Without new advisor, OPIA faces crunch

BY YONI ROSENZWEIG

The Office of Public Interest Advising is both desperate for a hire and not going to settle. Though authorized last spring, the search for a second full-time OPIA adviser still continues. And unless someone is hired after the coming rounds of interviews, students are likely to experience advising delays akin to last year’s record levels.

In an OPIA survey from last year, students made clear that the squeaky wheel needs the grease. Many complained that the wait time to meet a public interest adviser in the fall delayed their public interest career planning for up to five weeks.

Those delays “often mean students miss opportunities,” according to 3L David Arkush. Last year, some frustrated students left the OPIA process, opting instead for the quicker turnaround times at the better-staffed Office of Career Services.

To avoid a repeat of those circumstances, OPIA hopes to have its second full-time adviser in place soon. Adviser and coordinator Benna Kushlefsky predicted that, “if we don’t hire an Assistant Director by November, it will be insane here and the quality of service will suffer.”

Student demand for counseling typically floods OPIA by November, when 1Ls are permitted to contact advisers and upperclassmen are eager to solidify future plans. According to OPIA administrators, last year’s annual survey was the first time students expressed mass disappointment, mostly because of wait times.

According to OPIA Director Alexa Shabecoff, the staffing shortage is especially serious at HLS because, in addition to advising a large student body, OPIA publishes a seminal guide to legal public interest work and takes a leadership role nationally among public interest offices.

The increasing responsibilities for staff members, coupled with increases in demand, put a strain on the staff, according to OPIA staffer Jennie Williamson. Along with Shabecoff, Williamson is OPIA’s only other full-time employee.

After years of formal requests for another full time staff member, relief seemed on the horizon when Dean Robert Clark authorized the hiring of a full-time Assistant Director last April. When filled, the position will be OPIA’s first new full-time position since its inception in 1990.

Many students and staff members regarded the hiring of another full-time adviser as overdue, pointing out that some peer institutions have six public interest advisers, and most have at least three.

The Perfect Candidate

While OPIA currently has eight part-time advisors — more than most schools — Shabecoff said that such advisers can’t gain a general knowledge of the field or of campus resources as easily as a full-time counterpart.

“I can’t delegate administrative responsibilities to part time advisers,” Shabecoff said. Part time advisers typically advise for five hours per week and have specialized areas of knowledge. Instead of specialized advisers, Shabecoff claimed, “we need a generalist career counselor.”

While the office hoped for a hire by July, the search has dragged on. Qualified applicants, Shabecoff claims, must have an unusual mix of legal public interest experience, willingness to perform mundane administrative and technical tasks, a diverse background and an openness to the many fields of student interest.

Openness to the variety of student interests has especially been a problem. “Some people turn pale in interviews when I bring up the kinds of public interest placements that OPIA makes,” Shabecoff said, adding that she refuses to hire anyone who does not share her “big tent” view of public interest work.

Regarding diversity of background, Shabecoff said that, “having worked in legal services, I am reluctant to hire someone with the same background. We are very interested in someone with diverse or international experience.”

OPIA’s selection process is also strict. After being selected from among hundreds of applicants to interview for the position, a prospective hire must also meet with a student and a faculty committee. Until a “perfect candidate” emerges, some are put on hold, awaiting the results of other rounds.

Shabecoff said that an applicant might be accepted following the round of interviews taking place next week. But as the office continues its search, Shabecoff said that she hopes students will spend more time in the office and less time “staring at my closed door.”

California love?

BY RANDY BECKWITH

Law firm hiring, like the economy, is cyclical. We have seen ups and downs over the past 20 years. Following the explosive growth in the late 1990s, we are once again in a downswing.

Dramatic law firm growth began in the exuberant 1980s, with the expansion in the size and number of offices of California-based firms. Moreover, many national firms from New York City, Washington, D.C. and the Midwest opened California branch offices – a large number in Los Angeles – to share in the state’s economic boom. Law firms hired both new and lateral associates, as well as partners, at previously unheard of levels.

This seemingly unending upward trajectory came to an abrupt halt in the early ’90s, when the economy went into a very severe slump – a slump that was longer and deeper in Southern California than elsewhere. There was a concomitant decline in law firm hiring, considerable “downsizing” within the associate ranks and “rightsizing” at the partnership levels. Some mid-sized and smaller firms completely dissolved and unprofitable branch offices closed.

The economy began to slide downward in the fall of 2000, and over the last two years there has been a marked slowdown in the hiring of transactional lawyers at all levels of seniority. In addition, sizeable layoffs and downsizing continue to occur. Northern California is the hardest hit because it expanded most dramatically over the past few years. The expansion, primarily in the Silicon Valley, was fueled as firms rushed to represent emerging-growth companies and serve clients in the venture capital, high technology and biotech communities. Because Southern California has a more diversified economy, the downturn has been less severe, but still law firm hiring practices are considerably more modest than in the boom years of the late Ô90s. Nonetheless, the news is not all gloom and doom, as law firms continue to hire for their summer associate programs, make permanent job offers to the summer associates of 2002 and, for the most part, welcome the new graduates with an eye towards improving economic conditions.

The sheer size of California’s legal market is enormous. There are over 140,000 active members of the California Bar; the State Bar’s recent demographic study shows that 45 percent of them practice in the Los Angeles area and 30 percent in the Bay Area. The state’s five largest legal markets, in descending order, are as follows: Los Angeles County, the San Francisco Bay Area (including Silicon Valley), Orange County, San Diego and Sacramento.

Over the past 20 years, the law-firm model evolved from a professional collegial club to a business entity; the emphasis now is definitely on the bottom line. Whereas “gentlemen” lawyers of old did not disclose revenues, profits or compensation, today that information is regularly disbursed in legal publications, daily newspapers, and via numerous Internet web sites. Through associate chat rooms, law students and associates have immediate access to changes in compensation, hours, bonuses and other pertinent information. Indeed, almost immediately after a decision is made by a firm to have another round of layoffs, the news is transmitted nationwide.

Another major change is the increase in lawyer – most notably partner – mobility. Attorneys no longer spend an entire career in one firm. When offered higher compensation, more managerial responsibility or a chance to head up a practice area, many partners have shifted firms. Furthermore, merger and acquisition activity remains strong. Over the past years, a number of out-of-state firms have come into California, each by acquiring several local partners with very profitable practices, or entire smaller to mid-sized firms. A number of law firms, national, regional and local, either are actively considering or have been involved in merger discussions with other firms. This summer, Clifford Chance became the first British firm to come to California. They did so by acquiring a number of Brobeck Phleger & Harrison partners with substantial business and opening four California offices. The trend seems to indicate that many of even the most highly regarded small to medium firms are having difficulty competing with the large firms on associate compensation and in providing clients with a full array of legal services. Just last month, the well-regarded IP boutique Lyon & Lyon, with offices in both Northern and Southern California, closed its doors. Many of the firm’s partners have joined large national full service firms and other intellectual property lawyers have or considered the same type of move. The consequence of this consolidation is that students have more limited choices when they are considering law firm practice.

