BY JEREMY BLACHMAN
The invasion of the suits finally spread to the 1Ls last week, at least to my section. But it wasn’t overeager students flagrantly violating the ban on summer job searching until December 1. No, that will have to wait for next week. It was just for yearbook photos. And for our section’s reception with Dean Clark.
First, the yearbook photos. I’m not sure if that was really a legitimate reason to wear a suit. They suggested we wear “business attire.” But doesn’t that depend on what business you’re in? What if you’re a lifeguard? A clown? An underwear model? I think it’s a bit of a stretch to assume that “business attire” means you have to wear a suit. It’s presumptuous. What if I can’t get any of the jobs that require suits and I’m stuck wearing a paper hat and apron? Then assuming that suit and tie as “business attire” will make me feel awfully silly. But I’ll excuse the people who simply wanted to look spiffy for their yearbook photo. After all, yearbook photos are permanent.
Harder to excuse are the people wearing suits for our section’s reception with Dean Clark. Right before our reception, we had our OCS/OPIA orientation session, which I suppose was an even worse occasion to wear a suit (just barely above “rehearsing for my funeral” as far as reasons to wear a suit are concerned).
The orientation presented us with a number of graphs about career prospects for graduates. The first showed the number of graduates who go to firms compared with the number who do other things, like clerkships, public interest work, joining the space program, getting struck by lightning, and turning into a chimpanzee (the last six of which all appear to have about an equal chance). It looked like a graph comparing the Harvard endowment with the amount of change in various students’ pockets. The bar indicating the percent who went to firms barely fit on the screen. The other bars looked like someone had squashed them. The only way it could have looked more uneven is if they’d used a logarithmic scale. The second graph showed the percent of graduates who get jobs as compared with the national average. Guess what that looked like.
Anyway, after the exciting career orientation, it was off to the Clark reception, with the people in suits. This was unnecessary for a few reasons. First, they said there’d be food. My policy is, anywhere where there’s food is a dangerous place to wear my one suit (actually it’s not even really a suit — I have a jacket and a pair of pants that come oh-so-close to matching. Barely visible to the naked eye. Almost can’t tell one piece is navy blue and the other is black. Almost. Goes great with my olive green only-pair-of-dress-socks and my brown shoes). So easy to get it dirty, and then what? Plus, what could the consequences possibly be of not wearing a suit? Would Clark kick us out of school? Erase our entries from the log we had to sign to get our ID cards? Ensure we get a “low pass” in FYL?
And, frankly, the reception wasn’t really worth a suit. Maybe a polo shirt and a pair of khakis, but definitely not a suit. I’ll admit, the food was a much-appreciated step up from the goldfish and assorted crackers at the All-Law School Party (does Harvard own stock in Pepperidge Farm?). There were miniature spinach pies, fried wontons, little triangles of toast, assorted fruit and other finger foods that, in large enough quantities, made for a filling and nutritious dinner, especially if you brought a Ziploc bag and loaded up on the chicken on a stick. There were also some assorted flavors of what more sophisticated members of my section told me was paté. It looked kind of like slabs of clay to me, so I’m not totally sure. Tasted like clay too. (And three slices was just about enough to sculpt a lovely model of Langdell, complete with columns. Too bad they cleared away my plate before I could save it.)
The highlight of the reception was when Clark told us of the accomplishments of people in our section: “…a Fulbright scholar, a Truman scholar, two people with an allergy to peanuts, one student who still wets the bed, three hypochondriacs, one convicted felon, four transvestites and a former stunt double for Barney the dinosaur.” Now there’s one person whose “business attire” most certainly wasn’t a three-piece suit.