Category Archives: Opinion

Commentary by members of the Harvard Law community.

Opinion  /  October 12, 2014  / 

Why We Are Going to Ferguson This Weekend

Many people have asked why a group of Harvard students are headed to Ferguson over fall break. We ourselves each spent a significant amount of time thinking through this decision—thinking through why we, Harvard students and many of us not students of color, should decide to drive 18 hours to a community we are not from. We all worried about seeming like we were coopting someone else’s struggle, or that a weekend trip just wasn’t enough to effectively support change. To articulate our decision, and share our initial reflections, here is our attempt at a collective response. In some ways, our decision to go to Ferguson was very simple: it was about solidarity. A few weeks ago, local organizers put out a call for people from across the country to come show their support for a local community that has been mobilizing and organizing for two months through a “Weekend … Continue reading

From the Print Edition / Opinion  /  October 3, 2014  / 

How Is Harvard Law School Spending Your Tuition?

Of all the problems in the world that need addressing, law school tuition hikes at Harvard Law School are perhaps the least pressing (See generally my previous article). As the Good Book says, where your treasure is, there will your heart be also, and since your average HLS graduate leaves with $123,673 worth of treasure outstanding [1], I’d say this is a question near and dear to our hearts. Increases in law school tuition are by no means news, but after last year’s hikes I was left with a burning question. Where is all of this extra money going? Since 2009-2010, law school tuition has increased from $43900 [2] to $54850 today, an increase of $6179 per student after adjusting for inflation. [3] With a total of 1546 JD students, that works out to at least $8,406,405. [4] So what is Harvard Law doing with the additional $8,400,000? [5] Gnawed … Continue reading

From the Print Edition / Opinion  /  October 3, 2014  / 

In Response to Bill Barlow’s “BigLaw” Article

Bill Barlow’s recent article attempts to persuade his fellow students (and perhaps himself) that going into BigLaw is the most effective way to “save the world.” His definition of saving (or, perhaps more accurately, $aving) the world seems to be making as much money as possible and then donating much of it to charity. Under Bill’s view, it is how you spend your money, not your time and talents, that matters. Bill is absolutely right that distributional issues lie at the core of social justice efforts. But he is wrong that individual, voluntary wealth redistribution is the answer. The answer is the systematic redistribution of power and privilege. This is the work that public interest lawyers do. As a BigLaw associate, your money can buy inhalers for children in low-income communities of color whose lungs are filled with the pollution pumped out by the coal plants built in their backyards. … Continue reading

From the Print Edition / Opinion  /  October 3, 2014  / 

In Solidarity with Hong Kong Protestors

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On September 24th, students in Hong Kong began boycotting their classes and kickstarted a mass civil disobedience campaign. The students were outraged at the Chinese government’s decision in August to impose limits on Hong Kong people’s voting rights. After initially promising democratic elections with universal suffrage, Beijing announced that all candidates for the Chief Executive of Hong Kong would have to be pre-approved by what is essentially a pro-China nominating committee. In other words, Hong Kong residents will only be able to vote from among pre-selected candidates chosen for their loyalty to Beijing. Not only does this contradict international standards for democratic elections, but it shows Beijing’s reluctance to relinquish political power to the genuine will of the Hong Kong people. Indicatively, upon rejecting open nominations for electing the next Chief Executive of Hong Kong, Li Fei—the deputy secretary general of the National People’s Congress’ Standing Committee—remarked that “[m]any Hong … Continue reading

From the Print Edition / Opinion  /  October 3, 2014  / 

Law Journals: Full of Sound and Fury, Signifying Nothing

“Which journals are you interested in?” It’s a question on 1L lips in recent weeks (when we’re not talking about class or where to get drinks after class). It’s also a question that presumes everyone is or should be involved in at least one journal. Now, journals here seem to have mostly grown to include three parts: affinity groups, blogs, and the academic journal itself. I want to focus on the last element here, which still seems to be their core: the “journal” part of a journal. Is there really any reason for a 1L to get involved in producing a journal, especially at a subciting level? Many of the explanations I hear (e.g., “They’re a good place to meet people outside of your section”) apply to the “affinity group” part of a journal far better than the “subciting” part of a journal. Others beg the question (e.g., “You could … Continue reading

From the Print Edition / Opinion  /  October 3, 2014  / 

The People’s Climate March: What Now?