Many times, associates follow partners to their new firms. However, the majority of associates move on their own for varying reasons. It is increasingly rare that an attorney’s first job is his/her only job. Thus, in considering your first job the question is less “Is this the right job?” and more “Will this firm give me the training and experience to enhance my marketability for my next position?”

Another reality is that, after the tremendous increases in associate salaries and bonuses over the past two years, compensation is flat. Many firms have notified their associates that there will not be bonuses this year and that base salaries are frozen. In addition, some firms are employing other cost-cutting measures such as asking new associates to defer their start dates until early next year, paying new attorneys a stipend to work in the public or not for profit arena, and offering unpaid leaves of absence. There is an effort to avoid rescissions of offers to entry-level associates and to date, the only salary reductions have been in those few firms that upped the $125,000 starting salary to $135,000 and now have reverted to the original figure.

The “hot” practice areas continue to be those that dominated last year’s findings. Litigation heads the list with the most opportunities. Intellectual property remains very strong from patent prosecution to “soft IP” areas such as copyright, trademark, licensing, Internet, piracy and privacy. Next on the list are real estate and land use, followed by bankruptcy. The labor and employment practice remains strong. “Lukewarm” practice areas include international, environmental, tax, trusts and estates. “Cool” areas are healthcare, banking, and government contracts. And for those of you with stars in your eyes: Although Los Angeles is the entertainment capital, it is virtually impossible for a new graduate to break into that industry unless you know someone.

In this tight legal market, firms are placing more emphasis on law school grades, business or legal experience gained by working in the field prior to law school or during a summer, and performance evaluations. Law firm hiring programs are currently tailored to reflect a more conservative and long-term approach; therefore, you need to distinguish yourself from other students as you interview. Being knowledgeable and truly interested in a firm and then conveying that to the interviewer will help you stand out.

RANDY BECKWITH is a partner with Seltzer Fontaine Beckwith, Legal Search Consultants in Los Angeles. He can be reached at rbeckwith@sfbsearch.com.

Attack of the invisible insects!

BY AMANDA GOAD

Ever feel like your life is being ruined by extraterrestrials? Invisible insects? The Orkin man? Payne Ratner’s new play Infestation, at the Boston Playwrights’ Theatre through this Sunday, depicts the intersection of three personal crises in black comedic fashion.

Elwin (John Kuntz) has just moved back home after what he describes as, well, abduction by aliens. His mother (Karen MacDonald) wants him to become a doctor, or at least to finish high school. She’s preoccupied, though, with the unseen bugs she believes to be taking over their house, and by a budding courtship with Leon the exterminator (Michael Walker). Leon, in turn, thinks his professional rivals are closing in on him. The characters’ attempts to deal with their own demons, while doubting the existence of each others’, drive this wacky and unpredictable show.

Sexual tensions among the three are also important. Elwin has a severe Oedipal crush on his mother. She is desperately lonely, clinging to both male characters while peering out the window for signs of Elwin’s father, twelve years departed. Leon’s intentions become unclear as Elwin unearths clues to the exterminator’s past. Grossly extended sexual metaphors involving Leon’s pump sprayer and mother’s onion dip hold the audience’s attention against its will.

All three actors give solid performances, despite some thin spots in the dialogue in the first act and the increasing bizarreness of the second. Kuntz convincingly portrays a young man suffering from some combination of alien abduction, mental illness, adolescent angst, and a steady diet of KFC and Nesquik. The chemistry between troubled mother and troubled son is excellent, a credit to director Wesley Savick. Kuntz even pulls off a breathless soliloquy as a blind priest, a figment of mother’s imagination.

The Boston Playwrights’ Theatre is almost a story in itself. Founded by Derek Walcott in 1981, before he won the Nobel Prize for Literature, it serves today as a testing ground for new dramatic works. BPT is affiliated with Boston University’s Creative Writing Department and located at the margin of BU’s campus, but remains artistically and financially independent.

The arrangement neatly brings together professional actors and directors, innovative writers and adventurous playgoers, but it does have its drawbacks. The theater staff came begging for additional contributions before the start of last Friday’s show, but after its conclusion, the T platform in front of BPT was packed with oblivious BU undergrads en route to the clubs.

“Playwrights are the albino alligators of the theater community,” explained Jacob Strautmann, managing director of the Theatre, in his pre-show pitch for more money. He means that they require special care to stay alive, but also merit extra attention. The analogy seems quite apt for the disturbing yet sometimes transfixing Infestation.


Boston Playwrights’ Theater

949 Commonwealth Ave.

Boston, MA 02215

617-358-PLAY

http://www.bu.edu/bpt

Eleven Essentials: The bars you need to know.

BY KEN WISER

River Gods
125 River Street, Central Square (617) 576-1881
Intimate and trendy, River Gods may be destroyed by it own success. But until the masses swamp this small Central Square Bar, its phenomenal hamburgers, generous cocktails, live DJs and fake torches make it one of the best bars in Cambridge.

Charlie’s Kitchen
10 Eliot Street, Harvard Square (617) 492-9646
To some, Charlie’s Kitchen is just the other bar on the Square with a late license. But the diner-like Charlie’s is in fact much more. With a huge selection of draft beers, a fine jukebox, live lobster and dirt-cheap food, this might be Harvard’s best dive.

Druid
1357 Cambridge Street,Inman Square (617) 497-0965
A dark Irish bar with 14 beers on tap and great music, the Druid is not exactly a traditional Irish pub but it isn’t far off. With wooden benches, a smoky atmosphere and a picture of Che Guevara, is the place to go when you’re trying to hide from the outside world outside.

Sunset Grille and Tap
130 Brighton Avenue, Allston (617)254-1331
Few bars are worth venturing over the Charles for, but the Sunset, with 110 beers on tap, is one. The atmosphere may be lacking and the food might just be okay, but with all that beer on tap – and more in bottles – it’s hard to care about anything else.

Cambridge Brewing Company
1 Kendall Square, Cambridge (617) 494-1994
Cambridge (and Harvard Square in particular) has its share of mediocre brewpubs. Fortunately, there is at least one that stands out. The CBC not only has an incredible Pale Ale, but their great suds can be ordered in an entertaining, if precarious, Beer Tower.

Tír Na NÓg
366A Somerville Ave., Union Square (617) 628-4300
Just about every bar in the Boston area claims to be Irish.  Somerville’s Tír Na Nóg, however, delivers.  A dark, but roomy pub, Nóg has a warm, Irish atmosphere that is complemented by good beer, a friendly clientele, and live music.

