Opinion  /  January 2, 2015  / 

Harvard Law School’s Endowment as Catalyst for Change: 3 Bold Proposals

Harvard Law School is perhaps the most prestigious law school in the nation with countless (in)famous names attached to its faculty and alumni, an influence unmatched in the Obama regime, and a symbiotic relationship with the commanding heights of the corporate world. Harvard Law’s embrace of the growing business presence in higher education [1] parallels the emphasis the school places on corporate law and major firm recruiting; its current role is to produce the premiere legal guardians of international corporate control and state power. With an endowment of $1.7 billion, Harvard Law has been compensated handsomely for its role defending corporate capitalism; indeed considered as part of Harvard University’s sprawling $36.4 billion endowment empire [2] it might be seen more as a giant hedge fudge masquerading as a teaching institution rather than the reverse. The institution socializes its student body to choose big law over the public interest through crushing … Continue reading

Opinion  /  January 2, 2015  / 

In Response to “Dogmatic Shortcomings”

We recognize that there’s some irony in writing a piece titled “In Response to…” since responses are the very type of submission we most often choose not to publish as moderators of Socratic Shortcomings. To those who have sent in submissions that did not go up, we hope that this response in the Record will shed light on our process. Moderating a tumblr like Socratic Shortcomings is not easy. We created the tumblr in order to provide (1) a platform of solidarity for voices that have been traditionally marginalized in higher education and the legal field and (2) a place to exhibit many thoughts and lived experiences at Harvard Law School. While we have received dozens of valuable submissions from students writing about their own experiences, many students have been more eager to respond to someone else’s experience in order to “clarify” a situation, tell a student that he or … Continue reading

Opinion  /  January 2, 2015  / 

Dogmatic Shortcomings

If you’re a student at HLS, you’ve probably become aware in recent weeks of a new elephant entering the room. Its name is “Socratic Shortcomings,” and it’s a Tumblr board dedicated to “shared stories about identity and diversity at HLS.” Moderated by new student group Harvard Students for Inclusion, the board promises a safe space for “students of all identities and backgrounds, named or anonymously.” I first learned about the board through a friend, who was upset because she had taken the time to compose a thoughtful submission, only to have it blocked by the moderators. Later, I had a sincere and considered submission of my own blocked, and I have since heard of similar experiences from multiple other friends. As I can report firsthand, if your submission is rejected, you won’t learn why. Your contribution will vanish without a trace, and you’ll learn of its rejection only by seeing … Continue reading

Opinion  /  December 18, 2014  / 

Discuss Pakistani Lives

I sit here, an hour before my Evidence final and in light of the recent massacre of schoolchildren in Pakistan, unable to concentrate. Why should I study law if law can’t protect children? Why should I study law if I can’t protect my children (for, yes, they are my children, too, although they are Pakistani and lived across the globe)? They are my children for the perhaps illogical reason that they are all our children. Here at Harvard Law School, there has been a strong recent movement against police racial profiling, against police violence and against systematic racism. The movement has made numerous requests to the Dean to recognize societal injustices. It has staged numerous “Die-Ins” outside of Faculty Meetings. Many of their slogans include “Black Lives Matter” and “I Can’t Breathe,” referring to Eric Garner’s last words as he was choked to death by New York police. Pakistani lives … Continue reading

Opinion  /  December 8, 2014  / 

Silence Means You Are Comfortable With a Status Quo That Is Unequal, Racist, and Unjust

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Protesters in Harvard Square, December 5, 2014 To the man in the coffee shop who asked me why I went out to disrupt people’s commute home, to Boston Mayor who criticized the thousands of committed #BlackLivesMatter protesters for “frightening a child … who just came there to see Santa Claus and instead had people screaming in her ear,” and to everyone who has not yet taken a position on the violence occurring across the country or is remaining silent — here are a few thoughts. I am not sorry that you had to wait 4.5 minutes to cross the street. What I am sorry about was that you did not take that opportunity to come out, learn about what has drawn hundreds of thousands into the streets in this country, and joined the protest yourself. We started disrupting because cops murdered an Black man and then left his body on … Continue reading

