Category Archives: Opinion

Commentary by members of the Harvard Law community.

From the Print Edition / Opinion  /  April 18, 2014  / 

End the Prison-Industrial Complex

There are plenty of legitimate reasons to send someone to prison— deterrence, incapacitation, rehabilitation and so on—but profit is not among them. Unfortunately, it is an obscenely large reason that American prisons today house more inmates than any other country on this planet. If that fact doesn’t trouble you, it should. A nation that prides itself on freedom is, paradoxically, the world’s largest jailer. By some measures, the American incarceration rate is a whopping 743 per 100,000, well above the second biggest jailer’s (Russia, at 577). Twenty-five percent of the world’s inmates are American. There are perhaps more prisoners in America than in all of Europe—a continent with twice our population. While there are numerous culprits behind our burgeoning prison population, especially draconian sentences for nonviolent drug offenses, the most troubling by far is an increasingly privatized prison system that makes money off rampant criminalization and the hiking up of … Continue reading

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From the Print Edition / Opinion  /  April 18, 2014  / 

An Open Letter to Jim Yong Kim Re: Divestment from Fossil Fuels

Jim Yong Kim President, World Bank Dear Dr. Kim: We write to thank you on behalf of Divest Harvard, a group of students calling for Harvard University to divest its endowment holdings in fossil fuel companies. In your remarks at the Davos World Economic Forum in January, you gave hope, encouragement, and inspiration to the thousands of students across America working to address climate change through divestment. Your speech – which adds to the growing chorus of pro-divestment calls made by prominent figures, such as President Barack Obama and Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change – showed great insight and leadership by making clear that climate change is an urgent global crisis requiring immediate and decisive action. Specifically, you said: “This is the year to take action on climate change. There are no more excuses. If we fail, our children and grandchildren will … Continue reading

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From the Print Edition / Opinion  /  April 18, 2014  / 

Why Do We Blame the Poor?

The way we frame issues can make all the difference. A woman is being evicted from her property. She is a single mother and has 5 young children. She lives in subsidized housing. She is facing imminent eviction because her son, who no longer lives with her, was caught engaging in drug-related activity near the property. By the letter of the law, she breached the terms of her lease, and the eviction is legal. The landlord’s attorneys argue that the government should not be providing housing to criminals, to those in the population who do not want to follow the rules. The court rules against the woman. The judgment against her means that she has lost all future ability to live in subsidized housing, and her family may soon be homeless. How do we justify stories like this? How do we accept the legitimacy of the law when it can … Continue reading

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From the Print Edition / Opinion  /  April 18, 2014  / 

Dear 2Ls: One Day’s Work

Dear Harvard Law School Community, We are thrilled to launch the One Day’s Work campaign for the Class of 2015 Fellowship. For those of you who are unfamiliar with One Day’s Work, the concept is simple. Members of the class of 2015 entering the private sector after their second year of law school donate one day’s worth of their summer salary. The money collected will then go to a member of the class of 2015 entering the public sector upon graduation. We have energetically revamped the program over the past few years, because we are confident that it is a meaningful addition to the Harvard Law School community. As you may know, Yale, Berkeley, and other top law schools have similar programs that have been very successful. We want to take this opportunity to tell you why we believe Harvard should have such a program and and why you should … Continue reading

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From the Print Edition / Opinion  /  April 18, 2014  / 

Take the Money: 10 Cool Things About LIPP

1. You don’t have to be “low income” to qualify for LIPP. “LIPP is extremely generous and it’s absolutely livable.” This is a common refrain heard from HLS graduates who use LIPP to repay their student loans. Andrea Saenz (’08), a Clinical Teaching Fellow at Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, said, “I think there’s not enough accurate information out there about how much public interest lawyers make and how we’re not all living on ramen with six roommates.” Because LIPP has no income cap, graduates who earn six figures may still be eligible depending on the amount they borrowed. For example, someone with $126,000 of law school debt (the average for a 2013 HLS graduate) who makes $70,000 in her first year and $91,000 in her tenth year will have more than half of her loan expenses paid by LIPP. 2. LIPP allows for career flexibility. You can enter … Continue reading

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From the Print Edition / Opinion  /  March 27, 2014  / 