RedBones/Underbones
55 Chester St., Davis Square, (617)628-2200
Well-known for the best barbeque in the area, RedBones is actually underrated as a drinking destination. The beer selection tops any of its Davis Square neighbors, with everything from big-bottled Belgians to cheap, crisp Ballantine (perfect with spicy snacks from the late-night menu). Can’t decide which to imbibe? Let the upstairs barkeep spin the wheel of brews for you! Also a worthwhile stop for tequila drinkers, with excellent pint glass-sized margaritas.

West Side Lounge
1680 Mass. Ave., Porter Square, (617) 441-5566
This place will put a hole in your wallet, but it also offers, hands-down, the best cocktails in the area. If you know what an Aviation or a Hemingway Daiquiri is – or better, if you demand a bartender who can make one – then this is the place for you. Patrons with good manners have even been known to order by mood, with the masterful Misty concocting them a perfect libation for, say, Monday melancholy. Plus, it’s close to campus.

Phoenix Landing
512 Mass. Ave., Central Square (617) 576-6260
By day, it’s the best bar in Central Square, if not in Cambridge. A friendly (mostly) Irish staff delivers reasonably priced, tasty bar food and perfect pints of Old Speckled Hen. By night, a reasonable night-club – with renowned jungle, drum and bass, house and top-40 nights.

Newtowne Grille (Socrates)
1945 Mass. Ave., Porter Square, (617) 661-0706
Don’t be fooled by the tiny-print philosopher’s name on the sign. This Porter Square dive is distinctly anti-reflection. Head here after pizza next door (same name, different tablecloths) or any time when you want a beer and a shot around folks who wouldn’t think of drinking anything else.

Rhythm & Spice
315 Mass. Ave., Central / Kendall Squares (617) 497-0977
With a late license and a busy dance floor on weekends, you might compare this beyond-Central restaurant/club to the Kong. Except that there’s good music, brands of rum you’ve never heard of, and almost no chance of running into annoying classmates (unless of course, they’re reading this). One of the few Cambridge spots that justifies its cover charge ($7 on weekends).

Newsbriefs: Dersh on torture, Miss HLS, and Summers on anti-Semitism

BY

Dershowitz gives torture the thumbs up

Professor Alan Dershowitz continues to speak out on the controversial issue of using torture in terrorist cases and other sticky situations. The high-profile prof appeared on The Today Show this week to argue that torture could become a judicially-sanctioned procedure, similar to a search warrant, where a judge could officially sign off on its use.

During an earlier conversation with Mike Wallace on 60 Minutes, Dershowitz said, “We can’t just close our eyes and pretend we live in a pure world…. If anybody had the ability to prevent the events of Sept. 11. . . they would have gone to whatever length…. The problem becomes, where do we draw that line?” Dershowitz used the example of a ticking bomb scenario, where the use of torture could help elicit vital information leading to the bomb’s whereabouts. Students who have Dershowitz in class should take note that his comments give a whole new meaning to the phrase “being in the hot seat.”

Miss America: Already in America, coming to HLS

There was something actually unique about the crowning of Miss America on Sunday. Erika Harold, the contestant from Illinois, was recently accepted to Harvard Law School but postponed coming to the Law School in order to compete in the pageant. Harold, who plans to fight youth violence during her upcoming national speaking tour as Miss America, received a $50,000 scholarship for Saturday night’s big win.

To put this in context for law students, this means that Harold paraded her body and mind before a critical panel of judges in order to barely cover one year of law school expenses. Well, she’s a lot better off there than at the Financial Aid office.

Summers slams alleged anti-Semitism at the University

Harvard University President Lawrence Summers spoke out last week against what he saw as growing anti-Semitism at Harvard University and elsewhere. His remarks came in response to growing demands that Harvard remove all Israeli investments from its endowment.

Summers said that he was making his remarks “not as president of the university but as a concerned member of our community.” Earlier this year, nearly 600 professors from Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology signed a petition urging Harvard and M.I.T. to divest from Israel. Some of those who signed the petition argued that Summers’ remarks were an attempt to cut off debate on the subject.

Prof. Dershowitz, a vocal opponent of divestiture, called in this week’s Harvard Crimson for a debate with Winthrop House Master Paul Hanson, who signed a pro-divestment petition.

“Those who sign the divestment petition should be ashamed of themselves,” Dershowitz wrote in a Crimson opinion column. “If they are not, it is up to others to shame them.”

Being a business man

BY BILLY GONZALEZ

Rather than take a law job, this summer I accepted a position in the mergers and acquisitions group at Merrill Lynch’s Investment Banking Division. I share below a few brief thoughts on the summer for those who may be entertaining the idea of a summer at an I-Bank:

1. The work is interesting and varied. As a summer associate, you are called on to do everything from financial modeling to document production to client services. At its best, the work is dynamic and exciting. In M&A, you are very often working with the highest tier of management on a day to day basis, dealing with information that has yet to be disclosed to the public that you will eventually read about on the front page of the Wall Street Journal. You are learning how companies can create value for shareholders in a variety of industries through acquisitions or divestitures, and you are learning the role that creative financing plays in companies’ strategies and in our economy.

At its worst, you are a powerpoint monkey, making sure that margins are correct, that there are no extra spaces anywhere in a document, and that all of the footnotes and numbers are formatted correctly. Reality is somewhere in the middle. I did my share of powerpoint iteration, but at the same time I gained a number of important skills, learned a variety of ways to look at a company to determine its value and fair market price and was privy to fascinating private discussions which went to the heart of the strategy of some of corporate America’s largest players.

2. The hours are hell. Even though this was the worst summer for M&A dealflow in over a decade, this did not translate into less work. Unlike on the legal side, where a firm only becomes involved when a deal goes live or is in later stages, bankers are busy pitching companies a barrage of new ideas in an effort to drum up work during “slow” times. This “pitch-work,” although creative, is often fruitless, and can demand as much time as a deal would – sometimes more.

My day started, on average, at about 9:30 a.m. when I would arrive at the office, and ended at around 1:00 a.m. when I would fall asleep in the company car provided for me on the way back to my apartment. I pulled four all-nighters, and only had a day off two times during my 10 weeks (one was a Saturday, the other was a Sunday). One upside to working long hours is that I spent very little on meals over the summer, since most of them were eaten in the office and paid for by the firm.

3. Making plans will frustrate you. Probably the most frustrating thing about banking is the complete inability to plan in advance, whether it be to meet friends or get a haircut. It was the norm that mornings would be relatively slow, with my superiors reviewing what I had prepared the evening before. As the day progressed, things would get busier, and just when I thought you had the day’s workload under control, a mountain of work would get piled on my desk at 6:30 p.m. The expectation was that it would be ready for review the next morning – there went my evening. A variation on that theme was often played by the staffing coordinator, who would wait until 6:00 p.m. on Friday to staff me on a few new assignments – there went my weekend.

