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.
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.
It is impossible to pin down what being queer at Harvard Law entails. The nature of intersectional identities means that every LGBTQ student’s experience is necessarily different. Our many identities—race, gender, class, and otherwise—have been, and continue to be, scrutinized by the law in very different ways. Our members fill all four corners of campus extracurricular life; you can find Lambda members in every affinity group, student practice organization, and journal. You will discover queer individuals engaged in very different work in in all pockets of our school. Our strengths as a community lie in the granularity of our differences. But we have done our best to condense three takeaways about what it means to be a queer 1L at Harvard Law.
This interview has been condensed and edited for length and clarity.
The Record: What is the first thing you would want an incoming 1L to know before they start?
I. Glenn Cohen: You belong. There is a huge tendency to self-discount and to feel ill at ease. You come from probably being the most successful person in the milieau in which you grew up or in which you went to college, to suddenly being surrounded by a huge number of other high achievers, and for me, I feel this pretty acutely. I’m a first-gen student myself. Neither of my parents finished high school. I remember feeling hugely intimidated when I walked through the doors of this place. The fact of the matter is our admissions office is amazing. They truly do pick amazing people with something to contribute, and there are a million different ways to contribute. People tend to be at their worst when they are feeling the anxiety of not belonging or measuring up, and at their best when they feel there is a vibrant community to support them.
The world you have entered as 1Ls is both daunting and exhilarating. Daunting mostly because ours is a time of broken politics, and – as most of you no doubt already know – the legal and political systems are densely interwoven. Exhilarating because you’re embarking on an adventure of learning about the most challenging puzzles of the legal process and the most innovative ways of tackling them, the areas in which human rights and needs are most neglected or overridden and the most effective ways to contribute to solving the problems underlying such conditions. As you’ll soon discover, those puzzles mix questions about history with moral and ethical challenges; questions about economics and behavioral science with inquiries into the limits of precision, modeling, and quantification; questions about geopolitics with matters of justice both domestically and internationally.
Welcome and congratulations, incoming 1Ls! We upperclassmen are excited to have you join us and begin contributing to the vibrant HLS community. As a rising 2L, I have 1L year fresh in my mind, and write on behalf of the Student Mental Health Association (SMHA) with five pieces of advice for you all at this commencement of your law school experience:
If you feel overwhelmed, know that you are not alone. A 2016 study by the American Bar Association found that 17% of law students experience depression and 37% experience anxiety. It is unfortunately common to feel overwhelmed at points during law school.You have to adjust to a new way of thinking and a new style of instruction. Many incoming students have been out of a classroom for years when they enter HLS. Some come with families, and all with relationships and obligations pulling in different directions. Whichever particular stressors affect you, remember that they are a product of your environment. Feeling stressed, sad, or confused is not an indication that you don’t belong here. It’s normal to have these feelings, and we hope to help students understand the ways that they can mitigate and manage them. Continue reading “An Open Letter to the Class of 2021: On Mental Health”→
Editor’s note: Jeanne-Rose Arn wrote this paper while she was an LL.M. student at HLS for a course called “The Fiction and Biography of Philip Roth: A Meditation on American Identity.” We present it here.
Goodbye, Columbus is a story about assimilation and about social ascension. But perhaps more importantly it is an initiation novella, in which, of course, Neil’s initiation relates to his assimilation and to his ascension. The story draws a circle, in a short period of time, from the moment he starts trying to be more assimilated, willing to defy his Jewish identity, to the moment he returns to his identity: “what was it inside me that had turned pursuit and clutching into love, and then turned it inside out again? What was it that had turned winning into losing, and losing – who knows – into winning?” (p. 135) The novella takes place during one summer; Neil is 23, he meets his first love, and he is confronted – maybe for the first time – to the real struggling life. It is a transitory summer of questioning, of experiences – an accelerated process of assimilation, during which everything happens “very fast” (p. 17) until he closes the circle.
This year, students debated different paths forward to increase public interest participation, including reforms to the Low Income Protection Program. As this 1977 Record archive article on future Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer’s proposal for income-based deferred tuition shows, this debate has been happening for a while.
“Pay Later” Schemes Debated
by Terry Keeney
April 15, 1977
The Law School faculty is currently considering proposals to allow students to defer paying tuition bills until after graduation.
The proposals, discussed at the March 30 faculty meeting, are far from the implementation stage. But if the Law School adopts some form of tuition deferral, students in the future may choose to obtain loans for all or part of their educational expenses. Then they would not be required to repay their loan obligations until as late as five or ten years after
graduation, when the rate of repayment would be determined by their income level.
