Ex Post: Fables by a Federal District Judge, Part I

Editor’s note: these fables and illustrations were originally published in Green Bag between 2013 and 2014.

The Fox’s Foundation

Fox was representing Hedgehog in a dispute over whether contractor Mole had properly supervised the workers repairing Hedgehog’s den. Fox called Hare as a witness and asked Hare whether Mole had supervised the workers properly. Opposing counsel Snake objected, claiming “Lack of foundation.” Judge Owl said to Fox, “You need to lay a foundation before I will permit that question.” Fox then proceeded as follows:

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Class of 2021, Welcome to HLS!

Dear 1Ls,

Welcome to Harvard Law School! It couldn’t be a more exciting time for you to start your legal career.

Your life from here on out will be different, and you will make a difference, whether you choose to do so through private practice, government, public interest advocacy, or anything else. This place will open doors for you, and once you get inside, you’ll have the opportunity to make an impact.

This issue of The Record is especially for you. It contains a variety of viewpoints from a variety of people on how to take advantage of your time here. Of course, some of the advice contradicts itself. Use the judgment that led you here.

The staff of The Record hopes that you will gain something from what we’ve put together: hope, inspiration, or even a sense of calm. We encourage you to honor your voice and your moral compass during your time here, because what you say and what you do matters to the legal world.

Again, welcome to HLS. We are so excited to have each of you join our readership and the legal community.

Sincerely,
Kate Thoreson, editor-in-chief

P.S. Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter @hlrecord to keep up with our latest stories and HLS news.

An Open Letter to the Class of 2021: On Mental Health by Viviana Hanley ’20, Student Mental Health Association Advocacy Committee member
Take Advantage of Opportunities to Learn at HLS by Larry Tribe ’66, professor
An Interview with I. Glenn Cohen ’03 by Kate Thoreson ’19, Record editor-in-chief
Being Queer at HLS Means Standing Up by Laura Older ’20 & Heather Pickerell ’20, Lamba co-presidents
Seek Affinity and Challenge Community by Ariel Ashtamker ’19, Josh Mathew ’19, Laya Maheshwari ’20, Radhe Patel ’20, Rajiv Narayan ’20, and Sabrina Singh ’20, SALSA members
Now That I’ve Got Your Attention, Here’s a Listicle! by Kate Thoreson ’19, Record editor-in-chief
Grab the Opportunity to Build a Better HLS by Leilani Doktor ’19, HLS Student Government co-president
The Quest for Worldliness by Daniel B. Rodriguez ’87, visiting professor
You Belong at HLS by Lauren Williams ’19, BLSA president
Remember Who You Are… and Where You Are by Zach Sosa ’19, HLAB communications director
Find Your Passions at HLS by Chloe Hawker ’19, BSA member
Make the Most of Your Time by Jessica Zhang ’19, Harvard Law Review member
Support Each Other at HLS and Beyond by Isabel Finley ’19 and Regina Powers ’19, WLA president and committee chair
Be Kind to Yourself and Others by Pantea Faed ’20 and Taha Wiheba ’20, MELSA co-presidents
Remember How to Be a Good Friend by Laurel Fresquez ’19 and Chloe Hawker ’19, Parody producer and writer
Challenge Yourself in Healthy Ways at HLS by Douglas Colby ’20, FedSoc vice president
Enjoy Yourself at HLS by Radhe Patel ’20, ACS vice president

Enjoy Yourself at HLS

Welcome to HLS! My name is Radhe Patel and I am Vice President of the Harvard Law School chapter of the American Constitution Society, or ACS. We are a community of progressive lawyers founded on the principle that the law should be a force to promote equality, access to justice, and improve the lives of all people.

I remember finding it hard to sift through all of the advice that was getting thrown at me at orientation without really having a full idea about what the heck was really about to happen in the coming year. To a large extent a lot it is just doing the thing—there are so many different ways to be successful and happy here, and so many resources that will be available to help you do it. Here are 3 things to think about during the ride.

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Challenge Yourself in Healthy Ways at HLS

Welcome to Harvard Law School! My name is Douglas Colby, and I am the VP of Membership for the Harvard Federalist Society. We are a group of conservatives, moderates, and libertarians who seek to provide respectful, open, and challenging debate at HLS. Additionally, we offer mentorship, academic and career support, and a strong community.