Overall, I am happy with my summer experience. I feel like I received two summers’ worth of learning in one internship and gained valuable skills that will serve me well. For those interested in working at a bank over the summer, it is important to realize that you are not signing up to be wined and dined, but to get a fairly accurate picture of what it is like to work there full time – a good thing for people considering this demanding but rewarding career track.

Bang-Up Sisters

BY TRACY CONN

Starring Goldie Hawn as Suzette and Susan Sarandon as Vin (short for Lavinia), The Banger Sisters is a feel-good story about two women forced to reconcile their shared wild past with the lives they have chosen to live 20 years later. Nicknamed “the banger sisters” in their youth for their propensity to sleep with the musicians whose bands they followed, the women have grown up to live separate and different lives.
After being fired from her bartending job at L.A.’s famous Whiskey A Go-Go, Suzette, shocked that her presence is not indispensable to the club’s party scene, decides to drive to Phoenix to surprise Vin. Along the way, Suzette picks up Harry (Geoffrey Rush), an obsessive-compulsive writer looking for a ride to Phoenix so that he can carry out a secret mission.
Despite Suzette’s expectations, Vini’s plans for her life do not include a reunion with her wild and crazy former cohort. Vin has dropped the nickname and married a lawyer/politician, with an expensive house in the suburbs, two daughters and a golden retriever to boot. Suzette, still the party girl and Vin struggle to relate and find a middle ground where they can reconnect.
Comfortably ensconced in suburbia, Vin fears that her past will come back to haunt her — and until Suzette’s back in town, her groupie status has stayed buried firmly in her past. Vin’s daughters, played by Traffic’s Erika Christensen and Sarandon’s real-life daughter Eva Amurri, find Suzette’s presence confusing at first, but ultimately enlightening and liberating.
Eventually, Suzette’s influence causes both Vin and Harry to loosen up and rediscover their true selves. Most of the movie’s characters learn, through her example, to put others’ expectations and their own self-imposed pressures in perspective. Suzette brings out the best in everyone around her, whether by being a muse, a reliable but demanding friend or an inspirer of romance.
The ever-lovable Hawn, elegant yet playful Sarandon, and adorable Rush poignantly demonstrate their characters’ fears of both losing their connections to the past as well as hanging on to them too strongly — of letting go of the people they once were and surrendering to the people they’ve become.
A special highlight of the film is Amurri’s performance as Vin’s youngest daughter Ginger, who struggles to pass her road test, feeling that the whole world is out to prevent her from doing so.
The Banger Sisters, despite being fairly predictable, is nonetheless funny and enjoyable. The characters’ relationships are complex and believable and their transformations were well-earned and fun to watch.

Vino & Veritas: Serving OWGGs

BY DUNCAN CHAISANGUANTHUM

If you consider yourself an Accomplished Wine Person (AWP), you should probably stop reading now. This column is not for you. Don’t feel slighted — for two years you had Justin Dillon, who rivaled most professional enologists. (“Enology” or “oenology,” both pronounced een-ology, is the SAT vocab word for the science of wine and winemaking, from the Greek for “wine,” oinos.) Josh Solomon, the current wine columnist with whom Mike and I alternate weeks, is a closet sommelier posing as a law student (yes, he actually is a law student). Suffice it to say that you AWPs have gotten your due.

Thus, we’re writing a column for Ordinary Wine Guys and Gals (OWGGs). If you enjoy trying to discern currant from cloves from kerosene but words like “Pouilly-Fuisse” perplex you, greetings: You are an OWGG. Together we OWGGs will explore practical, affordable wine enjoyment and education, and when it’s all over the AWPs will have nothing on us.

We review two California cabernets this week, both available at the Harvard Provision Company, that are disappointments. Well, both were drinkable, much like water: No matter how much you drink, it just isn’t very interesting. The least objectionable was a 1998 Robert Mondavi. Sweet on the nose (“a little sweet, even for a woman,” noted our duly designated female), with plenty of berries and dark cherry. Deep purple in color with a slight brick overtone, medium-thick legs. Less sweet and light on the palette, and mildly astringent. With this Mondavi loser, you’ll not spend all night plumbing its intricacies. In fact, if some well-meaning person should give you a bottle, the plumbing is the most appropriate place for its contents.

The other Cali cab was a 1999 Murphy-Goode. Even more like water than the Mondavi, it was tart and acidic on the nose. The acid followed onto the palette, accompanied by hints of strawberries left in the fridge too long. If given a bottle, hit the donor on the head with it (not too hard — don’t hurt the bottle) and return it for a refund.

Knowing good cabernet sauvignon is knowing how great wine can be. We have always been partial to these reds because they contain a complexity and pretension that many reds and most whites lack. Understandably, the cab grape is the basis for some of the finest wines from California’s Napa Valley, the Bordeaux region of France and southern Australia. Cab also blends well with other grapes such as merlot (the classic Bordeaux blend), cabernet franc (known as “meritage”), and shiraz (known as “Cabernet Sauvignon/Shiraz”).

But like the hot girl you ogle in class that either has a boyfriend or personality issues, or not uncommonly, both, the catch is simple – cabs are expensive relative to many other varietals. Wine producing is apparently not a pro bono endeavour: wineries charge more for wines labeled as “Cabernet Sauvignon” because they can. (Incidentally, a bottle need only be comprised of 75% of that varietal to be labeled as such.) My experience has been to seek cabs in the $20-$30 sweet spot. Sure, paying more does not necessarily entail a better bottle. The $10 bin will have the occasional Anna Kournikova, but the $40 bin will also have the occasional Anna Kournikova. But there is enough consistent quality in the $20-30 range to make it useful guidance for affordable, well-made cabs.

1998 Robert Mondavi Cabernet Sauvignon ($38). Widely regarded as the Yale Law of California winemaking, Mondavi disappoints today. The wine exhibits a strong nose of berries and hints of mild spice. The structure is decent with balance among alcohol, acid and its slightly tannic finish. However, the wine lacks the cornucopia of subtle flavors that distinguish exceptional wines. From first taste to finish, the Mondavi is annoyingly sweet, despite the Sweet Tarts I had before guzzling.

1999 Murphy-Goode Cabernet Sauvignon ($23). If Mondavi is the Yale Law of California winemaking, Murphy-Goode is the NYU of California reds. Typically known for its fumé blanc and other whites, Murphy-Goode is a relative newcomer to reds. Unsurprising for a young wine, this cab is very acidic and tart, unbalanced, and probably should be aged or decanted before consumption.

Orientation and the Fleet Bank Man

BY JEREMY BLACHMAN

If there was one phrase that kept getting repeated over and over again during the week of 1L orientation — aside from “it’s really nothing like One-L or The Paper Chase, we swear!!” — it was “here’s another very, very important piece of paper for you to read very, very carefully.”

This year’s registration seemed to require a wheelbarrow to take home all the brochures, flyers, handbooks, guides, maps, floor plans, and encyclopedic volumes about Ethernet.

