In the Navy

BY KRIS DELLAPINA

People in the Navy JAG corps like to describe it as a world-wide law firm. The Navy Judge Advocate General’s (JAG) Corps is comprised of approximately 750 attorneys who serve as commissioned officers in pay grades ranging from lieutenant junior grade through rear admiral. They are stationed throughout the continental U.S., overseas and aboard ships.

As a JAG officer, you build attorney skills, exercise leadership and serve your country. You experience many areas of legal practice, form professional relationships with mentors and enjoy new friendships with colleagues.

Navy Judge Advocates have the unique opportunity to serve our country as naval officers while practicing the legal profession. After formal training and with appropriate supervision, new judge advocates are given the opportunity to perform as attorneys representing their own clients. Most of our new judge advocates begin their practice of law in a Naval Legal Service Office or Trial Service Office for a three-year tour.

Approximately 12 to 18 months of the new judge advocate’s first three years with the Navy JAG Corps will be spent working in criminal matters. This normally entails trying courts-martial as prosecutors or defense counsel. As a newly commissioned JAG Corps officer, you are responsible for the preparation and presentation of your own cases, thus experiencing the challenge of trial advocacy is yours from the outset.

The experience Navy judge advocates gain in this challenging environment includes presenting evidence, examining witnesses, delivering oral arguments, and preparing trial and appellate briefs. This hands-on experience and responsibility, generally acquired in your first tour of duty, will hone your advocacy skills and provide a strong background that will be drawn on for the remainder of your legal career. Judge advocates also gain experience as general practitioners by providing free legal assistance to military personnel and their families. Finally, new judge advocates have the opportunity, while administering tort-claims regulations, to negotiate and deal directly with civilian attorneys who represent individual clients and insurance companies.

At the end of four years as a naval officer, you will have enhanced your own advocacy style and discovered many things about yourself, such as what you really want to do as a practicing attorney. That could mean continuing your military career as an active duty or reserve naval officer, or it may mean reverting to civilian life, well pleased with your personal growth and professional achievements.

Applying for a commission as a Navy JAG Corps officer while you are a law student is the first step in this path of professional development and personal satisfaction.

[For more information or for applications, please log on to www.jag.navy.mil. For additional questions or to schedule an interview, please contact LCDR Kris Dellapina at 401-841-4378, ext. 136.]

Legal Aid moves out of Gannett House

BY LEA SEVCIK

The Legal Aid Bureau will no longer be sharing the cramped confines of Gannett House with the Law Review.

On August 16, the Bureau moved into new offices at Baker House, located between Pound and the Hark. It was a bittersweet move for the Bureau after 77 years of residence in Gannett House, the oldest surviving Harvard Law School building. Nonetheless, the Bureau badly needed the change.

Three-L Dan Gluck, current Chair of the Bureau, said that the main reason for the move was the need for more space. “Gannett House was our home for a long time and we loved it there, but considering that we have clients coming in all the time, we needed a space that was a little more professional, that looked more like a law office, and where we could talk with our clients in confidence,” he said.

Baker House, the former home of the Alumni Office, provides the Bureau with 40 percent more space than their old offices. Gluck said that Gannett House had only five doors that would close, and required the Bureau to share two offices with the Review. The Baker House location provides 12 offices, nearly doubling the Bureau’s capacity for meetings and private discussions with clients. The layout and renovations, including new carpeting, give the offices a clean, bright and spacious look much lacking from the old location.

Although the Bureau now has the space to expand its staff of 47 students, 5 half-time clinical instructors and one full-time managing attorney, Gluck said no expansion is planned in the near future. Any expansion that did take place would begin with the addition of supervising attorneys, who are already overworked, rather than with student staff.

Gluck said that although their new offices are “fabulous,” Bureau members will look fondly on their Gannett House experience. “It was a home away from home for Bureau members,” he said. “We enjoyed hanging out with the Law Review people — they were kind enough to share their bagels with us.”

Taking the Bureau’s place is the much-touted new Pro Bono office, headed up by former LIPP administrator Lisa Dealy. And for its part, the Law Review is likely to stay put.