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Remember How to Be a Good Friend

Dearest 1Ls, welcome to what will be a roller coaster of three years. A Parodian’s tip for survival? Make friends and be a friend. Whether you are straight through from a state college or a real adult who worked for ten years with kids and everything, we all got to the same place. It is important that you remember that and treat those around you like people you can learn from and people who can learn from you, because they are! That mentality, and the friends you will make, will keep you sane and grounded in a place that sometimes attempts to put people on impossible pedestals. It is easier to make those friends when you treat everyone like equals—and that includes yourself.

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Be Kind to Yourself and Others

A lot of the following is advice that we received when we first started at HLS and some of it we learned along the way.

First, some practical advice. Buy your casebooks used, figure out which courses permit laptops for note taking purposes, and schedule your meals around lunch talks. Do your best to stay organised. Start a system early and try to stick with it, but whatever you normally do to keep your schedule, find a way to make note of personal and academic deadlines all in one place.

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Support Each Other at HLS and Beyond

Dear 1Ls,

Welcome to Harvard Law School!  Isabel is the President of the Harvard Women’s Law Association (WLA), and Regina is a Co-Chair of the Public Interest Committee.  The WLA is the law school’s largest student organization, reaching just under 300 members last year, and containing within it two affinity coalitions: the Queer Women’s Coalition and Women of Color Coalition.  Our 22 committees host or co-sponsor nearly 150 events each year, which provide professional development and networking, social and volunteer activities, as well as opportunities for women to develop skills as future leaders through planning our conferences and events.

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Make the Most of Your Time

Welcome to Harvard Law School and welcome to 1L year! After two full years of law school, I still feel like I’m just figuring it out. But here are a few tips I’ve picked up in my time.

You already know how to do this.

You’ve taken classes before, you’ve read books before, and you’ve taken finals before. And apparently, you did all those things well enough to get here. Don’t let people convince you that law school is somehow completely different – the details have changed, but the general idea is the same. If you study best in the library with noise-cancelling headphones, do that. If you’re better off reading on the couch with the Bachelor playing in the background, that’s fine too. You know yourself best.

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Remember Who You Are… and Where You Are

One of the most frequent (and important) pieces of advice you’ll get as a 1L is to remember who you are. Law school will inevitably change you – even after one year, you’ll learn a new vernacular (thanks Civ Pro), write differently (thanks CRUPAC), and even view everyday situations differently (thanks, Torts). So, this advice is key – as you immerse yourself in legal doctrine and general hecticness that is 1L, you shouldn’t forget the values and aspirations that brought you to this place. But one thing I would add to this refrain is that the communities you’re a part of are equally important to maintaining your sense of self.

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The Quest for Worldliness

Always treacherous to start out on an uncool note, but here goes:  I had a blast in my 1L year at law school.  To be more precise, I had a blast in my 1L year at the Harvard Law School.  And what I aimed to get out of it at the cusp of the new school year, in those muggy early September summer days, was something beyond a terrific exposure to the fundamentals of law and legal reasoning (check!).  It was an improvement in my worldliness.  I was craving greater worldliness, believing then, correctly in retrospect, that one of the great assets of coming to the extraordinary educational bazaar that is HLS is widening in spectacular (and often unexpected) ways one’s view of the world.

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Grab the Opportunity to Build a Better HLS

Walking into the hallowed halls of Harvard Law School, past the pillars of Langdell Hall, and under countless portraits of Supreme Court Justices can be a hefty experience for anyone and is especially weighty for new students. This establishment brings with it years of history, institutions, and tradition. But the secret of this place is that despite all the pomp, privilege, and circumstance—the thing HLS needs the most to continue being HLS is you.

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Now That I’ve Got Your Attention, Here’s a Listicle!

Dear 1Ls,

Welcome to Harvard Law! I know you’re all coming in with different backgrounds, expectations, and experiences, and that’s part of what makes HLS such a unique learning environment. I’m also aware that I wrote a similar piece last year, but I’ve changed a lot in the past year, and I certainly hope the same is true of all 2Ls and 3Ls who feel they have room for personal growth. That said, my advice this year will be less conventional than it was last year. What can I say? I’m a 3L now. This issue is full of great advice, and I’m just trying to fill in the gaps for you.

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Seek Affinity and Challenge Community

1L is as emotionally and spiritually challenging as it is academically rigorous. For many, the experience is marked by anxiety about cold calls and reading assignments. You’re also asked to make decisions about summer internships, activities, and classes well before you have a strong grasp of the law and legal profession. All of this pressure can strain your sense of identity, alienating you from who you are and where you’ve come from.

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