We got stuff like the helpful “Playing it Safe: A Guide for Students, Faculty, and Staff,” which introduced the handy R.A.C.E. acronym for fire safety: Rescue. Alarm. Confine. Extinguish. As opposed to my initial guess, Run Away Carrying Everything.

Plus we got goodies from our new friends at Lexis and Westlaw. It took me a minute to figure out why Lexis had a sweepstakes where you can win a Lexus. And then, after way too many minutes thinking about it, I got it. Lexis, Lexus! Those legal research tools sure are funny.

I don’t understand their competition yet. But from what I’ve heard, I’m surprised their tables at orientation were allowed to be right next to each other.

Westlaw’s coffee mug probably edges out Lexis’s notepad for best bribe of the day, although I don’t really understand the fake velvet case. Kind of matches the Fleet Bank sunglass case. They’ll go great together in my trash can.

Along with my new Fleet Bank ATM card, which I really only signed up for because I felt bad for The Fleet Bank Man. All alone at his table, surrounded only by Fleet Bank paraphernalia and forms with really small print.

The first time I passed by the “please, please, please sign up for an account” table, The Fleet Bank Man was polite. “Have you signed up for your free Fleet Bank account yet?”

By the fifteenth time I passed him, I felt pangs of guilt as I saw other students mocking him. So I finally stopped, if only just to listen.

“Get a free mouse pad, keychain, and white board.”

Wait a minute. Did he say mouse pad, keychain, AND white board? Not “…OR white board?” How could anyone be passing this up?

“But I don’t know my mailing address,” I said. “Leave it blank — just put your name and we’ll find it,” the Fleet Bank Man said. “Or not even your name. Just your mother’s maiden name and the last 3 digits of your favorite number. We’ll figure it out.” Sounded a little desperate to me.

But I didn’t know the half of it. The next student who passed may have been the straw that broke the Fleet Bank Man’s back. He tried to walk by, but The Fleet Bank Man notices everyone. I overheard the other day:

“Have you signed up for your free Fleet Bank account yet?”

“I’ve already got a bank account.”

“What bank?”

“Bank One.”

“But we’ve got an ATM right there on campus.”

“That’s okay. I’m happy with Bank One.”

“Did I mention we’ve even got an ATM right on campus?”

“I’m happy with my current bank account.”

“Happy? How can you be happy when we’re the only ones with an ATM right on campus? Do you even know what “happy” is? You don’t until you’ve signed up for your free Fleet Bank account.”

“Sorry, I’m really not interested.”

“Wait! Bank One gives children tainted candy on Halloween! And pushes elderly people out of their wheelchairs! And we’ve got an ATM right on campus….”

I think the Fleet Bank Man may need to take advantage of the Office of Student Life Counseling. Which, incidentally, has a lovely brochure.

JAG policy calls for meaningful action and discussion

BY MATTHEW DELNERO

Like many gay and lesbian students, I was saddened to hear of the law school’s decision to permit the use of OCS services by military recruiters, despite the military’s noncompliance with the HLS sexual orientation anti-discrimination policy. Partisan bureaucrats in Washington forced HLS to abandon the practice of denying military access to OCS facilities, despite the fact that military recruiters have been able to visit the campus through other channels, such as the HLS Veterans Association.

Although the Clinton administration never challenged Harvard’s policy regarding military recruitment through OCS, the Bush administration has taken a heavy-handed approach to interpreting the Solomon Amendment, a 1996 law making federal research funding contingent on the military’s ability to recruit on-campus.

The challenge now is to formulate a community response that is meaningful, sincere, and, of course, effective. I believe it is important to respond vigorously to the Defense Department’s behavior; students and faculty should be outraged that the Bush administration has forced the Law School to abandon its principled stance against discrimination. But I urge that members of the HLS community not partake in actions directly obstructing the presence of military recruiters on campus.

Throughout the summer, members and allies of HLS Lambda have engaged in meaningful dialogue regarding an appropriate response to the Bush administration’s actions against HLS. We all aspire to the same goal: to let partisan bureaucrats in Washington know that while we respect and honor those students pursuing the noble calling of military service, we reject the Defense Department’s strong-arm tactics and irrational discrimination against its gay and lesbian service members. As to how to best reach that goal, there is a fortunate diversity of opinion here.

The approach that has been most publicized, however, is that of subverting the military presence by occupying every military interview slot with gay students who are not actually interested in military service. While I share the frustration of those who advocate that tactic, I am convinced that such an approach would not serve our intended goal and may inadvertently show disregard for those students (whether gay or straight) who are genuinely interested in JAG Corps service.

Prior HLS policy on military recruitment provided the perfect balance between idealism and pragmatism: Those students wishing to interview with the JAG Corps could do so through the Veterans Association, while the school maintained its principled stance against the military’s irrational discrimination towards its gay and lesbian service members.

Under the new HLS policy, however, military recruiters will participate in the On-Campus Interviewing (OCI) process and presumably will not opt to use the Veterans Association’s services. If, however, all interview slots are filled with students not actually interested in a position with the JAG Corps, then those students genuinely hoping to interview with the military may be disadvantaged.

While it is possible that the military will add more interview slots in response to the seeming surge in demand, there is no guarantee that they will. Rather, aware that they are caught in a dispute between Harvard students and the senior leadership in Washington whose orders they must follow, JAG Corps recruiters may simply opt to abandon their efforts at HLS. While the departure of the recruiters may initially seem to be a victory, such a position ignores the need to support and honor the men and women of our military while we express our opposition to the Defense Department’s harmful and unproductive discrimination against its gay and lesbian soldiers. Signing-up for JAG Corps interview slots in protest fails to serve that delicate balance.

Despite my disagreement with the tactic of signing up for JAG Corps interview slots in protest, I look forward to participating in other expressions of dissatisfaction with the Defense Department’s violation of HLS anti-discrimination rules. My colleagues in Lambda, as well as many other students and faculty members, are considering a variety of promising actions. We all agree on the necessity of a visible presence that expresses opposition to the Defense Department’s irrational discriminatory policies.

The Dean’s open letter to the HLS community, in which he demonstrated sensitivity and thoughtfulness in explaining the unfortunate change in OCS policy, was a laudable first step. Going forward, the law school could host a forum regarding the discrimination against gay and lesbian soldiers in the military. HLS may also wish to initiate or participate in future legal challenges to the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy and/or the Solomon Amendment.

Through these and other actions, we will hopefully accomplish what the Defense Department has sadly failed to do: the honoring of all the men and women, both straight and gay, who have valiantly served the United States in its armed forces.

