LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Avoiding the Corporate Career Path


On March 10th, 2005, 3L Raffi Melkonian wrote an article in the Record titled ‘Us? Flabby?’, in which he documents the treatment that many Harvard graduates get when they join large law firms after law school. In this article, Mr. Melkonian points out that the partners in the firms don’t care for the associates, that the associates work very long hours, that their work is very boring, and that the associates soon learn that they have little chance of ever making partner in the firm where they are wage slaves.

As a Harvard Law School graduate that now has 15 years of legal work under my belt, let me start by stating that Mr. Melkonian is completely correct in his assessment of large law firms. The deal works like this. HLS forces students to engage in mountains of debt, which forces the student to work like a slave for years at large law firms, to pay back the HLS debt. At the end, the graduate doesn’t make partner in the firm, the firm makes a fortune by exploiting the associate, and HLS faculty and Deans buy new summer vacation homes, new furs, new cars, and put another million dollars in their banks. Thus the question; how do HLS students, who know the system, win, when the odds are stacked so clearly against them? Let me offer my humble solution, which isn’t for everyone, but which may work for Raffi, the wise 3L who asks the right rhetorical questions.

When I graduated from HLS in 1990, I was one of only a handful of students who opted for public service. I spent 1990 to 1994 as a state prosecutor of street crimes in a big city (fun stuff). I spent 1994 to 1999 as a Navy JAG, of which I am still a member of the reserves (fun stuff). I used the HLS LIPP program to pay off my debts during this 10 year period (not easy, but it worked; and having HLS pay off HLS debt is something worth seeing through). Then, when my student loan debts were gone at the end of 1999, I jumped into corporate America, where I am now holding my 3rd position in 5 years, as an attorney within large corporations (better hours, better work, better pay). Along the way, I have collected a wife, 4 kids, and a dog that hunts better than I do.

So to all of you Raffi’s of the world, I suggest to you: be the master of your own destiny, take some long chances, drink often and heavily, and spend as much time between the sheets with the one you love as possible. Also, a black Labrador will see you through the worst of times.

Yet, in the end, “THE LOVE YOU TAKE IS EQUAL TO THE LOVE YOU MAKE”, AND THE ONLY TIME YOU WILL GET SCREWED, IS WHEN YOU BEND OVER AND ALLOW PEOPLE TO BE CRUEL TO YOU. So, be nice to people, have good humor, and adopt my New Year’s Resolution for 2005, which is “This year, I vow, that other people will be nicer to me.”

God Bless You Raffi.

I am with you at the barricades of change,

Charles FacktorHLS Class of 1990