Category Archives: News

From the Print Edition / News  /  February 24, 2015  / 

Harvard Students Go to Court Over Climate Change

Harvard students went to court on February 20th to enjoin the Harvard Corporation’s investments in oil, gas, and coal companies. The students, members of the Harvard Climate Justice Coalition, argued in their complaint that these investments violate the University’s public charitable duties. The plaintiffs also brought suit on behalf of future generations, arguing that the Corporation knowingly funds business activities that cause severe and irreparable harm to future generations and that it should therefore be liable in tort. The defendants filed motions to dismiss the complaint, which were the subject of last Friday’s hearing. The Corporation, represented by counsel from Foley Hoag, argued that principles of fiduciary discretion give it broad latitude to invest in any industry so long as it is profitable to do so, and that all such decisions should be shielded from judicial scrutiny. The plaintiffs appeared pro se, arguing that their special interest in the well … Continue reading

From the Print Edition / News  /  February 24, 2015  / 

Ndaba Mandela, Nelson Mandela’s Grandson, Speaks at Harvard Law School

Last week, Professor Charles Ogletree’s ‘Understanding Mandela’ class welcomed guest speaker Ndaba Mandela, Nelson Mandela’s grandson, to campus. Ndaba Mandela offered a candid look into his grandfather’s legacy—and also how he was creating his own with the Africa Rising Foundation. “For him, it was really important that everyone who lived in South Africa felt like a South African,” Ndaba Mandela said of the country’s former president. He remembers meeting the anti-apartheid leader for the first time when he was 8 years old: his parents told him he was going to meet his grandfather in jail. Amidst negotiations with the government, Nelson Mandela had been transferred to a private house inside Victor Verster Prison. Ndaba Mandela recalled that the house was nice, and after leaving he even told his parents that he too wanted to go to jail when he grows up. Weeks later, Nelson Mandela was released from prison after … Continue reading

From the Print Edition / News  /  February 12, 2015  / 

Journal on Legislation Brings Gun Policy Discussion to Harvard Law School

The Harvard Journal on Legislation’s 2015 Symposium, “Firearms in America: Safety and Liberty,” took place on campus February 10 and 11. The event brought together leaders on both sides of the matter to debate issues surrounding gun policy in the United States. “As members of the HLS community, it is important for students, faculty, and everyone else to have the opportunity to engage in challenging discussions about issues that are significant not only to our community but to others throughout the nation,” said Kellen Wittkop, who chaired the JOL Symposium with 2L Colin Ross. “This event is one of those opportunities, and the Journal on Legislation is dedicated to providing a forum for the community to hear different perspectives on the issue of firearm policy while being able to ask questions of individuals working in this policy area.” Wednesday’s panel, “Grappling with Crime and Mass Shootings in Today’s Gun Landscape,” … Continue reading

From the Print Edition / News  /  January 30, 2015  / 

HLS Title IX Procedures Altered After Finding of Violation by Department of Education

In response to a finding by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) that the law school was in violation of Title IX, HLS has adopted updated procedures. OCR is expected to comment by Feb. 6, 2015, though Dean Martha Minow has expressed her confidence that the new policies are now in compliance with federal regulations based on communications with the Department of Education’s regional office. Over the past several months, a committee of HLS faculty members modified the law school’s interim procedures. According to Professor John Coates, who was asked by Dean Minow to chair the committee, these updated procedures incorporate OCR’s recommendations, including the utilization of a “preponderance of evidence” standard, and also a provision that a person reporting will not be asked to reach a resolution directly with the accused party. Last fall, the university-wide policy was met with resistance from students on campus … Continue reading

From the Print Edition / News  /  November 6, 2014  / 

Professor Lesli Bisgould on Re-Examining Our Moral Schizophrenia on Animals

John Stuart Mill wrote that the successful implementation of new ideas happens in three stages. New ideas are ridiculed, then discussed, and finally adopted. Recently the Student Animal Legal Defense Fund, led by guest Professor Lesli Bisgould, proved that we are in the second stage by hosting a discussion on the problem of animal rights (or the lack thereof) in our legal code. The event opened with a chilling story of a Canadian legal case. Two boys abducted a neighbor’s pet cat and proceeded to disembowel and torture the animal for over 15 minutes before finally allowing the creature to die. The boys were arrested and tried in court for misdemeanor mischief and animal cruelty. Interestingly enough, the mischief offenses carried much graver penalties than the animal cruelty solely because the cat was a household pet. Indeed, the destruction of a neighbor’s property was the most damning offense for which … Continue reading