Jag must go: Time for civil disobedience

BY LINDSAY HARRISON

The U.S. military ought to change its slogan. What it really means is: “Be all that you can be, unless you’re being gay.” After the military threatened the withdrawal of hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funding unless Harvard Law School permitted the military to interview through OCS, Dean Clark was forced to allow the employer on campus despite its formal policy of discrimination against gays and lesbians. Dean Clark did his part, writing a strongly worded letter in support of gay students and opposed to military discrimination. Students should now protest the military’s assault on Harvard Law School’s policy of non-discrimination by launching an assault of our own.

The military needs to learn that it cannot force our law school to act as a conveyer belt for the military’s own homophobia. The best way we can teach the military this lesson is by filling every interview slot with gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered students. This strategy can best accomplish the twin goals of protesting the miltiary’s policy of discrimination and persuading the military not to engage in strong-arm tactics to advance discriminatory ends.

First, by filling each slot with individuals that are qualified but for their sexual orientation, we can demonstrate to the military that discrimination against gay and lesbian students is only causing the military harm. Imagine the interviewer’s response to the plethora of otherwise qualified candidates: “Well, you have great grades and you’re on the law review, but I see here that you are a homosexual.” While the exclusion of gay men and lesbians from combat is, in my opinion, irrational, the exclusion of gay men and lesbians from JAG is plain absurd. By marching in intelligent, capable, gay individuals, one after another, we can demonstrate to the military that they are losing out by engaging in discrimination.

Second, by filling each interview slot with gay and lesbian students, we can persuade the military to go away. Imagine hours and hours of wasted time spent interviewing otherwise qualified candidates. The recruiters sent to interview on campus will quickly realize that doing interviewing through OCS will not help fill their quotas for new recruits, and they will leave.

Opponents of this strategy argue that filling up all the interview slots with gay and lesbian students is unfair to students who really wish to become part of JAG. First, this argument ignores the possibility that gay and lesbian students really wish to sign up. Unfortunately, joining the armed forces is not an option for these students, but that does not mean that they should be deprived the opportunity to interview. Second, this argument ignores the ease with which anyone in this country may contact a military recruiter. Army JAG, Navy JAG, and Air Force JAG each has a website with detailed instructions on how to sign up. In the same way that students wishing to work in other public interest fields must take the initiative to obtain interviews on their own, students wishing to join the military may contact JAG and obtain an interview. The Veterans Association has already indicated a willingness to assist the military in conducting informal recruiting on campus, just as they have done in years past.

Opponents of this strategy also argue that filling up all the interview slots with gay and lesbian students is unpatriotic and disrespectful of the men and women who honor us with their military service. First, this argument contains a flawed understanding of the meaning of patriotism. Patriotism does not involve blind devotion to the military and support of every military act and policy. True patriotism involves love of our country and of the principles we hold dear — namely, equality and liberty. Attempting to demonstrate to the military that it should not discriminate is not unpatriotic. Second, the argument that filling the slots with gay students is unpatriotic is itself unpatriotic. It essentially tells gay and lesbian students that they should not attempt to sign up to serve. Again, this argument ignores the fact that many patriotic gay and lesbian students are denied the opportunity to enlist. Gay men and lesbians are thankful that we have a military and are thankful to those who serve. We only wish that we too could join their ranks. By filling up all the interview slots with gay men and lesbians, we can show the military the error of its ways and attempt to create a world where gay people can be patriots too.

Letters: Gun debates, Nesson, and divesting in Israel

BY

Target shooting club founder urges more gun debates

In a RECORD story last year, Daniel Swanson said he would like to have “a public discussion with the HLS Target Shooting Club.” I would like to have a public discussion with Daniel. That’s what the club is all about. In our first year, we’ve only had one speaker — John Lott, discussing his paper on multiple-victimpublic shootings — but more speakers and debates is always better. We are in full agreement. Daniel wants to discuss accidental shootings — sounds great. I look forward to having that debate, and would enjoy co-sponsoring firearms-related events with interested organizations of any political stripe (especially if they have a bigger budget than we do).But I part company with Daniel when he suggests that “publicly advancing the beliefs” that guns can be used as a “force for good,” as I did in a recent Economist article, is at odds with making a “balanced and constructive contribution” to the gun debate. One can advance the gun debate without everything having to be a debate.

Neither Daniel, nor I, nor the Target Shooting Club, need be neutral, apolitical observers. We’re lawyers. We work within an adversarial system.

Nor does advancing the debate require that we all embrace cost-benefit analysis and compromise. In fact, I suspect that Daniel himself isn’t a compromiser. He starts out calling for “balanced and constructive contribution[s]” to the gun debate and “balancing benefits against risks” — but then calls it “incontrovertible” that child shootings are“unacceptable” and that we should “ensure that those shootings cease.” This is not cost-benefit language — benefits of gun ownership are now noticeably absent. Nor do I demand that language of him. The best debate involves details and listening to the other side, but it also involves passionate commitments and principled positions, which I hope we both have. My rule of thumb: Argue what you believe, whether it’s moderate or hard-line.

Another rule of thumb: Have fun whenever possible, whether it’s “counter-cultural rebellion” or screening movies featuring “regular people using guns as a force for good.” Please attend our debates, but also come to our screening of Red Dawn. And, regardless of your views on gun control, come shooting with us. All are welcome.

— Sasha Volokh, 3L

Alum laments this semester’s lack of Nesson

I was distressed to read in the Washington Post that students at the Law School were to be denied the benefits of Professor Charles Nesson’s pedagogy for this semester. The reports did not make clear why that was so. My experience was that Professor Nesson’s courses were among the most stimulating and thought provoking, and therefore most valuable. I remember well his Constitutional Litigation Workshop seminar, which combined sound academics and real world practice considerations. I have carried what I learned there with me since, as a litigator and law teacher. I hope this hiatus is temporary.

— Mark Kreitman ‘75

Harvard should not divest its Israel investments

I was a member of Harvard’s Investment Advisory Committee and helped to draft Harvard’s policy on investments in South Africa. As you may recall, Harvard did not follow the path of other universities by divesting from South Africa. Instead, we decided to invest in companies that promoted equality of the races in South Africa, and I think that history has vindicated the approach that Harvard adopted.I recently received word that 39 Harvard professors have signed a petition for Harvard to divest from Israel. As with South Africa, I believe that boycotting investments would hurt the situation more than help it. I also believe that it would send the wrong message to the world about Harvard’s stance on terrorism.

Israelis believe that they are fighting for their survival and that their only tentative ally is the U.S. If the U.S. or U.S. companies withdraw their support from Israel, this will only increase Israel’s sense of isolation and desperation. The end result will be that Israelis will have less reason to hope for a peaceful settlement and more reason to turn to military solutions.

