The Langdelliad: An HLS Epic


A new season has come to HLS. It’s that magical time of year when dead roots, stirred by spring rain, come forth bearing new life. By “dead roots,” of course, I mean “every club, society, and organization on campus” and by “bearing new life” I mean it’s election season.

Yes, that’s right. Remember when you were a kid and all your friends wanted to be astronauts or firefighters, or perhaps ballet dancers? But not you. You wanted to be “dictator of the world.” Then you got a bit older and learned that maybe wasn’t the most socially acceptable career goal. So you tried to hide it. I mean, sure, you might have ran for senior class president, but that was totally just because you were excited about planning the prom. And when you got that double major in political science and history it was because “a basic liberal arts degree is really versatile and can take you in a lot of directions.” Then you changed the subject before someone asked “What directions?” and you were forced to reply “fast food service or law school.”

But apply to law school you did, pretending you wanted to learn how to “help the poor” or “fight crime” or “make already rich people get even richer for the modest sum of $145,000 per year plus bonus.” Your decision had absolutely nothing to do with the fact that all the characters on the West Wing went to law school, and look how they turned out.

But we’re among friends here, guys. (And nobody reads the Record anyway.) We can admit it. Deep in your chest, beats the heart of a demagogue. You lust for raw, unadulterated power, and it’s mixed with the never ending need for external validation that got you here in the first place.

And what better, more socially acceptable way to act upon that lust than seeking a board position on everything from the Journal of Law and Television Sitcom Spin-offs to the Victims of Evil Hamsters Legal Assistance Project? You’ll get recognition, you’ll get power, you’ll even get a line on your resume. If you’re very, very lucky, you might even get minions to carry out your evil bidding (colloquially, we call these “subciters”).

Unfortunately, while noble in and of themselves, these social pressures create a titanic battle of the wills. Students clash, groups clash, and all the while we’re all forced to pretend we have nothing but respect for each other. Personally, I like to imagine these epic battles play out like, well, epic battles.

The Langdelliad

Sing, O Goddess, of the anger of the Editor-in-Chief of the Harvard Ancient Weaponry Law Journal who sent out his warriors in battle early one Saturday morning to search out obscure sources and rescue them from their captivity in the microfiche room, and to search out instances where See, e.g. was used instead of See, generally and destroy them. The general of his armies, an article editor, delegated to his junior line editor one very important task: to seize a table in the fourth floor reference room close to the stacks with the sources and to hold it.

But the junior line editor was weak. He was tempted from his post by coffee and bagels, and in its place he left naught but a sign saying “Reserved: Harvard Ancient Weaponry Law Journal Subcite – 11AM-2PM.”

In his absence, the Journal of Law and Machiavellian Political Plotting (in no way associated with the HLS Federalist Society) came upon the table in the library close to the shelves with the sources and seized it and held it as their own. The junior line editor returned with his troops, and a mighty battle ensued in which each article editor did glare at the other for 15 seconds. Possibly even 30.

And in the end, the Journal of Law and Machiavellian Political Plotting was forced to yield to the Reserved sign, even though, as they pointed out, Langdell has no actual policies about reserving tables. But still, the junior line editor was disgraced, and to this day, has not managed to obtain an editorial board position with which to impress to gods of Mt. Olympus, also known as Circuit Court Judges. Thus his failure that day had consequences wide and far-reaching: he was forced to accept a district court clerkship.

Alright, perhaps “epic” isn’t quite carrying the day. Which is not to say we should deny the seething undercurrent of emotions that go into our pursuits. So, I say to you: win! fight! seize! Because while being the Executive Vice-President of Training and Recruitment of the Harvard Legal Aid Society and Laundromat won’t give you quite the power you’ve always dreamed of, but will give you the power to compel your classmates’ attendance at mandatory trainings about dryer lint. And as the ancient gods know, you have to start somewhere.

Katie Mapes, 1L, thinks people need to respect “Reserved” signs on tables in the Reference Room.

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