Fenno Flys Out


Fenno exited the Hark, dragging his wheely suitcase behind him. Thank God enough of his on-campus interviews had come through that he had been able to jettison the public interest deadwood and schedule himself with a full slate of callbacks for fly-out week.

If only he had had the guts to do what that other 2L did with Quinn and tell them point blank at the interview that he would accept if they made him a summer offer. He could spend fly-out week partying by night and nursing his hangover as he went to superfluous interviews and enjoyed long lunches.

Fenno’s reflections were cut short when he walked smack into a large wall that had mysteriously appeared near Pound Hall. He reeled backwards, then glared upwards. What, in God’s name, was going on?

As his vision started to clear, he became aware of a commotion that seemed to be surrounding the wall.

“It is important to evaluate a large representation of the façade at this stage of the project,” Dean Cosgrove was saying loudly. “Besides, our students need to feel like they’re PART OF THIS PROJECT!” She pumped her fist in the air. “Students, come feel the wall,” she ordered.Fenno recoiled. But the snackcart! The DVD library! She was usually so . . . sweet.

Cosgrove stopped exhorting the crowd, and turned to stare in Fenno’s direction. He jumped, but then realized it wasn’t him she was looking at at all. Charlie Nesson strode up from the direction of the Berkman Center, a cape streaming behind him (and not providing, Fenno thought, much of a complement to his turtleneck and corduroys), virtual reality goggles on his head, and stopped, majestically, in front of the façade.

“Virtual reality! Act up!” he shouted, pumping one fist in the air at the students, oddly reminiscent of Dean Cosgrove. Fenno let out a weak cheer. Why not? It seemed like the thing to do. Nesson continued in a more normal tone of voice.

“I not only have a Northwest Corner façade erected in my Second Life domain, I am already teaching classes there. You can join us tomorrow at 3 pm when I will teach you that you will never be better at Poker than a summa cum laude graduate of the Harvard Law School.”

Hah; law firm salaries weren’t high enough to drag Fenno into that poker game. Nesson could call him when New York raised first years to 190. Fenno took advantage of the diversion and slipped past the wall, catching a cab to the airport. He had earned this break.

* * *

A week later, Fenno lay back in 3L Rishi’s balcony hot tub in Deer Valley. He wasn’t sure precisely why Rishi had gotten the Quinn Emanuel-funded suite while he had gotten stuck with an ordinary size room, but he wasn’t complaining, nor did he have any particular desire to ask.

“What did you do this afternoon, Fenno?” Rishi asked him. “I signed up for the mountain hiking, though the zip lining and the hot air balloon ride sounded pretty cool too.”

Fenno shrugged; to be honest, he felt that the fact that he had signed up for the spa day was nobody’s business but his own. He wondered how the firm felt about paying for his use of the mini-bar, then remembered it was Rishi’s room, and reached for a $14 beer.

To be honest, after an exceedingly awkward karaoke night with Kathleen Sullivan in which he had tried to mention neither the California Bar Exam nor, even more difficult, scandalous lesbian affairs among the Stanford faculty, he felt like he deserved a beer. But what irked him most of all was that he hadn’t gotten a Halloween goodie bag with his employment offer.

“Hey, guys? Just want to let you know Kathleen and I will be having a private, hot-tub appellate strategy session in an hour, so you’ll need to be out by then,” said Rishi.

“Really, are you working with Kathleen already?” asked a Texas 2L, “She promised me I could work with her too.” “Me too,” said Fenno. “Is there anyone she hasn’t promised to work with?”

They were stumped. She had promised projects to everyone in the hot tub, and everyone else they knew at the retreat.”So do you know Alan Dershowitz?” piped up a 2L from Chicago, who had just joined them in the hot tub.

The HLS students present rolled their eyes and exchanged glances; peons. Of course they knew him and his 3-page finals. Then Fenno had an idea.

“You know,” he said to the Chicago student, “Harvard has this new online cross-registration program.”

* * *

Back from Deer Valley, Fenno drifted into the Second Life version of Northwest Corner, literally drifted, since he didn’t want his avatar to have to expend any of the energy the laws of nature forced him to expend in real life. He had to admit, this virtual reality thing had a lot of plusses, if he could ignore the fact that there were now several hours of his week he couldn’t admit, to anyone, how he was spending (that is, several more hours).

Inside the virtual student union, virtual Nesson and virtual Dersh held court at poker tables, shuffling cards in total defiance of the laws of gravity. Outside, a line of students from the lesser Ivies, eyes shining with the warm spark of prestige, winded around the building.

“Good morning,” Fenno told the first student in line. “I’m the HLS virtual cross-registration liaison. I’ll take your tuition payment, now.”

God bless the Second Life economy.

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