Letter: Gun club aims at politics, not just targets

BY

In the Sept. 12 issue of The RECORD, Sasha Volokh responded to an op-ed that I wrote last spring. My piece discussed how I have no problem with gun clubs that simply take their members target-shooting. The HLS Target Shooting Club, however, declares in its constitution that it aims to help students “intelligently contribute to the public policy and constitutional debate on firearms.” I believe that Sasha’s club has made unhelpful contributions to this debate, and that it can do better.

The club’s main contribution so far has been Sasha’s public encouraging of conservatives to thumb their nose at liberals by supporting gun usage. For example, Sasha told the Harvard Law Bulletin that he started the club to see if he “could get some people steamed up” in Harvard’s “quite liberal” environment. In The Economist, he discussed his view that “enthusiasm for guns is a form of counter-cultural rebellion, rather like smoking cigars.” In the Harvard Crimson, Sasha stated that he “was hoping for some outrage” when he founded the club.

I believe that Sasha’s club can make a far more valuable contribution to the gun debate by de-emphasizing the political and cultural divisions that surround guns and instead encouraging substantive discussions on gun policy. The club began this process by holding a debate last spring, and I hope that process continues. Though Sasha and I have divergent views on the benefits and risks of guns, I think we agree that the gun debate will benefit from a less confrontational and more substantive level of discussion.

However, I must decline Sasha’s invitation to go shooting with his organization. If the club were merely a target-shooting club, I might be interested. But the club is also an advocacy organization that has adopted numerous public stances with which I disagree. Furthermore, nearly every news article on the club provides a tally of its “membership.” I do not want to be counted as a member of an organization whose leader publicly promotes gun use as a way to “get some people steamed up.” I would rather join Sasha in sponsoring intelligent debates than in shooting off.

— Daniel Swanson, 3L

Letters from Berkeley: The simplicity of senselessness

BY COLLEEN CHEN

In the course of my summer living and working in Belgium, I came across a small monastic community in the Ardennes, led by a Dutch shaman with an eclectic past — a former United Nations employee in the Middle East, who then became a Sufi master for a dozen years before beginning his own teachings.

I had gone to Belgium almost randomly — following a course powered by what I call “intuitive decisionmaking.” Basically, this just means that I have no rational goals in mind when faced with a choice, except that something just “feels right.” And it means also that it’s impossible to make a wrong choice.

Of course, this form of decisionmaking has its drawbacks. When it came to my summer job, it had me going to a small human rights nongovermental organization in a yuppie city, where I was getting little money and no legal training and where the most prestigious contact I made was with the Belgian leader of the largest UFO-related religious movement in Europe.

But, that’s beside the point. Belgium was where my intuition took me, and by my first weekend there I’d already discovered this shamanic ashram, where the basic philosophy was that the only thing we can really know is that there is something greater that we’re a part of. The nature of this is beyond our comprehension, so we might as well vibrate at love.

What made the whole experience at this ashram so unique was how devoid it was of an intellectual, analytical, rational grounding. Being in this vibration — basically, being surrounded by people who shared this perspective — allowed me to open up and enjoy the panoply of strange experiences to be had. I participated in daily meditations where we shook rattles and made low humming noises, meant to integrate the right and left brains. I went on Alice-in-Wonderland-like shamanic dream journeys led by the sexy head monk, meant to expand my “causal vision,” that deeply intuitive sight that’s freed of the emotionally charged filters that normally control the way we see the world. I entered “deep states of annihilation” in a longer ritual featuring the shaman ringing bells. They drummed and rattled in what appeared to my incense-drugged consciousness to be some strange parody of a Salvation Army Santa, accompanied by images of Hello Kitty and other “power animals” dancing across my brain, and a sensation that the borders of my body were dissolving.

The simplicity of the senselessness worked. The total lack of judgment from those around me was amazing — an example of this was that one woman I made friends with told me that she didn’t even notice I was Asian for a week! The open-hearted philosophy, the idea of compassion with detachment, allowed transcendence of judgments.

Being one of those people with a world savior complex, I asked the shaman at one point how one person could most effectively change society. And why, I asked, were the great “realized” people of all spiritual traditions unable to end conflicts, since supposedly they’d evolved to a state where their will could move mountains?

