BY CHARITY BONO
As part of its continuing campaign to encourage students and graduates to pursue careers in public interest, the law school held a “Thank You For Not Being Evil” ceremony last Wednesday recognizing graduates who chose to take jobs with employers who are not primarily dedicated to destroying weaker businesses, poor people, or the environment.
“You,” Dean Kagan told the assembled crowd, “are exemplifying what this law school is all about: not actively working to make the world a worse place. You should be proud of yourselves for bucking peer pressure and institutional inertia and instead making a courageous choice to live up to your own ideals and the bare minimum standards of human decency.”
In all, some 20 graduates coming from diverse fields such as immigration, family law, and bankruptcy law were honored. “Receiving the award was actually a huge surprise,” said Alexandra Dupree, ’03. “I mean, I work for a small firm that does family law work, and I feel pretty good about what I’m doing most days, but I was really pleased that the law school felt that my general lack of malevolence towards humanity was worthy of special recognition.”
Some students and graduates, however, argued that the awards sent the wrong message to students. “The law school’s insistence on demonizing – in this case, almost literally – those of its students who go into private practice is disheartening,” said one 3L, who will pursue a career in corporate law.
“Really,” he continued, “some of us are just really interested in high powered finance deals and spending our weekend time pouring over detailed financial statements. We don’t deserve to be judged by the law school for this.”
In the weeks leading up to the awards, students were asked to nominate award winners by e-mail. Each student at the law school received an average of 87 messages urging them to submit nominations, and some students commented that these messages appeared “increasingly desperate” in tone.
“The first message just asked us to send names,” said 1L Tim Jeffries. “And then they started telling us that it was ‘VERY IMPORTANT’ that ‘EVERYONE in the HLS community participate.’ With those capitals and everything. It was bizarre!”
The administration declined to reveal how many nominations were received, and stated only that they were pleased with the turnout at the ceremony. Administrators also declined to comment on rumors that one prominent law school graduate had been dropped from the list of award winners at the last minute due to “excessive evil behavior.”