Into the sunset

BY GEORGE HICKS

Writing a newspaper column is about the most self-indulgent activity there is. Well, actually, the second-most. The most indulgent is writing a farewell column. It carries with it two self-important implications: (1) you think people actually read your column and are keenly anticipating your final thoughts; and (2) you think you have such ponderous concluding words that the entire world has to hear them as your send-off. In my case, both of these propositions are obviously false. Nobody reads the Record, and I have nothing of value to say. Nevertheless, it’s either this or turning back to my 3L paper, so the choice is clear. And on that note…

So long to all the faculty. From the Manley Hudson Professor of Law to the Sinclair Armstrong Assistant Professor of International, Foreign, and Comparative Law to the Nomura Professor of International Finance Systems, your names will be forever etched in my memory. And don’t get me started about the Bennett Boskey Professor of Law – he makes the Stanley S. Surrey Professor of Law look like the Carl F. Schipper, Jr. Professor of Law. Yeah, you know what I’m talking about! On a bit more mature note, I honestly do remain as astounded by the Harvard Law School faculty today as I was the first semester of my 1L year. I don’t know what sixth dimension their minds work in, but it’s a level of brilliance that, sadly, will not soon be encountered in the real world. I’m very grateful for them. And, amazingly, it’s only getting better. If you’ve seen the list of people who have recently received tenure, you realize that the HLS faculty is beginning to resemble the 1927 New York Yankees, the 1972 Miami Dolphins, and the 1996 Chicago Bulls put together. Chalk it up to Dean Kagan, increased resources, or the obvious lure of the law school’s stunning architecture, but remarkable developments are taking place with faculty hiring. I look forward to returning someday as Spare Change Guy Lecturer on Cramming for Finals.

Adieu to wonderful friends at the law school. I never thought I could be friends with anyone like my high school friends; then I met my college friends. I never thought I could be friends with anyone like my college friends; then I met you. Through thick and thin, from people I met during orientation in the basement of Lincoln’s Inn to people I met barely two months ago in the Parody, I have been so incredibly impressed and touched by every one of you. I know it is fashionable to call Harvard Law School students arrogant, apathetic, geeky, neurotic, or intense. But I prefer instead to call them enthusiastic, generous, dedicated, brilliant, and witty, for this has been my experience with all of you. It’s a shame we’ll be facing off against each other in court or at the bargaining table someday, but that shouldn’t stop us from going out afterwards for a few drinks. I won’t tell my client if you won’t tell yours.

Arrivederci to the Parody, to the Record, to the Federalist Society, and to all the other groups on campus that provided vitally refreshing interludes within the relative monotony of my legal education. These activities have been the source of so many incredible friendships, but even more so, they, and all student organizations, are the fount of so much of what enriches daily life here. Law is great and all, but hey everyone, guess what you’ll be doing for the next sixty years of your life? Law. In the meantime, while you’re in school, live the boundless existence. Write, sing, act, dance, play, eat, drink, have some FUN in your life. Be active. Be vigorous. Be involved. Every one of the organizations on this campus plays a valuable role in enhancing the campus environment. Even you, ACS (sorry, couldn’t resist). So take advantage of them. And to all the people who make these groups run, thank you for your hard work and for making this place even better.

Toodle-oo to the Harvard Law Review. For tens of thousands of years, humanity struggled to avoid the daily threat of extinction in the face of widespread starvation, rampant disease, and man-eating tigers so that we might someday be able to spend hours cooped up in a little house on the edge of campus arguing over whether the phrase “res judicata” should be italicized. I’m just kidding, of course; we don’t argue over that. The rule is quite clearly established in the Bluebook (p. 50. No italics.). In all seriousness, I’ve never encountered as stimulating an intellectual environment as the Law Review, and I haven’t engaged in such mind-expanding discussions at three in the morning since college. If only we had changed our voice mail to the “A-Team” theme and tried to make our own beer, then it would have definitely been like college. Regardless, I’ll say to every 1L reading this who doesn’t think the Law Review is for him or her the same thing Professor Rosenberg said to me my 1L year: you must try out for the Review. It’s one week of your life, with potential dividends beyond what you could imagine. So do it.

