Search Results for: geng chen

Opinion  /  October 1, 2012  / 

Everything in Life I Learned from TV

2L year is well underway and all I want to do is watch TV. If you’re like me and have a poor ratio of motivation to workload, you might justify your assiduous non-working by telling yourself that the culture you consume is actually educational. I do this all the time. For example: The Good Wife, a.k.a. studying. This is an obvious one. The show is about the law. How else would you figure out the differences in procedural rules between federal court and military court-martial? And the delicious law firm atmosphere! If you’re a 2L like me, headed off to a summer associate position, this show is your primer on law firm politics. “A students make great professors, B students make great judges, C students make partner.” See? There’s a good reason for not studying! Also, apparently it’s really good for your career to make friends with the firm’s investigator. … Continue reading

Opinion  /  September 17, 2012  / 

1Ls: Here’s Some More Unsolicited Advice

Welcome 1Ls! As I’m sure the Dean and your professors have told you many times, congratulations and best wishes for a stimulating, challenging, and transformative year. With many apologies for the lecturing tone, here are three pieces of free advice (with all the caveats that such advice usually brings): 1. Get involved. There are sincere reasons to join a student organization or participate in an extracurricular activity: you believe in a cause, you find the subject matter interesting, or you’re interested in meeting people outside of your section. Then there are the cynical reasons: it looks good your resume, it gives you something to talk about during interviews, or it’s a good way to get outlines and course selection gossip from 2Ls and 3Ls.  All these reasons are valid. What’s not valid is the feeling that you don’t have enough time. Trust me, you have time. Most of these activities … Continue reading

Opinion  /  April 17, 2012  / 

The Most Effective Class at HLS

The most important skill to learn during 1L year is how to argue both sides of an issue. It is the foundation of successfully analyzing a client’s legal position in a memo, preparing for Ames advocacy and performing well on issue spotter exams with their built-in uncertainties. This is a difficult skill to implement. People quickly become entrenched in even arbitrarily-assigned positions. I would be hard-pressed to switch allegiances in my LRW brief after a semester of viewing the world as the partisan for one side, and I am not the only one of my classmates convinced of the legal superiority of my position. This principle goes beyond law school. Political views are apparently correlated with psychological traits, which means that your beliefs arise, at least partially, from your “openness to experience” or your “need for cognitive closure.” As someone who prefers a world where conclusions are based on facts … Continue reading

Opinion  /  April 3, 2012  / 

Professional Ethics

What does it mean to behave ethically as a lawyer? A few weeks ago, I attended an event sponsored by the new Harvard Law School “Living Well in the Law” program. It was a talk by Harvard psychologist Professor Howard Gardner on what constitutes “good work” in the law. He posed an interesting question to the audience, based on a real-life ethical dilemma faced by one of his research subjects. The actual issue is too complicated to describe here, but what it boiled down to whether a young associate, despite complying precisely with the rules of legal ethics, nonetheless behaved immorally by indirectly misleading an important partner at his firm over a potential client conflict. His lie of omission got him a lucrative account, but at the cost of his professional relationship with the partner. Nonetheless, he was told by other colleagues that he had behaved properly. The audience at … Continue reading

Opinion  /  March 20, 2012  / 

Transparency, Big and Small

The first semester of law school is supposed to be the hardest. Students are thrown in to sink or swim, though no one knows until late January if they’re actually drowning or if it just feels that way. But I would suggest that second semester presents its own challenges. Like a new relationship after the honeymoon phase, the rush of excitement has worn off, and each party starts to see the annoying habits of the other. Harvard Law School, I’m afraid that the glamour has worn thin. I have found myself complaining about many things, mostly petty, a few more substantive. On the former end, why did the free coffee in Lewis dry up? Why isn’t the computer lab in Wasserstein open 24 hours? Sometimes, I just don’t have time to hike over to Langdell to get something printed. On the more substantive side, why is on-campus housing so overpriced? … Continue reading

Opinion  /  February 28, 2012  / 

We Can Handle the Truth (About Grades)

We live submerged in information. Even when we don’t know it, we know how to get it. Anything is a Google search away. Arguments over facts still happen, but at least I, and my smart phone, know how to bring them to a quick and decisive end. I have had two great frustrations at Harvard Law School. Like many of my classmates, I arrived here last August with a little anxiety, a lot of pride, and overwhelmed awe at my presence at this institution. This was Harvard. I am the first in my family. In my excitement to be here at the best, among the best, I thought that everything would be the best. My first great frustration was finding that Harvard is a bureaucracy like any other large institution, and like its august companions, it keeps its secrets. Issues that seem to be fundamentally important in an academic environment … Continue reading