Last week several Harvard Law School students headed to New York City for the People’s Climate March, the largest climate protest in history. We joined around 400,000 activists and demonstrators from around the world demanding action to address global warming. The following day, a few Harvard students joined Flood Wall Street, an unsuccessful attempt to shut down the New York Stock Exchange in the hopes of accelerating such action. These demonstrations are sure to take their place in history as significant, if minor, first steps in the growth of a popular climate movement. Global warming, which disproportionately affects the weakest and poorest, is caused by the burning of fossil fuels; our fossil fuel addiction is fostered and enforced by the world’s strongest and richest. As the failure of institutional politics or market mechanisms to address the climate crisis becomes ever more apparent, environmental activism will become increasingly aligned with radical … Continue reading

From the Print Edition / Opinion  /  October 3, 2014  / 

Cracking Down on Fashion Knockoffs and Copycats

Upon hearing the word(s) “fashion designer,” one rather swiftly, if not ineluctably, presumes that the individual bearing this title is creative and an artist. Thus, one would assume that such artists’ creations would be protected from infringement by law. Yet under the current U.S. legal regime, this is not the case. Unlike other art forms like photography, sculpture, or even architecture, fashion designs do not receive copyright protection. While logos and some distinctive patterns may obtain recognition under trade dress or trademark laws, the overall design of a garment or accessory cannot be “owned” by a designer. This lack of protection stifles creativity in the fashion industry, causing many designers to sacrifice ingenuity for the assurance that their items will not be copied (best seen in repetitive logo-bearing designs like the Louis Vuitton Monogram print). Similarly, entry-level fashion designers cannot claim ownership of an original work and often fear replication … Continue reading

From the Print Edition / Opinion  /  September 19, 2014  / 

From Law School to State Politics

Some days the best I could do was rush. Interstate 40, the highway that runs east to west through North Carolina, became a second home during the afternoons that I left Civil Procedure and made my way to the state capital for Democratic Party meetings. Balancing the workload of a law student with the demands of public service is not an easy task; it is, however, one that far too few attempt. Deciding to go to law school was a step in a journey that began years before. During college I directed Heller Service Corps, one of the nation’s largest collegiate service organizations. While working with local service partners, I saw the great impact made by attorneys in shaping civic culture. Later, when working for Congressman Mike McIntyre (D-NC), himself an attorney, I saw firsthand the value of legally trained elected officials. Just this week, I found myself as one … Continue reading

From the Print Edition / Opinion  /  September 19, 2014  / 

Want to Save the World? Do BigLaw!

For people systematically chosen for being able to root out and analyze the rationality of arguments, lawyers are pitifully bad at being reasonable. Let us look, for instance, at the current theories about what to do with your law degree. (1) Become a Corporate Lawyer at a Law Firm. By far the most popular choice, but which no one wants to talk about when inspiring you about to change the world. Most people take this, make a lot of money, and spend it on themselves buying big cars, big apartments, big diamonds, and a host of other things that will never make you happy in life. (2) Become a Public Interest Lawyer. Not nearly as common, yet popular culture has induced the notion that this is nobler than being a corporate sell out by going the law firm route. (3) Become a Government Lawyer. A nice balance between the two, … Continue reading

From the Print Edition / Opinion  /  September 19, 2014  / 

In Response to “Want to Save the World? Do BigLaw!”

Tonight, I open my inbox to an email from another Record Editor. In it, he says – “Sima, you may be interested in responding to this article that we’ll be printing.” I hear many baseless, racist, and completely oblivious arguments throughout my day, and try to limit the time I spend feeling angry about them. But this article is so problematic that I think it would be irresponsible of a law school newspaper to publish it on its own. So here is my response. I am not responding to this article because I think the arguments merit the time and energy I will spend writing this up. I am writing because I want students, but most especially ILs, to know that there are incredibly critical, thoughtful, committed, intelligent people at Harvard Law School who have made the choice not to go into corporate law for very important reasons. Yes, it … Continue reading