Goodbye, Columbus by Philip Roth

Editor’s note: Jeanne-Rose Arn wrote this paper while she was an LL.M. student at HLS for a course called “The Fiction and Biography of Philip Roth: A Meditation on American Identity.” We present it here.

Goodbye, Columbus is a story about assimilation and about social ascension. But perhaps more importantly it is an initiation novella, in which, of course, Neil’s initiation relates to his assimilation and to his ascension. The story draws a circle, in a short period of time, from the moment he starts trying to be more assimilated, willing to defy his Jewish identity, to the moment he returns to his identity: “what was it inside me that had turned pursuit and clutching into love, and then turned it inside out again? What was it that had turned winning into losing, and losing – who knows – into winning?” (p. 135) The novella takes place during one summer; Neil is 23, he meets his first love, and he is confronted – maybe for the first time – to the real struggling life. It is a transitory summer of questioning, of experiences – an accelerated process of assimilation, during which everything happens “very fast” (p. 17) until he closes the circle.

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A Message to Lawyers and Law Students: We Can Always Afford Justice (And No, Your Taxes Will Not Pay for It)

Most Republicans and Democrats agree on one thing: looming fiscal challenges, made more severe by the recent tax cuts, require that something be done about the budget. According to this view, we didn’t have enough money before, and we have less money now, putting ever more spending on the nation’s “credit card.”

Although lawyers and law students might (wrongly) think broad macroeconomic issues such as distribution and entitlements should be left to economists and policy wonks, they should recognize that fiscal policy involves questions of individual rights and justice in a narrow, legal sense. Courts determine what due process requires in part by evaluating the “financial cost.” Cash-strapped government entities rely on fines and fees for funding, inevitably preying on vulnerable communities. There’s also the massive crisis in legal services, with understaffed and underfunded public defender and civil legal aid offices facing overwhelming caseloads. The results are a disaster, and in each instance, individual rights are subject to fiscal considerations.

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Progressive Jewish Alliance: Stop Violent Repression of Gaza Protests

We, members of the Progressive Jewish Alliance at Harvard Law School, deplore the Israeli government’s violent response to Palestinian protests in Gaza. We join groups around the world in calling for an end to the wanton killing of demonstrators, an end to the siege of Gaza, and ultimately for a democratic future in which both Israelis and Palestinians may live lives of dignity, security, and freedom.

Nothing occurs in a vacuum. While many who defend Israel’s actions ask, “What would you do in the face of protesters seeking to breach the border?,” we ask a different question: “What level of oppression would drive people to risk their lives protesting against one of the world’s most powerful militaries?”

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Why I Am Disappointed with Jeff Flake

What is our Class Day ceremony about? It is a celebration of our hard work as students in law school, and of our induction into the professional world of the law. These are honors whose meaning and value depend in every ounce on the vitality and integrity of the legal system itself.

And so we are lucky, as law school graduates, to be entering into a political environment where the rule of law is of foundational, universal import. And where lawyers wield real, respected authority in the enforcement of law and the pursuit of justice.

But that political environment is currently in crisis. The president’s politics, apparently shared by a large number of high-up Executive and Congressional officials, betray a consistent thread of anti-democratic, authoritarian values. Between denying objective truth, threatening the free press, indulging nativist demagoguery, endorsing racist stereotypes, persecuting unauthorized immigrants, interfering in the free market, laughing off due process[1], selling public influence for private gain, compromising American interests to hostile foreign governments, undermining public faith in the judiciary, and obstructing independent prosecutorial and intelligence agencies, it is not too alarmist to say that the political foundation of this country, and the place of law within it, are under threat. Continue reading “Why I Am Disappointed with Jeff Flake”

From the Archives: Future Justice Breyer proposes income-based deferred tuition to increase public interest participation

This year, students debated different paths forward to increase public interest participation, including reforms to the Low Income Protection Program. As this 1977 Record archive article on future Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer’s proposal for income-based deferred tuition shows, this debate has been happening for a while.

“Pay Later” Schemes Debated

by Terry Keeney

April 15, 1977

The Law School faculty is currently considering proposals to allow students to defer paying tuition bills until after graduation.

The proposals, discussed at the March 30 faculty meeting, are far from the implementation stage. But if the Law School adopts some form of tuition deferral, students in the future may choose to obtain loans for all or part of their educational expenses. Then they would not be required to repay their loan obligations until as late as five or ten years after
graduation, when the rate of repayment would be determined by their income level.

Proponents of the plan argue that tuition deferral would accomplish two purposes. First, it would further shift the burden of financing the student’s legal education from the parents’ current income to the student’s future income. Second, it would remove the pressure on students to take high-paying jobs to repay educational debts and, some proponents hope, encourage more students to enter the less lucrative public-interest career. Continue reading “From the Archives: Future Justice Breyer proposes income-based deferred tuition to increase public interest participation”

Harvard Law School’s Glass Ceilings

I. Introduction

This May marks the 65th anniversary of the first class of women to graduate from Harvard Law School. In 1953, 12 women walked with their class; next month, 280 women will cross the stage and enter the ranks of HLS alumni. In the intervening years, this law school has seen changes of which we should be proud. We now have more than one bathroom for women to use, for starters. Women are no longer just a fraction of the student body: this year’s graduating class is 47.5 percent female, and next year we will have the first majority-female graduation ceremony. Women are on the faculty and in the administration, and feature prominently in accounts of the school’s most illustrious alumni. The Women’s Law Association (WLA) is the largest organization on campus, and female students hold 52 percent of the leadership roles in student organizations.

