Noah Lewis letter, 10/7

BY JKERRIDG@LAW.HARVARD.EDU

Noah Lewis would like us to believe that HLS is to blame for bleeding its students dry of every public service impulse they have and turning civic-minded, idealistic 1Ls into corporate drones by the time OCI sign-ups roll around. After all, how long can poor, impressionable HLS students be expected to “paddle for their lives?” I have more respect for HLS students than that. Our classmates are among the brightest of their generation and have led full and fascinating lives before coming to the Law School, many with first and even second careers already under their belts. I doubt that our students, who have often succeeded against many obstacles to even gain admittance to HLS, suddenly become spineless wimps bobbing merrily along wherever the current takes them. It is overly simplistic to make sharp distinctions between public service and “corporate outcomes.” This neglects the achievements and contributions firms’ pro bono work. It ignores the reality that many lawyers will have long and varied careers, moving back and forth between private practice and public service. Ultimately, only students themselves are at fault for their own career choices. It is not the responsibility of Dean Kagan or HLS to map out an individual student’s future. The Law School offers a thriving OPIA, announcements about public service jobs, innumerable programs on career alternatives to private practice, LIPP and summer funding. If an HLS student, who, after all, was ambitious, organized, and intelligent enough to gain admission to the Law School in the first place, suddenly finds himself too lazy, unmotivated, or weak to forego OCI and pursue a public service career, that student should not blame HLS for his own personal choices. It is the Law School’s primary responsibility to provide a legal education, not to prevent students “suffering” the “fate” of private practice. If a student is able to have the public-spiritedness knocked out of him after a couple semesters at a law school that acknowledges, facilitates and even encourages public service at every turn, I can only question how strong that student’s commitment to public service was in the first place.

Jeanine Kerridge

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