As for terrorism, Israel has lost more people on a proportional basis through terrorist bombings than the U.S. lost on 9/11. After the 9/11 attacks, the U.S. took the commendable position that terrorism was unacceptable under any circumstances and that anyone who supported terrorism was a terrorist. If Harvard now boycotts Israel for its response to terrorist attacks, it will be rewarding terrorists at the expense of their victims.
I, like many Americans and like many Jews, have mixed feelings about Ariel Sharon’s approach in the Middle East. However, I leave for work every morning without any fear that myself or loved ones will fall victim to a suicide bomber during the course of the day. If a neighbor of the U.S. were regularly sending suicide bombers into our country, I have no doubt that U.S. citizens would demand military action until they felt safe to walk the streets. Is it unfair for Israeli families to demand the same?

I, for one, do not know the best course of action to resolve the death spiral that we are experiencing in the Middle East. However, I do know that boycotting investments is the wrong choice for both pragmatic and ethical reasons. During difficult times in South Africa, Harvard demonstrated leadership by adopting a pragmatic and ethical investment strategy. Harvard once again has the opportunity to take a leadership position by not boycotting Israel. Please stand firm against terrorism and denounce the boycott of investments in Israel.

— Ethan Cohen, M.B.A. ‘91

HLS allows military to use OCI

BY MIKE WISER

Responding to a threat by the federal government to withhold $328 million in funds from Harvard University, Dean Robert Clark decided in late August to allow military recruiters to participate in the on campus recruiting process. Clark’s decision reversed a policy that had prevented JAG recruiters from using the Office of Career Services (OCS), because the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, which prohibits individuals who are openly gay from joining the military, prevented the military from signing the Law School’s non-discrimination pledge.

U-Turn

Dean Clark’s reversal came after a letter from the Air Force in late May said that the Air Force believed the Law School was violating the provisions of the 1996 Solomon Amendment by not allowing military recruiters to participate in on campus interviewing. Under the provisions of the Amendment, all federal funding to a university could be withheld unless “the degree of access by military recruiters is at least equal in quality and scope to that afforded to other employers.” For Harvard University, almost 16 percent of its annual operating budget could be withheld.

While allowing the military to visit the school to recruit at the invitation of the student HLS Veterans Association (HLSVA) had satisfied military recruiters in the past, an Air Force inquiry that began in December of 2001 determined that the Law School was not in compliance with the Solomon Amendment.

With hundreds of millions of dollars in the balance, Clark decided to allow recruiters to use OCS resources and to recruit through its interview process.

“I think the difference is more symbolic than anything else, because the reality was they were recruiting here and recruiting effectively on campus for the last several years,” Assistant Dean for Career Services Mark Weber told the RECORD.

Jason Watkins, president of the HLSVA, also agreed that the change probably would not make much difference for military recruiters. Watkins, who said he was “a results oriented person,” told the RECORD, “I’m not sure how much there is to be gained from official or publicized changes in policy.”

A Difficult Decision

Whether or not the change will make it easier for military recruiters, Weber said that the school’s decision came only after months of agonizing about how to respond. During that process administrators consulted members of Lambda (the gay and lesbian student group) as well as students on the placement committee for input. In the end, the administration finally decided that they would not win in a battle with the Air Force.

“I think we made a judgment that it would not be successful, given the current climate of support for the military. Also we had a sense that maybe that wasn’t the important thing to do. The more important goal is to try and bring about real change,” Clark said.

In an e-mail to students on August 26, Clark explained that, “Our decision to permit military recruiters access to the facilities and services of OCS does not reduce the Law School’s commitment to the goal of nondiscrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.”
“Dean Clark really had his back against the wall,” 2L Adam Teicholz, president of Lambda, told the RECORD. Teicholz said that Clark’s letter to the community showed that the school does not accept the military’s recruiting policy.

“The situation must be especially galling to [the] administration regardless of their moral stance, because the military is coming in and using money to force the school to change its rules, violating their prerogative to set HLS’s internal policies,” he said, “Their job now is to see how we can put those values back as part of school policy.”

What now?

Weber said the challenge now is to balance disapproval of the military policy against the danger that they will be perceived as discouraging students from joining the military.
“We all want the best and the brightest serving in the military,” Weber said. “And I can’t think of a better place to recruit them than at Harvard. I think that a good way to implement change is by getting people in the military who have different points of view who can effectuate change from the inside.”

Lambda’s Teicholz agreed with Weber, saying that they encouraged students interested in joining the JAG corps to go through the alternative interview process. “This is not about JAG; it’s about the Bush administration’s wielding its control of students’ educational opportunities to force Harvard to compromise its principles,” he said.

During an e-mail interview, Teicholz added, “Go enlist! Just do it in a way that doesn’t tell the Department of Defense that they can push us around to enforce their homophobia.”
Off campus, opinion makers have both praised and blasted the decision. “A public untutored in the nuances of the university’s thinking might get the impression that while Harvard’s elite graduates should make policy for the military, they just shouldn’t serve in it,” one Memphis paper wrote.

On campus, it is not yet clear how supporters and opponents of the military’s policy will react to the decision. Some students (including a columnist in today’s RECORD) have called for gay and lesbian students to try to book all JAG interview slots, while others have argued that doing so would only hurt students who are legitimately interested in joining the military. Teicholz said that Lambda had not yet decided how it would react.

Fenno

BY

Fenno instinctively trusted Mark Weber’s comforting words about the U.S. economic downturn not affecting Harvard nearly as badly as it would, say, other law schools, or, say, Iraq. Little did he know at the time that in a secret ceremony just before last Wednesday’s introduction to On-Campus Interviewing in a packed Ames Courtroom, Weber had laid off 10 percent of his staff in a gruesome decimation requiring biohazard suits and high-pressure hoses to clean the carpet on the third floor of Pound. On learning that corporate fat-trimming had reached the very womb of all things job-related, Fenno felt about as secure as a Columbia summer associate at Weil Gotshal & Manges. So he resolved to carefully navigate this maiden column in a bland attempt to save his own skin. (Fenno did consider the fact that anonymity could make service of a pink slip a bit problematic, but couldn’t think of a suitable pseudonym, or at least one that made any sense.)

Aside from the minor distraction occasioned by pondering such trivia as employment, “the future,” and “oil,” Fenno thought the start of the 2002-03 school year a rather bittersweet experience. On the one hand, T.J. Duane was gone. Fenno wasn’t sure he’d be able to have fun anymore without someone to tell him what fun is. After all, it was very unlikely that Fenno would be able, all on his own, to stand in a boat and take in the views of the warehouse district of Boston Harbor for three hours, be turned down by scantily-clad Eurogirls at Mantra on a Thursday night, or order appetizers at Cambridge Common. On the other hand, T.J. had been replaced by supermodel Naomi Wolf. Fenno was pretty sure that was a good sign. Then Fenno was informed that Naomi Wolf was a Freudian slip for Naomi Klein, who, while still cute and presumably a better organizer than her covergirl namesake, was not as into boneless buffalo wings as Fenno would like. Fenno again felt about as secure as a Columbia summer associate at Weil Gotshal & Manges.