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Is law (still) an honorable profession?

Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, was a lawyer. Each year, when the Torah portion pertaining to Jethro is read at Central Synagogue in midtown Manhattan, a person is asked to give a talk relating to the law at a dinner following Friday night services. On 13 February 2009, New York University School of Law professor of ethics Stephen Gillers gave the Jethro talk. With minor changes, it is reprinted below:

When Ron Tabak e-mailed me about giving the Jethro talk this year, I was in Cambodia speaking about the American legal system to graduate law students at the Royal University of Law and Economics. That experience offered one further example of the intense interest globally in the rule of law in the United States. To my mind, the rule of law is America’s best export. If, in other nations, we can instill our respect for the rule of law, an independent bar and an independent judiciary, we will go a long way toward the creation of democratic institutions worldwide.

But our achievements in establishing a nation based on the rule of law should not be allowed to obscure problems with the work of lawyers here at home. When Ron and I agreed on the title of the talk, I was not yet clear on what I would say about honour and the legal profession although I had some vague ideas. Events this autumn, however, have clarified what needs to be said. When talking of honour, one could hardly begin in a better place than the events surrounding the fall of Bernard Madoff. I will then move to the question posed in my title and conclude with references to the Bible.

What I find most remarkable about the Bernard Madoff story so far is that his sons turned him in. Bernard Madoff confessed to his sons and on the advice of counsel, they turned him in.1 And the whole business came crashing down. Continue reading “Is law (still) an honorable profession?”

A Q&A with William T. Oree, law clerk and incarcerated person at Attica Correctional Facility

Harvard Law School’s mission statement is “to educate leaders who contribute to the advancement of justice and the well-being of society.” We cannot advance justice and societal well-being without knowing the reality of what is going outside of our campus and case books. In an effort to bring one of these outside voices to campus, I asked William T. Oree, an incarcerated person and law clerk at Attica Correctional Facility to share his thoughts with the Harvard Law community.

Oree is serving twelve years to life at Attica. He is the founder, writer, and editor of The Prisoner’s Lampoon, a self-published prison comedy magazine; his work has also been published in The Harvard Lampoon. He and his comedy writing partner are shopping a pilot script called PEN * PALS to production companies in Los Angeles. He is the inventor of “jailhouse comedy,” a blend of edgy, often raw humor with a little Shakespeare thrown in for good measure.

Pete Davis, Harvard Law Record (PD): What inspired you to write to Harvard Law School students about indigent defendants and ineffective assistance of counsel?

William T. Oree (WTO): In a nutshell, I have to say mass incarceration. More specifically, the desire to repair our nation’s broken justice system motivated me to make lawyers aware that their normative practices were actually contributing to the fact that the United States locks up more of its citizens than either China or Russia.

Sadly, many of the incarcerated have received sub-par legal services because of defense attorneys who allow considerations of judicial economy to drive their professional and moral obligation instead of the other way around. Unlike medical practitioners, there is no Hippocratic Oath that holds lawyers to a “first do not harm” standard. Moreover, many state and federal courts agree that the standard of effective assistance of counsel should be evaluated in a normative fashion. That is, that courts accept the minimum standards and practices as recommended by the American Bar Association with the understanding that what is minimal is fair and rational. Unfortunately, in all too many cases, the law is neither fair nor rational. It’s hard to avoid seeing this in any other way than as a mechanism by which the courts protect attorneys from malpractice, prioritizing the professional well-being of licensed attorneys over the constitutionally mandated defense of our nation’s citizens. Continue reading “A Q&A with William T. Oree, law clerk and incarcerated person at Attica Correctional Facility”

Open Letter From Alumni to Dean Manning: Respond to Our Bicentennial Crisis

On April 23, 2018, seven prominent alumni sent an open letter to Dean Manning requesting a public response to and public hearing on Our Bicentennial Crisis, the Record report on Harvard Law’s public interest mission. The letter is copied below:

Dear Dean Manning,

Last October, during the two hundredth anniversary of Harvard Law School, Pete Davis (3L) and his colleagues issued a report titled, Our Bicentennial Crisis: A Call to Action for Harvard Law School’s Public Interest Mission. Its contents were of considerable interest to more than a few students, faculty, and deans from other law schools. As you know, on February 7, 2018, four faculty members met with a sizable number of students for an evening discussion. In addition, The Harvard Law Record has devoted considerable space to the report and the reactions to its recommendations and analyses. Continue reading “Open Letter From Alumni to Dean Manning: Respond to Our Bicentennial Crisis”

Poll Results: Do Harvard Law 3Ls Want Jeff Flake to Speak?

Editor’s note: We used a Google Form to conduct this poll, and as such, it was impossible to prevent 1Ls and 2Ls from voting without identifying all voters. The voters in this data set should not be treated as a sample size representative of the Class of 2018. It is possible that this poll was circulated in some social circles and not others, and we did not share it anywhere except on our website and on our Facebook page.

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