Farewell to Boston. When I first arrived here as an undergrad in the fall of 1995, the city was a mishmash of maddening construction zones and nonsensical road detours, all dictated by a massive urban regeneration project that was estimated to cost $8 billion. Of course, much has changed. The massive urban regeneration project is now estimated to cost $14.1 billion. And I think there’s a new tunnel. Or something. And the city still takes the cake in terms of laughably bad local television commercials, though don’t even try to tell me you don’t sing along with the Bernie & Phyl’s jingle. Quality, comfort, and price – you know, now that I think about it, that is nice. It really is. Fortunately, the Sox finally won the big one; unfortunately, at their current every-86-years clip, this means they’ll win the next one just about the time the city finishes another tunnel.

Adios to Harvard Square. Ten years ago, here are some of the late, great establishments you could have frequented in the Square, with their current replacements in parentheses: The Tasty (first an Abercrombie & Fitch, now Citizens Bank), the Wursthaus (Finagle a Bagel), One Potato Two Potato (first the Old Grafton Street, now Cambridge Savings Bank), Delhi Darbar (Spice), Scoops ‘n’ Beans (9 Tastes), Thai Garden (Daedalus), Sage’s (Sprint PCS), the Army-Navy Surplus Outlet (T-Mobile), Skewers (vacant), the Harvard Provision Company (“The Pro,” your one stop underage liquor-buying shop – vacant), Ma Soba (Finale), the House of Blues (Brother Jimmy’s), Grendel’s (UpStairs on the Square – and yes, this is different from Grendel’s Den), the Bow and Arrow (the new Grafton Street), and the Crimson Sports Grille (Redline). And that’s just a short list. So on the downside, it is likely that, by the time we return for our reunions, many of our present-day haunts will have fallen victim to the same unyielding progress that has wiped out so much past Harvard Square charm. On the upside, the cellphone and banking service needs of future generations of students will be met in perpetuity. And The Kong still refuses to die, God bless its sketchy soul.

Finally, goodbye to Harvard Law School. From the moment I set foot on its serene campus, from the instant I gazed upon its majestic edifices, from the second I first walked its storied hallways, one thought, and one thought only, occupied my mind: “What’s the combination to the bathroom?” This was usually closely followed by: “Why exactly is there a lock on this bathroom?” and “Aren’t there much more publicly accessible bathrooms on campus without locks? I don’t understand why this bathroom in particular has to have a lock.” Three years later, I still have no answers to these questions. But I do know this, which I mentioned earlier in the year and reiterate now with a reminder that I am not Dean Kagan’s shill: Harvard Law School has never been better.

Really. 1Ls and 2Ls, you are experiencing the Pax Romana of Harvard Law School. As part of my 3L paper research, I had the unfortunate pleasure of reading, quite liter
ally, every copy of the Record since 1968. I also had the much more enjoyable task of speaking with nearly twenty current professors about their time here. And what I learned from my research is that this place has gone through a lot of drama. I mean, a LOT of drama. Most of the last 25 years of the school can be summed up as follows: everyone hated everyone. And yet for the most part, it’s all over. Professors are happy. The administration is happy. Students are, I hope, happy. But don’t take it for granted. Over the summer, learn about the history of this place. It’s fascinating. Read Pinstripes & Pearls, High Citadel, Broken Contract, Poisoned Ivy – they are all page-turners, half histories and half gossip rags. Return next year with a renewed appreciation for the current strong state of Harvard Law and the unparalleled opportunities that the law school offers. And take advantage of them. All of them. I mean it. You’ll be glad you did.

And while you’re at it, please, seriously, tell me the combination to the bathroom. I can’t hold it much longer.

Happy trails, everyone.

George Hicks is a 3L.

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