Harvard Law School’s mission statement is “to educate leaders who contribute to the advancement of justice and the well-being of society.” We cannot advance justice and societal well-being without knowing the reality of what is going outside of our campus and case books. In an effort to bring one of these outside voices to campus, I asked William T. Oree, an incarcerated person and law clerk at Attica Correctional Facility to share his thoughts with the Harvard Law community.
Oree is serving twelve years to life at Attica. He is the founder, writer, and editor of The Prisoner’s Lampoon, a self-published prison comedy magazine; his work has also been published in The Harvard Lampoon. He and his comedy writing partner are shopping a pilot script called PEN * PALS to production companies in Los Angeles. He is the inventor of “jailhouse comedy,” a blend of edgy, often raw humor with a little Shakespeare thrown in for good measure.
Pete Davis, Harvard Law Record (PD): What inspired you to write to Harvard Law School students about indigent defendants and ineffective assistance of counsel?
William T. Oree (WTO): In a nutshell, I have to say mass incarceration. More specifically, the desire to repair our nation’s broken justice system motivated me to make lawyers aware that their normative practices were actually contributing to the fact that the United States locks up more of its citizens than either China or Russia.
Sadly, many of the incarcerated have received sub-par legal services because of defense attorneys who allow considerations of judicial economy to drive their professional and moral obligation instead of the other way around. Unlike medical practitioners, there is no Hippocratic Oath that holds lawyers to a “first do not harm” standard. Moreover, many state and federal courts agree that the standard of effective assistance of counsel should be evaluated in a normative fashion. That is, that courts accept the minimum standards and practices as recommended by the American Bar Association with the understanding that what is minimal is fair and rational. Unfortunately, in all too many cases, the law is neither fair nor rational. It’s hard to avoid seeing this in any other way than as a mechanism by which the courts protect attorneys from malpractice, prioritizing the professional well-being of licensed attorneys over the constitutionally mandated defense of our nation’s citizens. Continue reading “A Q&A with William T. Oree, law clerk and incarcerated person at Attica Correctional Facility”→
Editor’s note: We used a Google Form to conduct this poll, and as such, it was impossible to prevent 1Ls and 2Ls from voting without identifying all voters. The voters in this data set should not be treated as a sample size representative of the Class of 2018. It is possible that this poll was circulated in some social circles and not others, and we did not share it anywhere except on our website and on our Facebook page.
Several 3Ls asked for a poll about Jeff Flake as Class Day Speaker, and we’re happy to oblige. Don’t worry, there are options for everyone, and we’re not collecting e-mail addresses, so you should feel free to tell us how you really feel. The poll can be found here. Thanks for participating!
In anticipation of the Harvard Black Law Students Association’s 50th Anniversary Celebration in April 2018, the Harvard Journal on Racial & Ethnic Justice (formerly the Black Letter Journal) is coordinating an archival research project to discover the historical links that bind these two organizations. Through this research, JREJ and HBLSA have revealed common threads that transcend time. Whether one studied here in the 1970s or in the present day, Black law students at Harvard have forged an enduring legacy, sharing the same values, frustrations, and hopes for a brighter and more just future.
The Empire State Building. Rockefeller Center. Central Park. The Statue of Liberty. The Christopher St. stop on the Seventh Avenue Line.
And for the final establishing shot … the Chicago River.
What was A Christmas Prince director Alex Zamm or film editor Marshall Harvey thinking? Have they never been to New York? Or Chicago?
The Record apologizes for being late to the A Christmas Prince party, but unlike Netflix’s foray into Christmas movies, at least we’re not lost.
It’s hard to say whether anyone should watch this movie. On the one hand, it’s not a very good movie. On the other hand, it’s decently entertaining. Rose McIver, who plays heroine Amber Moore, somehow makes Amber seem reasonably believable despite the absolutely absurd premise of the movie.
I used a racial epithet in my last column. I didn’t mean to use one. It didn’t even occur to me that I had at the time. While sitting in my family’s home and digesting a holiday meal, I was thinking about which teams would come out on top in the upcoming football games. I wasn’t thinking about how my use of the name of the Washington, D.C. football team, the R-word, would denigrate an entire race of people. But none of that changes the fact that it did.
Week 12 started with the great tradition of Thanksgiving football. We’ve already watched the Vikings pull out a close one in Detroit, the Chargers dismantle the Cowboys in Dallas and the Redskins slay the Giants. Here are some additional matchups worth watching post-turkey coma.