“If you come to law school wanting to do public service for a career, and you leave stripped of that ambition, and then you blame the law school, well, quite honestly, if you do that, you won’t be taking appropriate ownership of your career and your choices.” –Dean Kagan, 9/23/04 State of the Law School Address
Dean Kagan also finds it “amazing” and “crazy” to think that HLS isn’t committed to public service. I don’t blame Kagan personally for her astonishingly offensive statements; water is the last thing a fish is going notice about her environment, and HLS is unquestionably floating in foul waters.
I’ve never been to an “on-campus” interview. The closest I’ve come is when I went to the Charles during last OCI season to see a talk by Larry Kramer, the founder of ACT UP. But even I, someone who despises the corporate monorail that is HLS, would NEVER blame the students for becoming corporate tools. After all, no one says, “I want to be the grease on the wheels of the corporate machinery when I grow up.” Or, for those utterly ensnared in the law and economics mindset, “I want to be a transaction cost when I grow up.” The whole ship of HLS points toward corporate outcomes, yet we really to expect hundreds of students to jump ship and paddle for their lives?
It’s true that LIPP and summer funding are nice lifeboats, and plenty of students come here because of these programsÑthe “I really wanted to go to Berkeley, but it’s hard to turn down loan forgiveness” crowd. We may have more public service “commitment” than some law schools, but in the grand scheme of things, these programs are merely a side show to the main event of providing fresh bodies to replace burned-out or retiring corporate lawyers who’ve come to realize too late that they’ve wasted their lives.
As dean, Kagan needs to take appropriate ownership to ensure that as few students as possible suffer the same fate and, consequently, to make HLS an organ for social improvement, not rapacious profit.
Noah Lewis, 3L