BY DIANE LONG
Last fall, the Law School community learned that Harvard Law School would be dramatically changing the first year program. As the year comes to an end, I would like to explain some of the planned changes and present some of the suggestions that the Law School Council would like to see implemented over the coming months.
The most dramatic change in the plan is the restructuring of the four sections into seven sections with roughly eighty students. A “Faculty Master” will head each eighty-student law college. The seven Faculty Masters will be Professors Coates, Frug, Hay, Randall Kennedy, Meltzer, Minow, and Westfall. Each of the Masters will teach one class in the college, except for Coates, who will not be teaching in his college.
A second change is the complete restructuring of the LRA program. Instead of LRA, next year’s 1Ls will enroll in the First Year Lawyering (FYL) program. The Law School will hire seven lecturers to head the FYL program in each section. The lecturer will conduct one class per week for the entire college, while BSA will continue to run weekly LRA-style classes. Two important aspects of the FYL program will be a comparable curriculum across all colleges and a focus on better feedback on all assignments. The new program will continue to include memo writing, brief writing and oral argument components, and may potentially include negotiation, ethics and corporate projects.
Beyond these changes, little has been done to define the college system. Unfortunately, most of this work will take place this summer, making it difficult for students to play a role in the implementation process. In response, the Law School Council has compiled the student input it has received over the last year into “Seven Goals for Seven Colleges.” The LSC hopes that the faculty, when implementing the substance of the colleges this summer, will remain mindful of these Seven Goals. For questions regarding the Seven Goals, or the colleges in general, students are encouraged to contact Mike French at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Seven Goals for Seven Colleges
The following are seven student-suggested goals for the new college system along with ideas that would address each goal:
Branding of the colleges
In an effort to differentiate the college system from the current sections, steps should be taken to create independent identities for each of the colleges.
Naming of the colleges – Famous alums, former faculty and deans, and prominent legal or political figures would all be appropriate sources for names
Annual events – Each college should be encouraged to create their own individual event, such as an annual conference, re-inviting certain guest speakers or hosting a certain type of social event
Create physical space for individual colleges
Certain aspects of the colleges should remain stable for a set number of years to ensure their longevity.
Assign faculty and masters to a certain college for a certain number of years
Create opportunities for 2Ls and 3Ls to work or advise within their former college
The colleges should be used to create stronger faculty and peer-to-peer counseling
Masters should encourage college faculty to hold career and course selection panels
A-Group leaders could compile a list of students at year-end willing to serve as informal advisors to the college’s incoming class
Masters should encourage their colleagues, especially those teaching within the college, to attend college academic and social events
Afternoon wine and cheese with an entire college faculty
Faculty presentations of their current research or area of study
Faculty commentary on recent legal developments or political events
While smaller sections create many benefits, steps should be taken to ensure student interaction between colleges
Weekly inter-college activity, either social or academic, possibly with both colleges’ faculty
Inter-college intramurals and Ames competition
The colleges provide the opportunity to test innovative curricular changes as called for in the Strategic Plan.
Plan faculty-led reading groups for 1Ls similar to the 2L and 3L reading groups held this year
Encourage student-led reading groups, perhaps focusing on alternatives to litigation or alternative social theory viewpoints
Provide financial support for innovative curricular research in one college a year
Hold intra-college Faculty panels, where college Faculty could offer their perspective on the 1L courses being taught by the other Faculty in their college
Programs and events should be evaluated, with the hope of introducing positive innovations into the other colleges.
Meet with student representatives throughout the year and at year-end
Conduct town hall meetings, surveys or student-faculty meetings