An Open Letter to Harvard Law Students

Alumni can make an important contribution to students presently enrolled in their alma mater by calling attention to frames of reference often unmentioned or little discussed at Harvard Law School as the curriculum focuses on developing analytic legal skills and discerning legal concepts. Some alumni wish that they were accorded these larger perspectives when they attended Harvard Law School. A brief mention of a few advisories that might enhance your grasp of the meaning of legal education in addition to legal training:

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Why Harvard Law School Matters: A New Critique

As Harvard Law School celebrates its 200th anniversary with two days on October 26 and 27 of events attended by hundreds of alumni, some law students, led by Pete Davis (’18), are inviting the Law School to engage in extra-ordinary introspection as it looks toward its Third Century.

Mr. Davis, after two years of observation, participation, conversation and research, has produced a major report titled Our Bicentennial Crisis: A Call to Action for Harvard Law School’s Public Interest Mission. Over the past sixty years, many of the beneficial changes at the law school were jolted, driven or demanded by a small number of organized students calling for clinical education, for women and minorities to be admitted as students and faculty, for more affordability, for more realism in their legal education and for more intellectual diversity among the professors (The critical legal studies scholars obliged them up to a point). Over time, the law school administration, with faculty persuasion, responded.

The bicentennial report by Pete Davis asks important questions about the law writ large square in the context of the law school’s long declared mission statement: “to educate leaders who contribute to the advancement of justice and the well-being of society.” Continue reading “Why Harvard Law School Matters: A New Critique”

Animals to Humans—Listen, Learn and Respect!

I have long wondered what the animal kingdom – mammals, reptiles, birds, fish and insects – would want to tell us humans if we and the animals had a common language?

Well, in a book I recently wrote,  Animal Envy, a “Human Genius” invents a digital translation application whereby animals can speak with each other across species and also speak one way to humans so they learn to listen. The response by “subhumans” was so overwhelming that the Human Genius reserved 100 hours of global TV time for the denizens of the natural world to tell their stories before mesmerized billions of humans all over the Earth.

An Elephant, Owl and Dolphin – sensing the need for some sort of production order and fair play – called themselves The Triad and convened the Great Talkout. Driven by the complexity of raising their young and surviving generation after generation, the animals, led by the wisdom of The Triad, developed a strategy born out of their keen sense of observing the human animal whom they internally called The King of Beasts.

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The Guardian Angel for America’s Motorists

America’s motorists are less safe today with the passing of their Guardian Angel—engineer/lawyer Clarence Ditlow, the Director of the Center for Auto Safety. The generating force behind the recalls of millions of defective motor vehicles, Mr. Ditlow pressured the federal auto safety agency and the auto companies with meticulous advocacy that was technically deep and morally powerful.

Calm, deliberate and a man of few words, this graduate of Lehigh, Georgetown Law and Harvard Law School bore down on wrongdoing, negligence and bureaucratic passivity with jack-hammer intensity year in and year out. While culpable auto executives were on the golf links, he was at his office on weekends assembling evidence about the causes of crashes and their human casualties, and preparing formal petitions and lawsuits demanding action. Continue reading “The Guardian Angel for America’s Motorists”

Ralph Nader to Dean Minow: Inform Students About Firm Violations

Dear Dean Minow,

I am writing to request your response, on behalf of Harvard Law School (“HLS”), to the important issues raised by an article published in the Harvard Law Record: Oliver Hall’s What HLS Students Should Know About the Law Firms Recruiting Them…and What the Law Firms Won’t Disclose. Although the article was published at the start of the 2015-2016 school year, HLS does not appear to have issued a formal response. I think you will agree, however, that the issues it raises not only merit a response, but also remedial action that should be undertaken without delay by HLS and law schools across the country.

Oliver Hall, the author of the article, is an attorney who has represented me in several matters. He tells the remarkable story of how he came to the conclusion, in one such case, that a law firm representing an opposing party “not only committed serious ethical violations, but also engaged in conduct which – knowingly or not – enabled a criminal conspiracy to succeed and evade detection.” Nonetheless, Mr. Hall reported, the law firm, Reed Smith, LLP, continues to participate in the On Campus Interview (“OCI) program at HLS, and “according to Assistant Dean for Career Services Mark Weber, the firm is expected to return to HLS this fall, when it will resume recruiting students who likely have no inkling of the relevant facts.” Continue reading “Ralph Nader to Dean Minow: Inform Students About Firm Violations”

The Majesty of the Law Needs Magisterial Lawyers

Below are remarks by Ralph Nader to the Connecticut Bar Association in 2013, republished by the Record this week:

Today, we gather as both attorneys and lawyers to contemplate our privileged profession. The many specialized workshops today are largely designed to better our role as “attorneys” – as attorning for our clients. Permit some words on our role as “lawyers” urged by our ethical canons and codes to strive for justice, to enlarge the peoples’ access to justice and to improve the administration of justice. Of the nearly one million licensed members of the bar nationwide, the bulk of our time obviously is devoted to being “attorneys” as compared with our time spent exercising wider duties as “lawyers.” Continue reading “The Majesty of the Law Needs Magisterial Lawyers”

The One Question Reporters Never Ask Candidates

Candidates for public office, especially at the state and national levels, are never asked this central question of politics: “Since the people are sovereign under our Constitution, how do you specifically propose to restore power to the people in their various roles as voters, taxpayers, workers and consumers?

Imagine that inquiry starting the so-called presidential debates of both the Republican and Democratic presidential candidates. I’m not sure any of the candidates – so used to saying “I will do this” and “I propose that” would even know how to respond. Regardless of their affiliation with either of the two dominant parties, politicians are so used to people being spectators rather than participants in the run-up to Election Day that they have not thought much about participatory or initiatory democracy. Too many of them, backed by the concentrated wealth of plutocrats, have perfected the silver-tongued skills of flattery, obfuscation and deception. Continue reading “The One Question Reporters Never Ask Candidates”