“If you think of yourself as a drop in the ocean, it’s impossible to change the ocean,” he told me. “If you think of yourself as the ocean, then whatever you do, you’re changing the ocean.”

Implicit in his response was the answer to my other question. Thinking of conflicts or disasters impending or realized as separate from the whole “ocean” of human experience, as problems to be solved like cancers to be removed from a body, was an attitude that could only have limited success. Addressing only one problematic piece of the totality in isolation from the rest doesn’t get to the source of the problem, merely perpetuating a state of disequilibrium. That source lies in the imbalance of the whole, and therefore can only ever be solved by looking at the whole.

This perspective is what I got from my summer. So I’ve begun my third year now as an exchange student at Boalt, trying to maintain this attitude — of being the ocean, not getting caught up in the worries of what on earth I’ll be qualified to do or what I’ll even want to do after this year is over. The idea is that as the ocean, my lifeforce flows out to balance where balance is needed, and I don’t have to control anything. Opportunities will appear, and the universe will provide the means to take my next steps.

It’s a wonderful idea — to let go and stop fighting, as a drop, for footholds in water. Intellectually the idea doesn’t seem too compatible with a legal career, but with a little shift in perspective it makes all the sense in the world.

RECORD editorial: JAG issue demands action

BY

Though quite rare for Harvard Law School, public opinion on the JAG issue seems near-unanimous. Most students are against “don’t ask, don’t tell,” and would prefer that HLS be able to enforce its non-discrimination policy in full — meaning that JAG could not be part of the on-campus interviewing process. Indeed, most are outraged that the Bush administration chose, via a reinterpretation of the Solomon Amendment, to muscle the University into allowing JAG on campus.

Perhaps most surprising, though, is the degree to which students have accepted Dean Robert Clark’s justification for allowing JAG back without a legal battle.

Clark rightfully described the issue as one of money — to say anything else would insult the community’s intelligence.

And the issue concerned quite a lot of money. By threatening to withold $328 million in University funds, the Bush administration offered HLS and the University a choice — to either allow JAG on campus, or face, almost literally, its extinction. Government grants not only comprise 16 percent of the University’s total budget, but make up a vastly higher portion of the budget of certain schools, such as the Medical School, which receives a majority of its funds from government grants. Losing this money, as far as the University’s future was concerned, was simply not an option.

The choices for HLS were limited. The Law School could thumb its nose at the government’s threat and continue to keep JAG out of OCI. It could try to fight the government in the courts. Or, the Law School could concede, as it did, and try to attack the issue in other ways.

Apparently, Lambda and the general population have accepted the logic of pursuing the third option. Fighting the issue in court was unrealistic — Clark and the the University’s lawyers were convinced that HLS could lose. Similarly, a game of “chicken,” in which the Law School would dare the government to withold funds, would be equally ineffective, as well as totally irresponsible.

Word on the inside has it that Clark has taken this issue very personally. This decision was made over a long period of time, and included meetings at the highest levels of the University and the U.S. government, including a Washington, D.C. rendezvous with National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice. HLS did what it could, and, it appears, it lost.

Yet there still appears to be a lack of outrage on behalf of students. While allowing JAG on campus is largely symbolic — the HLS Veterans’ Association was already bringing military recruiters to campus — most students seem unconcerned with the government’s strong-arm tactics. They are right not to be outraged at the administration, but, regardless of where one stands on the JAG issue, there ought to be a sense of outrage.

As for what comes next, it appears that student protesters will likely fill all of JAG’s OCI slots, rendering their participation meaningless. It is an unfortunate situation for the JAG recruiters themselves, who, like the rest of the military, have absolutely no control over the congressionally dictated “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. Hopefully protesting students will express their anger and disapproval for the policy appropriately, remembering to direct their anger at those with the power to do something about it.

HLS also should take steps to protect the rights of those students who are genuinely interested in JAG. Those students have every right to serve their country, and deserve to be treated with respect and dignity as well. If all JAG OCI slots are taken, the Law School should take steps to make alternate interviewing arrangements for students who are caught in the ideological crossfire.