From the Print Edition / News  /  October 22, 2014  / 

HLS Professors Challenge Harvard’s Title IX Policy

Last week, the Boston Globe published an open letter written by 28 current and retired members of the HLS faculty, which requested that Harvard University reconsider its Title IX guidelines. The letter expressed apprehension at both the development process and content of the university-wide policy. The concerns with the creation of the current university-wide policy are threefold: first, the development process was secret and failed to involve a broad group of faculty; second, the resulting policy prioritized over-compliance with the Department of Education Office for Civil Rights (OCR) above fair and effective procedures that best serve the Harvard community; and, third, the policy destroyed the individual schools’ autonomy to make disciplinary decisions for their respective students. “There was no community buy-in—the university-wide policy was developed by a secret committee,” said Professor Janet Halley, who has been writing about sexual harassment for more than 15 years. “There are clear issues with … Continue reading

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

Title IX Could Mean Changes for HLS

Harvard has developed two sets of rules applicable to law students in response to regulations and guidance documents issued by the Federal Department of Education concerning Title IX, the federal law that guarantees gender equity in education. The first is the policy and procedures adopted by Harvard University for all members of the Harvard community, known as the HU Policy and HU Procedures, to manage sexual harassment allegations against students. The HU Procedures designate a central University office called the Office for Sexual and Gender-Based Dispute Resolution (ODR) to handle allegations of sexual harassment. Under the management of University’s Title IX Officer, Mia Karvonides, ODR’s role is to investigate formal complaints of sexual harassment made against students, including those at the law school. ODR sends its findings of fact to the HLS Ad Board, which will use that report, along with additional submissions from the complainant and respondent, to decide what … Continue reading

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

Public Interest Auction Raises Money for SPIF

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On only one night per year is it possible for a student to buy a movie night with Dean Minow, a champagne reception with Professor Mann, or a cocktail tasting with Climenko Fellow Epps. At the 2014 Harvard Law School Public Interest Auction, which took place on April 2, fierce auction bidders won these and many other prizes donated by alumni, professors, firms, and businesses. Since 1994, the annual Harvard Law School Public Interest Auction has raised money for Summer Public Interest Funding (SPIF). The mission of SPIF is to make it possible for students to accept unpaid or underpaid summer employment in non-profit, government, NGO, IGO, or approved private public interest firm settings. During the summer of 2013, 467 Harvard Law students received SPIF funding totaling approximately $2 million. This year’s auction, titled “All Bids On Deck,” had a nautical theme. Volunteers wearing sailor hats lined the hallways of … Continue reading

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

TEDx Comes to Harvard Law

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On Saturday, April 12, nine students and practitioners presented about the role of law in social change. Their topics covered a range of issues, each brought together by a common thread—improving the understanding of how Harvard students can be agents of social change. The event was hosted by the HLS Law and Social Change Program, which seeks to foster a strong community of public interest students while challenging the ways students use their law degrees to implement social change in the real world. “We wanted to showcase the wealth of perspectives and experiences of Harvard students and Boston practitioners with using law to shape social change,” said Scott Hochberg, Law and Social Change student fellow. “Each speaker went through a lengthy application and audition process, and we were able to include talks that covered a wide range of topics and perspectives. We hope the conference will spark discussions that challenge … Continue reading

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

Diversity Includes Disability

Students at Harvard Law and elsewhere possess disabilities, visible and invisible, yet these disabilities are more often than not a source of strength and lawyers should be more cognizant of just how varied, valuable, and diverse persons with disabilities (PwDs) are. That was just one message of many discussed at a “Diversity and Disability” panel last Friday. The event featured four speakers united by a desire to de-stigmatize disabilities. It was co-sponsored by HL Central, the Student Mental Health Association (SMHA), and the Black Law Students Association (BLSA), and organized by 1L Elisa Dun, who put the panel together through funds she received after winning this year’s TJ Duane Grant competition. Some attendees were surprised to learn from Lime Connect President and CEO Susan Lang that at least one in ten college-aged students have disabilities. According to panelist Tiffany Yu, one reason for this is the effect of stigma: While … Continue reading