited Advice, Part III

I retired from the practice of law in 2013. I spent 43 years as a transactional attorney, mostly as a partner with Foley & Lardner LLP. Neither of my children decided to become lawyers, so I never thought to share much with them about the lessons I learned during my years of practice that helped me succeed as a partner in a large law firm. Since I believe there is some “wisdom” to be gained from my experiences, I decided to share some of them with you in this three part series. Parts I and II can be found here and here.

Try To Become Indispensable 

If you want to become a partner, try to become indispensable to the partners you are working for. Ask what you can do on a transaction to ease their burden. As you become more experienced, go to them and suggest a course of action that you believe will advance the transaction and allow the partner to do something else with his or her time. Don’t be too pushy. Just make it clear that you are interested in taking on more responsibility if the partner thinks you are ready to do so. When senior associates or senior counsel are considered for partnership, the ones that have made things easier for the partners they work for are likely to have the easiest time.

Continue reading “Some Unsolicited Advice, Part III”

An Apology to the Dean, and to Our Readers

On September 30, the editors-in-chief of The Record conducted a brief interview with Dean Minow to discuss topics of interest to the Harvard Law School community. We had hoped to make these Q&A’s a regular feature of The Record, with the intention of fostering frank, substantive dialogue between the HLS administration and the student body. Ahead of the interview, we provided the administration with a general overview of the kinds of topics we hoped to cover. HLS’s public relations director, Michelle Deakin, agreed to the interview on the condition that the Dean would be allowed to review the article ahead of publication, and approve or reject the wording of individual quotations.

Upon receiving our initial draft, however, the administration indicated that they would not allow us to publish the interview at all. To quote from the e-mail Ms. Deakin sent us:

When I spoke of the interview being “off the record” and that any quotes would need to be reviewed by Dean Minow in advance of publication, that was with the understanding that this was an informational interview and that you might develop a story idea or two from the conversation.   You have no permission to use any quotations.  Neither the Dean nor I were aware that you were hoping to present these answers as a q and a, and the Dean will not be granting permission for her quotes to be condensed and presented in this manner.

Continue reading “An Apology to the Dean, and to Our Readers”

Statement of Support for Striking HUDS Workers

The editorial board of the Harvard Law Record has voted (3 in favor, 1 opposed, 1 abstention) to stand in support of Harvard’s dining service workers and their decision to strike. Local 26, the labor union representing the workers, and Harvard Corporation have been negotiating since May over details of the workers’ contracts, yet the administration remains unpersuaded by workers’ grievances, and provisions regarding health benefits and wages remain unchanged. As a result, on September 29, workers voted to authorize a strike. When Harvard fulfilled none of their demands, workers began to strike this past Wednesday.

While HUDS workers’ hourly earnings are competitive, their yearly salary is far from it. Typically Harvard does not provide the workers with work during the summer and winter holidays. Local 26 claims workers’ salaries are around $31,000, while the University’s representatives state figures closer to $35,000. According to the MIT Living Wage Calculator, even $34,000 is not enough to sustain a household consisting of more than one individual in the greater Boston area. Local 26 is asking that Harvard provide year-round work and guarantee a minimum salary of $35,000. The university has responded by offering a stipend of $150-$250 a week, depending on tenure of employment, for those available to work during the summer months.

The union is also requesting fairer healthcare coverage, as currently Harvard’s proposed health care plan for workers substantially increases co-pays. Such increases inevitably translate to sacrifices that these workers should not have to make: whether that means not taking their kids to the doctor’s office, or not being able to afford car insurance.

The fact that Harvard Corporation recently raised its capital campaign by more than $7 billion should evoke outcry when considering the workers’ current financial situation. As a newspaper comprised of students, the Harvard Law Record is indebted to HUDS employees. They support us every day. We are grateful for their services and believe that it is their deserved right to strike for a livable wage and a reasonable standard of living.

Editor’s note: The vote was among the editors-in-chief, opinion, and web editors. The result of the vote was three in favor, one opposed, and one abstention.

Striking Workers Optimistic for Win on Vacation Work, Benefits

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For the second day, Harvard University Dining Workers were on strike, clamoring for higher pay, vacation work, and better health insurance benefits.

Negotiators for Local 26, the union that represents HUDS employees, met with two non-Harvard mediators on Thursday, and representatives for Local 26 expressed optimism that they would see their demands met.

“We’re winning,” Local 26 negotiator Michael Kramer said to a crowd of striking workers and supporters in a rally this afternoon. “They have been knocked back on their heels.”

Continue reading “Striking Workers Optimistic for Win on Vacation Work, Benefits”

Vote Early, Vote Often

Australia is not immune from the global trend of political polarization and disaffection. Nevertheless, election days in the country are a rare display of national unity.

On a Saturday approximately once every three years, roughly 90% of voters make their way (down the left side of the road) to their local polling booth. At nearly a third of booths, they are met by the great Australian tradition of the Election Day Sausage Sizzle. Campaign volunteers and staffers will be making last minute pitches for people’s votes and reminding them of party policies, rather than door knocking or cold calling to remind people to turn out. There are no get out the vote campaigns. The vote is out and about and eating barbecue: in Australia voting is compulsory.

Continue reading “Vote Early, Vote Often”

Support the Strike

The strike is on! After more than three months of frustrating negotiations with the university, Harvard University Dining Services workers announced that they will be going on strike starting Wednesday, October 5, 2016.

Following a rally in Harvard Yard last Friday afternoon, HUDS workers and students marched into Belinda Hall, where three workers spoke to an audience of supporters about their experiences as Harvard employees. Better than any statistic, these workers’ stories highlight Harvard’s inability or unwillingness to live up to its progressive values. Harvard would rather cut corners on labor costs than ensure stable livelihoods for its lowest-paid workers, whose services are essential for students’ well-being. As Willie Moore, the Hark’s “buffalo chicken wrap guy” succinctly put it, “Harvard is just as it is in the streets.” While Harvard may appear classy to the rest of the world, those on the inside know the crass truth.

Continue reading “Support the Strike”

The ABA’s Control Over What Lawyers Say Around the Water Cooler

The elites in America are falling all over themselves to become politically correct. Universities are banning “trigger warnings” that might offend someone. College administrators at schools like Cornell and Yale agreed to rip up copies of the U.S. Constitution after a person posing as a student described the document as “triggering” and “oppressive.” Go to YouTube and you can see and hear Carol Lasser, Professor of History and Director of Gender, Sexuality and Feminist Studies at Oberlin College, tell us, “The Constitution is an oppressive document.” The Chair of Comparative Studies at Oberlin adds, “The Constitution in everyday life causes people pain.” The pain it causes also protects her right to attack the Constitution, which she forgot to mention.

Continue reading “The ABA’s Control Over What Lawyers Say Around the Water Cooler”

Professor Emeritus Presents Photos as Addenda to Scholarship

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Lining the halls of the Law School are portraits of tenured professors, former deans, donors, and Supreme Court justices. Their apparent purpose is equal parts inspirational and aspirational: study hard enough and you’ll climb to the top of the profession. Yet strewn among these portraits are some very different images: a gaggle of Vietnamese children laughing uproariously, a group of solemn Bhutanese śrāmaṇeras clad in crimson robes, a Greek woman peering from the door of her home while her dark clothing blends into the shadows of her doorway.
Continue reading “Professor Emeritus Presents Photos as Addenda to Scholarship”