Confronting Unjust Immigration and Border Policies in the Arizona Desert

“There is nowhere on Earth like the place where we work. It is beautiful beyond telling: harsh, vast, mountainous, remote, rugged, unforgiving, every cliché you can think of and more. I have been humbled countless times by the incredible selflessness and courage of the people that I have met there, and I have been driven nearly out of my head with rage at the utterly heartless economic and political system that drives people to such lengths in order to provide for their families.” – No More Deaths Volunteer This Spring Break, eight Harvard Law students and clinicians travelled to the U.S.-Mexico border to do humanitarian work with No More Deaths. When we signed up, we knew the operation was contentious. We glossed over the details with our parents and felt the need to justify the work we would be doing to our law school friends. For, border policy has been … Continue reading

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From the Print Edition / Opinion  /  March 27, 2014  / 

HLS Lambda Statement on Scott Lively’s Recent Appearance at HLS

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This Thursday afternoon, HLS Lambda received notification from Harvard administrators that Scott Lively would be coming to speak at the gubernatorial Forum on Criminal Justice at Harvard Law School. Scott Lively is a candidate for governor of Massachusetts. He played an instrumental role in the promotion of Uganda’s 2014 Anti-Homosexuality Act, which penalizes consensual same-sex sexual activity with life imprisonment. He has also expressed support for Russia’s recent anti- LGBTQ “propaganda” legislation. Throughout the forum, Lively repeatedly articulated a viewpoint that we find homophobic, racist, and sexist. We believe it is a moral stain on our community that a person with such views could be running for governor of Massachusetts. Fortunately, because of the advance notice we had received from Harvard administrators earlier in the day, we were able to organize a protest. We distributed literature relaying Lively’s stated views and held signs throughout the event. We were heartened when … Continue reading

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From the Print Edition / Opinion  /  March 27, 2014  / 

Confronting the Costs of a Criminal Record

During spring break, a group of us volunteered at the Legal Advocacy and Resource Center (LARC) of Greater Boston Legal Services. We assisted the organization with its CORI project and guided clients through the process of getting convictions and non-convictions on their criminal records sealed. For certain clients, we conducted preliminary intake interviews and provided information as to how they could obtain their CORI records. For those who did not have a copy at hand, we helped them determine which charges could be sealed, dependent on time period limitations and the nature of a given conviction or non-conviction. We also explained to them which procedure would be the most appropriate—either by mail (which would require a Petition to Seal 100A form to be mailed to the Office of the Commissioner of Probation) or in court (which would require a court petition, a Motion to Seal 100C form, and an affidavit). … Continue reading

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From the Print Edition / Opinion  /  March 27, 2014  / 

Social Enterprise Comes to Harvard Law School

Like a lot of the other students here, we came to Harvard Law School to learn how the law can be utilized to create meaningful social change. Luckily, HLS is a great place to do just that. In our second semester at HLS, we discovered an up and coming student-led organization aimed at bridging the gap between the private and public sectors: the Social Enterprise Law Association (SELA), founded by 1Ls, Bea Hinton and Thea Sebastian. SELA provides a space for students to transform their ideas into initiatives by building a pipeline for those eager to apply their newfound legal skills to build meaningful careers. SELA focuses primarily on discovering innovative ways to use the law as a tool to implement social change by acting as a bridge builder among existing communities at HLS. SELA offers Harvard Law students the opportunity to learn from, and work with, prominent members of … Continue reading

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From the Print Edition / Opinion  /  March 6, 2014  / 

Section Six Thanks Professor Hanson

Earlier this year, three members of Section Six—Jessica Ranucci, Sara Murphy, and Sean Cuddihy—wrote an article in support of Professor Jon Hanson’s approach to legal education. “We believe that in the current 1L curriculum there is insufficient focus on the implications and motivations of the arguments we make and evaluate,” they wrote. “Professor Hanson is one of the few 1L instructors to focus squarely and consistently on filling this educational gap.” Here, other members of Section Six would like to add their support. Forty members of Section Six agreed to share their tributes to Professor Hanson with The Harvard Law Record. Excerpts from selected tributes are reprinted below. To Professor Hanson: “Your class and the discussions we had outside of it gave me the belief that I could do something truly valuable with my time in law school and afterwards. Without your influence, I could have easily seen my time … Continue reading

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