Dance: Where to get your groove on

BY

For some reason, when people start talking about clubbing, they get a bizarre urge to state the obvious. In honor of those people (and to save a few frustrating conversations, I’ll do it for you: Boston is not New York City. Shocked? Didn’t think so. This city is smaller, it has a very college-skewed population, and as such, its options, dance-wise, are different than some other metro areas. But that doesn’t make it all bad.

It’s also no secret that the dominant factor in a positive club experience is the music. So (and this is especially for all you techno-haters out there) here is a smattering of some of the better and lesser-known venues, broken down (predominantly) with music, mood and attitude in mind.

Hip-Hop

Finding a good hip-hop club in Boston isn’t quite as hard as, say, finding a liquor store open on Sunday, but it does take some looking. The most likely sources of hip-hop are the college clubs, which tend to heavily favor the less-innovative fare popular on MTV.

But if you want a hip-hop night somewhere other than Nellyville, you can always spend your Tuesdays and Thursdays at Aria, a swank Tremont Street lounge whose tiny dance floor packs quickly when its top-notch sound system starts booming. The $15 cover is a bit steep for Boston, but the plush layout, top quality DJ talent, and champagne-sipping, flossed-out fellow clubgoers make it worth the investment.

If you’re planning a trip to Vertigo, a small club a stone’s throw from Faneuil Hall, you might want to pack the black pants, but you can check your pretension at the door. The well-dressed, friendly crowd frequents this no-frills club for one thing and one thing only: dancing. If you plan to sit in the corner and sulk, slink away to the pub around the corner instead.

Karma lets in the 18-year-olds on Thursday nights, which can be a little frustrating. The good news is that the dance floor is big enough that you can avoid them, and the panoply of other clubs on the Lansdowne strip offer a lifeline for when the teenybopper set gets too ridiculous.

On Thursday and Friday nights, The Exchange is usually a safe bet. Not quite as hot right now as Aria and Vertigo, this club draws a crowd worth looking at with music good enough to keep you on the dance floor.

The Emily’s/SW1 complex tries to bridge the gap between a college club and a more upscale joint. Its DJs cater heavily to the masses, its crowds tend heavily toward starched-shirt former fratboys and the women who love them, and its dance floor isn’t the most roomy. Still, the cover is cheap (women often get in free), the drinks are strong, and novices won’t feel like their dance skills can’t compete.

College Clubs

For obvious reasons, various sorts of Irish bars fronting as nightclubs tend to be a predominant mode of entertainment for Boston’s college crowd, and that makes going to them fairly unavoidable. Allston’s The Kells has some things going for it — it’s big, its crowd is cute enough, and it’s a cheap cab ride away from HLS. Plus, with two floors, at least one usually has something pleasantly unoffensive playing,

The same is true of An Tua Nua, a slightly more upscale bar competing for the Kells’ business.

Less can be said of Faneuil Hall’s Coogan’s, a sticky, sweaty overcrowded mess on any weekend night, and Jose McIntyre’s, where the bored (or maybe ambitious) can dance, get roaring drunk and watch sports on giant screen TVs all on the same dance floor. The perfect place for dropping the H-bomb, and one of few where that pathetic tactic might work.

Over here in Cambridge, Phoenix Landing actually offers a little of both. This Central Square hangout draws heavily on the college set, and its interior is nothing to write home about. However, it’s known to draw some top-notch drum and bass DJs, and better yet, it’s only a long stumble or short cab ride back to Harvard Square.

And of course, if your only goal is getting sloshed and scheming on Harvard affiliates of one stripe or another, you can’t ignore the upstairs of the Hong Kong, where fairly consistent, if predictable, mainstream hip-hop can be heard throughout the weekend. Just don’t be surprised if you wake up the next morning next to someone you know.

To expand your horizons outside of HLS, but not too far from the gutter, there’s always the extremely festive Big Easy/Sugar Shack complex in the alley on Boylston street. Again, expect mainstream hip-hop and Top-40, oversized Bud Lights, and boozed-up college kids. It may not be glossy, but it nonetheless can be a good time if you’re in the mood for it.

Glitz, Glamour and Techno

If you’re a 1L with a pulse, HL Central or someone similar has probably already wooed you to Pravda, whose glossy look, impressive liquor selection and decked-out international crowd can’t compensate for generally abysmal house DJs.