From the Print Edition / Opinion  /  November 20, 2014  / 

Divesting Common Sense

Sometimes, when I fall asleep reading Ayn Rand, my mind slips into a Libertarian Wonderland. In that world, rational people ask two simple questions before trying to impose a rule that would restrict the actions of others. First, will this rule be a headache to follow? Second, will it actually do any good? If the answer to the first question is yes and to the second question is no, then the rule is not implemented. When I wake up, I realize that these principles aren’t even necessarily libertarian; they are just common sense. Unfortunately for us all, the Divest Harvard movement does not exist in a Libertarian Wonderland. It takes a laudable goal, fighting climate change, and pursues it by one of the least efficient means possible. The result is a massive headache for the administration with no hope of having a real effect on climate change. I say this … Continue reading

From the Print Edition / Opinion  /  November 20, 2014  / 

Breach of Faith: Why We’re Suing Harvard Over Its Fossil Fuel Investments

Earlier today, we filed a lawsuit against the Harvard Corporation over its investments in fossil fuels. As student members of the Harvard Climate Justice Coalition, we’re demanding that our university stop profiting from the destruction of the earth’s climate and that it divest its holdings in gas, oil, and coal companies. Our legal claims are simple. Harvard is a non-profit educational institution, chartered in 1650 to promote “the advancement and education of youth.” By financially supporting the most dangerous industrial activities in the history of the planet, the Harvard Corporation (officially known as “the President and Fellows of Harvard College”) is violating commitments under its charter as well as its charitable duty to operate in the public interest. We’re also suing on behalf of future generations. By investing in the extraction of fossil fuels, the Harvard Corporation is actively supporting the destruction of the earth’s atmosphere and the catastrophic consequences … Continue reading

From the Print Edition / Opinion  /  November 20, 2014  / 

Public Interest or Law Firm? It’s Not Either/Or

Many law students would like to get a public interest job after graduation, but those jobs are not plentiful, and they don’t do much to reduce the size of law school debts. But if you go to a law firm, you don’t have to forget why you came to law school, because at many large firms today, pro bono is alive and well, and associates are encouraged to take advantage of those opportunities. During national pro bono week in late October, we had a program here at George Washington Law School to which we invited lawyers from five major firms in Washington to talk about their pro bono work. The firms all have very robust pro bono practices, which includes many hours spent by partners as well as associates. Much of the work is litigation, but by no means all. Firms find ways to help small businesses, non-profits, and developing … Continue reading

From the Print Edition / Opinion  /  November 20, 2014  / 

The Great Contradiction in Criminal Justice: Why Corporate Executives Should, But Rarely Do, Go to Jail

Criminal prosecutions serve three purposes: punishing the bad actor, deterring future crime, and expressing social values. As the great legal historian Lawrence M. Friedman wrote: “[C]riminal justice tells us where … the line lies between good and bad. … [T]he history of criminal justice is not only the history of the forms of rewards and punishment; it is also a story about the dominant morality, and hence a history of power.” Viewed from this perspective, today’s criminal justice system is a sad commentary on the values our society claims to hold dear. America’s 5,000 prisons hold about 2.3 million inmates, more than in any other country that records such statistics, including Russia. An additional 4.1 million people live under the supervision of correctional institutions, primarily on probation, for a total of 6.4 million or one in 34 Americans. African Americans are eight times more likely to be incarcerated than whites. … Continue reading

From the Print Edition / Opinion  /  November 20, 2014  / 

In Response to “Going to Harvard is a Privilege, but Safety is a Right”: Due Process is a Right, Too

In 1603, Sir Walter Raleigh was convicted of treason in a sham of a trial. Raleigh had no knowledge of the charges’ substance until the morning of the tribunal, when he learned he was accused, on hearsay alone, of plotting to enthrone Lady Arabella Stuart. Years later, as a partial result of his conviction, resigned to the great injustice done to both his body and his name by the tribunal of 1603, Raleigh placed his head on the block, refused a blindfold and — after the reluctant headsman delayed — implored, “Strike man, strike!” How did this murder disguised as justice occur? The answer is simple: an inexcusable absence of due process. I include this (admittedly drastic) example because outrage at the great injustice done to Raleigh in this witch-hunt called a “trial,” in this persecution disguised as prosecution, contributed to the development of numerous facets of what we today … Continue reading