Brush your teeth

BY JEREMY BLACHMAN

Brush your teeth

The curse has been broken. After 86 years… someone is finally going to get a “C” in a class. Heck, it’s probably going to be me, since I keep forgetting to pick up new reading packets from the distribution center and by the time I get there, they’re all out. There’s something profoundly uncomfortable about walking into class knowing that not only haven’t you done the reading; you don’t even have the reading; and you know you’re not going to remember to pick up the reading until the week before the exam when you realize there’s a small gap in your notes in between “Welcome to the first day of class,” and “I’ll be available in my office between now and the exam.”

I was reading the Adviser, as I searched for something to inspire me to write this week. There’s almost too much there. There’s the annual “Harvest of Health” fair next Wednesday, with “free food and giveaways” and “free chair massages.” I remember last year’s. I got a band-aid, a couple inches of dental floss, a brochure about proper cleaning between my toes, a used Kleenex, and three un-popped popcorn kernels. I guess I got there late. I’m confused as to what the Harvest of Health fair is advertising. Given our student health insurance plan, if, say, my arm gets chopped off in a freak Civil Procedure accident (let’s say my hand is in Vermont while my elbow is in New Hampshire, when suddenly a car rolls down a hill…), Harvard Health Services is really going to be the place I go, I promise. And if any of us still need “reminders” to brush our teeth or take care of that rash, I think we deserve whatever our fates and shouldn’t have someone reminding us that the normal color of skin is not green.

There’s also a message about a course on “health management for older adults” being given in conjunction with the medical school starting in January. Unfortunately, the course meets from 5:45-7:15 on Thursday nights, which is well past the bedtime of anyone who’d be interested in taking it. Finally, there’s an announcement about the 2005 American Bar Association Mediation Competition: “Regional competitions will be held in early March and the winners will compete nationally.” I think that’s the same way American Idol works. Interesting.

So perhaps I was reading my Adviser too carefully over Flyout Week. But what else is there for a 3L to do? I’ve gotten some e-mails from 2L friends of mine: “I already have 12 offers, including 9 at firms I really like, but I still have 8 more callbacks this week, so I’m in a really good position.” I may be exaggerating the numbers. For 2Ls, though, it’s the beginning of the end: you come back to campus with an offer, and – you think you’re not picking up your reading packets in time now? Just wait until next semester, when you have no idea what you’re still doing in class.

This is the problem with the recruiting schedule as is. People’s futures are fixed before they’re halfway through law school. Fall of 2L year most people already know where they’re going to end up – or at least where they have an option of ending up – and it makes the rest of the time here feel pretty useless. You’re on your way out before you’ve really gotten adjusted to the place. I think this is the explanation to address Dean Kagan’s comment in her State of the School speech that she doesn’t understand why students are unhappy here. They’re unhappy here because once you go through flyout week 2L year, the rest of your education feels somewhat pointless. And a year-and-three-quarters is a long time to feel like what you’re doing is pointless. Despite the plethora of opportunities on campus to work with brilliant professors, interesting classmates, and with the unfathomable resources of the Largest Law Library In The Known Universe (TM).

In her State of the School speech, Dean Kagan said the law school cannot be criticized for keeping students from pursuing public interest careers – the low-income protection program, the Office of Public Interest Advising, the speakers that come to campus, the summer funding support… all of these things bear her out. But I think the reason why students can see it differently is because of this recruiting schedule. No, the law school doesn’t force people to take corporate jobs. But OCI happens so early (and it’s not Harvard’s fault – at most schools it happens even earlier – so I’m not blaming the Dean, but just trying to see if I can explain the paradox) and so many people participate that people who don’t – and who are left to tell friends, still a full twenty months before graduation, that they don’t have a job lined up yet – feel like exceptions. The process marginalizes people who don’t participate, probably to such an extent that some people who wouldn’t otherwise try a firm at all try one 2L summer – which is probably a good thing, actually, because how can you know for sure if you don’t try, and it’s an awful lot of money – but are really just postponing their marginalization until 3L year.

I don’t know if there’s a solution to this – given that it comes from the firms’ schedules, and is a problem everywhere, not just here – and I don’t even know if I’m describing a real problem, or just something I’m imagining in my head. And I’m really not sure how a column about the Red Sox breaking their curse ended up as a column about OCI. Maybe next it’s time to break the 86-year curse of every Monday being “Turkey Day” in the Hark cafeteria. Was turkey on sale at some point in the past, and the school just stocked up for the future? Can we donate the extra turkey somewhere? Maybe the Yankees need a new mascot.

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