Electronica fans would be better served by Avalon, Boston’s largest and probably best nightclub, where big-name stars like Paul Van Dyk and others are known to tear it up at the popular Avaland party. Roxy and Venu, two of the other biggest clubs in the area, also draw the beautiful people with regularity, with top-notch DJs to boot.

Cambridge itself has one of the area’s best clubs in Manray, an upscale club for people tired of the same old thing. Friday fetish nights are the most impressive — wear all black or something outrageous or expect not to get in the door — and Thursday’s gay-friendly Campus party is one of the area’s hottest college scenes.

Across the street from the Sugar Shack and Big Easy in the Boylston alley is La Boom, whose opulent interior (and equally pretty crowd) suffers from abysmally inconsistent music. The dance floor is large, and bars are easily accessible, but if you’re looking to dance, it doesn’t cut it.

Robert Reich speaks at Harvard

BY CLINTON DICK

Shortly before losing last night’s Massachusetts gubernatorial primary to State Treasurer Shannon P. O’Brien, former labor secretary Robert Reich wrapped up his campaign for the Democratic nomination with a speech to an eager crowd of over 100 Harvard students in the University’s Science Center. Reich marked the address with a strong emphasis on what he saw as three crises in Massachusetts. He began with an issue familiar to most candidates seeking political office this year: fiscal responsibility.

“The state,” Reich said, “has chosen to balance the budget on those with the least political power.” He argued that with taxes high and quality of government low, there is an opportunity for real reform in the system.

Reich also highlighted the cynicism of the electorate toward government, which he saw as the biggest enemy for reforming the system, underscoring the challenge he would have as governor in keeping the public motivated and engaged in the political realm.

The final crises Reich accentuated were the social injustices that he sees as contributing to the ever-widening chasm between rich and poor. Reich argued that in more and more families, both spouses are working full time but are still below the poverty line. He urged the assembled crowd “to spend at least part of your life . . . in battle for social justice.”

At one point in his speech, Reich imparted how he was influenced to run for governor after visiting a University religion class at the end of last year. As he walked out of the class into Harvard Yard thinking about September 11th and the life of the mind, Reich said he decided then and there to run for governor of Massachusetts.

Reich concluded his comments with a look to the election. “The public is yearning . . . for somebody who is telling it like it is, has ideas . . . and is taking some stands that may not be popular,” such as gay marriage and raising the capital gains tax, he said. “I cannot guarantee we will win on Tuesday, but I can say I feel a great wind at my back.”

Initial reactions from several students after the speech were positive. “I was particularly impressed by his desire to champion the cause of grass-roots organizations and to bring a sense of responsibility to individual communities and their ideals,” 1L Danielle Osler said.

Mike McCarthy, an undergraduate at Harvard, admitted that going into the speech he unsure about Reich as a candidate. But, he said, “the more I hear him speak, the more I am inclined to vote for him.”

Sonia Kastner, president of Harvard College Democrats, said she was pleased with Reich’s comments on budget changes and on what constitutes a leader. “I was extremely impressed with him.”

After his defeat, a message on Reich’s web site sounded a conciliatory note. “Every one of you should be proud of what we accomplished,” it said. “We didn’t attack, didn’t resort to negatives, always kept our eyes on the ideas and vision we shared for the future, stayed honest, brought thousands of people into politics who’d never been involved before or who hadn’t been involved in many years, and raised issues that needed to be raised.”

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

“if”–A poem by Mark Byers, Director, Office of Student Life Counseling

BY

If you can keep your head when all about you,

Are losing theirs in every interview,

If you can trust yourself when recruiters doubt you,

But make allowance for their doubting, too;

If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,

And though keen to please, refrain from lies;

Or being rated, don’t worship rating,

You’ll sound your best, yet be truly wise.

If you can dream of jobs, and not make jobs your master;

If you can think like a lawyer, and not make that your aim;

If you can meet the firm of Triumph and Disaster

And treat those two partners just the same;

If you can bear the words you’ve spoken

Twisted by interviewers to make a trap for fools,

Or watch the resume you crafted broken

To fit someone else’s rules;

If you can make a heap of all your offers,

And once you’ve slept on it, risk one with the toss

Of a coin, and start again at the beginning,

and if it’s a mistake, write off your loss;

If you can call a headhunter, when your heart and sinew

Have served their turn and are nearly gone,

And so hold on when there is nothing in you

Until the time comes to say at last – “So long!”