Then Fenno was reminded that the military could recruit on campus now because of the Solomon Amendment, which apparently had been lying dormant for years but promised to freeze the job-search process with Herculaneum-like political fallout for at least a couple of weeks. With his bloodhound’s nose for political scandal, Fenno immediately recognized this as a hot-button issue. Characteristically eager to join the fray, he wanted to start by commending the Law School Administration on matching the wisdom of the Solomon Amendment with that of saving the entire University 16 percent of its operating budget. Some kind of medal from the President (Bush, Summers, Heston, whomever) was surely in order.

Next, given the slim pickings awaiting him in private-sector interviews, Fenno thought it would be similarly wise to burnish his physical fitness credentials for military recruitment. To that end, he wanted to ask the Administration if any part of the 1.7 percent of the University’s endowment saved annually by complying with the Amendment could at least help the Law School get its own gym or something. (Maybe HLS could give it a defiant name like “Hemengay” or “HLS’ Gay Thumb-in-Your-Eye Gym.”) Or maybe flight lessons, so we could be just like the lawyers on the TV show. But Fenno realized that with the Fed rate at 4.75 percent, a 1.7 percent return on any investment was nothing short of a frothing pipe dream. And he’d heard they screen for pipe dreams during the application. He doesn’t know what their policy on froth is.

He also thought it might be a good idea to mention here and there how excited he is about female supermodels.

Leaving his job concerns aside for a few moments, Fenno paused to gaze with a twinge of nostalgia upon the brand-new 1Ls flitting about campus with their heads full of actual, real-life ideas. Of course, these would soon be replaced by “doctrine,” “theory,” and Shockingly Dorky Conversations in the Hark (SDCH). Ah, the new corn from the old wheat. It seemed like just yesterday that Fenno pulled the futon off the roof of his parents’ minivan, only to realize that it wouldn’t fit through the halls of Story, much less into one of its rooms. But six years is actually a pretty long time.

Based on all his experience here, Fenno could safely predict that this new corn would very quickly grow quite pale, overcaffeinated, confused and generally pissed off. The Arthur Miller section would this year become twice as pissed off in half the time. Eventually seemingly far-away strains of “New York, New York” would emanate from somewhere under a bench in the back of Pound 101. This would start happening even before Erie, which will have moved from class number 18 to a computer-aided video lesson to be completed in Holmes Hall by the end of this week. Fenno made a note to drop in sometime to watch Miller zooming around the room like a videotape on fast-forward and talking like Alvin and the Chipmunks.

Sometime in late October, much of the corn will have grown kind of mealy and thoroughly inedible. [Consider using different metaphor, or ending this one earlier, or just quitting now and playing Sega for the rest of the day.] Two-Ls will roll their eyes in incredulous condescension upon hearing their third SDCH of the week, pretending not to remember that they’d vigorously advocated the affirmative of the same question just one year ago. One of these eye-rollers will then rue the day he ever decided to eat spaghetti with marinara sauce while wearing a white shirt right before his afternoon callback at Hale and Dorr.

Another old standby Fenno knew he could rely on to keep his mind off life was class. Academics: the heart of the HLS experience. But since he considered himself more of a digit than a major organ of the student body, Fenno was glad he had a few classmates still left on campus to take notes, and that he knew how to use e-mail. He had used this device to capture the outline for Professor Ring’s tax class. He figured if he read the liturgy on his own for two hours every Monday and Tuesday, it would be just as fulfilling as reading it during class, which he’d heard was all she did anyway. What matter if he performed the service at vespers instead of nones? Does Wong really care when you pray to him, as long as you’re sincere and don’t try to look directly into his face, or try to print the whole thing out on an ink-jet printer? If a 2L on Law Review writes a case note, but no one ever reads it, did it really happen? These were just a sampling of the riddles Fenno knew he had to answer before the year was through.

And so, furnished with all the tools he needed to start yet another semester, Fenno was content to carry on in his naïve belief that Harvard Law School is something that only happens to other people.

One year later, still waiting for transformation

BY

A year ago today, Lower Manhattan was covered with a layer of ash. Ash that filled the lungs of its residents, ash that stung the eyes and smelled of death and filth. A year ago today, Lower Manhattan and the United States awoke as places changed forever.

Yet that morning at HLS was tranquil as ever. No dust fell upon our halls. We had seen the violence and fire of the day before only on television. We had faced few hard choices — we did not have to ask ourselves whether or not to leap, whether or not to flee, whether or not to call our spouse or significant other or our parents first. We at HLS are connected to America’s greatest city, where we send a majority of our class each year, by family, by friends and often by birth. On September 11, our task was easy. Few, if any, of us were physically touched. We were asked only to grieve.

For most Americans of our generation, last year’s tragedy was probably the singular national event of our lives. Here it is no different. And like us, most Americans were asked only to grieve, to give to charity, to care, to be better people.

Unlike many Americans, our lives were safe on September 11 in an academic enclave far removed from the workaday world. We are fortunate daily for this shelter, but it also presents a challenge.

We are privileged by virtue of being here. But that privilege comes with a cost: We must strive not only to be better people, but to be the best kind of people. The name of this place can make us powerful, but will also magnify our failures. We cannot let this place shield us from our faults or let us shirk the onus of responsibility. We must choose to be leaders rather than followers, champions of justice rather than prophets of empty rhetoric.

We should look through the pain of last year for transformation, for new ideas and new reasons for our shared existence. Yet so far, we have not. We who would be leaders still speak far too often in the churlish manner of sheltered academics. Instead of new ideas, our debates have often clung selfishly to old ones.

HLS is a place of law and of learning, where possibilities are articulated and dreams are realized. Yet still we hide, avoiding the chance to do justice, to advance reason over mysticism and chaos, and to foster lives of decency, dignity and respect for intellectual debate.

Instead of seeking transformation in tragedy we have too often clung to partisanship and dimestore pedagogy. People on this campus still spend too much time talking past each other and not enough time listening. The motto of this great University is “truth,” yet we too easily accept its ideological substitutes. All too often, in the opinion pages of this newspaper, in campus protests and classroom discussions, we see examples of people not trying hard enough to connect.

In last year’s terrible collapse, in that onrush of dirt and blood and ash, one truth should have seized us all: We cannot be agnostic about the future. We cannot believe that our choices do not matter. And we cannot make a better future, first and foremost, without listening.

As President Summers said, some truths are unassailable. But many assumed truths — and worn ideologies — need reexamination. We cannot be leaders or ideologues unless we are willing to defend our ideas, not by shouting others down, but by critically rethinking our perspectives. We cannot be teachers unless we are still willing to be taught.

One year later, the opportunity to transform, to listen, still stands. There is still a chance to seize this privilege by the reins, to use our time here to force ourselves to rethink.

We should be sorrowful on this somber day, but we should also use this moment, once again, to search for inspiration.