Letter: Opportunities to work with famous professors plentiful

BY

Re: “Despite HLS’ Rise, It’s a Terrible Time to be a 2L,” (page 4, Oct. 30):

You assert that despite the school’s many nationally known professors “[n]ot every student gets a chance to work with these high profile hires.” The editorial maintains that this is because of the school’s “challenging course registration system and 1L classes that are still far larger than Yale’s.” I disagree with your assumption that the way to “work with” HLS faculty is to take a class with them. Relying on your assumption may prevent some students from taking the most effective step towards developing meaningful relationships with the professors on campus.

Being in a class with a professor is not the only way-or even the best way-to “work with” that professor. There are a variety of paths to engage professors, almost all of whom are interested in helping and guiding students, including volunteering to be a research assistant, asking to discuss potential paper topics or reading lists, or just talking with that professor about interesting research he or she is conducting. Any of those activities can take start during a professor’s office hours. While it can be intimidating to walk into the offices of some of HLS’ most famous faculty, it should be no less (or only marginally less) intimidating to walk in as a student in class rather than a general HLS student with something to talk about.

So I ask the readership of the Record this question: If you feel that you do not have the chance to work with a particular HLS faculty member, have you gone to that professor’s office hours? The burden is sometimes on us, as students, to tap into the resources around us. Obviously not all professors will always have time to help with every paper, project, or question, but I think most will have the time to help with most.

If you believe I’m wrong, then I encourage you to email the student government (studentgov@law.harvard.edu) to let us know your experience so that we can begin thinking about how to improve the situation.

Remember that what you work on with an HLS professor is up to you-and so is whether or not you work with them at all. The ball is in your court.

David K. Kessler ’09
Student Government President

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