If you can work for clients and keep your virtue,

Or lunch with partners – nor lose the common touch,

If inflated egos cannot hurt you,

If all assignments count with you, but none too much;

If you can fill the unforgiving minute

With 60 seconds worth of billing, yet have some fun,

And have a life and love all who share in it,

You’ll have fought the odds and won!

(Apologies to Rudyard Kipling!)

The Office of Student Life Counseling provides counseling services for all law students. The office is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays. Call 495-2967 for an appointment.

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).

HLS responds to racial incidents

BY CLINTON DICK

Five months after a race controversy exploded on the Law School campus, the administration debuted its formal response. In a Sept. 6 letter to the law school community, Deans Robert Clark, Suzanne Richardson and Todd Rakoff outlined several initiatives designed to improve racial tolerance and ease the tension that erupted last spring.

In what may be regarded as an attempt to set a new tone for the academic year, Clark outlined his four initiatives designed to improve the law school’s ability to communicate about race, religion and gender. The first initiative is the formation of a Dean’s Committee on Healthy Diversity, which is made up of six faculty members, including Prof. Alan Dershowitz and Dean Todd Rakoff, three other administrators and five students.

Professor Martha Field, who chairs the committee, said their goal would be to “figure out what the real problems are and how we can help resolve them.” One area she highlighted was a lack of communication between faculty and students. “Faculty can inadvertently do things that offend students,” she said, adding that she hopes the committee can find a way to resolve such problems.

Field also emphasized that the committee will not just be looking at race. “The same thing can happen with religion and sexual orientation,” she said. “Women do not necessarily feel comfortable at Harvard Law.”

When asked about the possibility of constructing a new Law School racial harassment policy, Field said that the committee will be examining the issue, but that it was more difficult than simply writing a policy. “There are questions of legality, partly because the Supreme Court has been confusing on this,” she said. “The two problems in adopting such a policy are getting faculty agreement on any formulation and sidestepping all the legal questions that are not yet settled.”

The committee will have its first meeting on Monday, and Field said that students with questions are welcome to e-mail her.

The other initiatives in the Dean’s letter include a “difficult conversations” workshop, a teaching workshop and several presentations to the Law School community on race, religion and gender. In an interview with The RECORD, Rakoff said these programs are a way “to think about the things that happened last year and to address

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.

Resurrecting the star chamber

BY CLIFFORD GINN

The Supreme Court recently decided to all but abolish Fifth Amendment rights for prisoners, apparently believing that false confessions are fine, as long as they come from inmates. In McKune v. Lile, the Court upheld a Kansas prison regulation that required sex offenders to participate in a rehabilitation program or else suffer transfer to a maximum security prison facility, with severe limitations on virtually all of their freedoms. This is the same sanction prisoners receive for such infractions as rape, assault and arson. As part of the program, prisoners must confess their crimes and provide written sexual histories, including uncharged criminal offenses. A lie detector confirms the accuracy and completeness of the confessions. Kansas provides no immunity for the statements, and prison officials must report to law enforcement any disclosed sex offenses against minors.

The rationale goes something like this: Rehabilitation is a legitimate penalogical interest. Honesty with therapists and acceptance of responsibility for crimes are crucial for successful rehabilitation. While prisoners have some rights, they are less than those of other citizens, and must yield to legitimate state interests. There are cases that do not find compulsion when an inmate or defendant faces an increased possibility of receiving the death penalty, so this isn’t so bad. Therefore, unless the punishment “constitute[s] atypical and significant hardships in relation to the ordinary incidents of prison life,” it will be deemed insufficiently coercive to compel self-incrimination. It should be noted that the Supreme Court does not consider 30 days in punitive segregation — a brutal, dehumanizing punishment uniformly condemned by every human rights organization I know of — to be “atypical.”

Justice O’Connor’s concurrence provided the fifth vote. She said it would take less than the plurality’s standard to compel self-incrimination, but she didn’t consider the punishment in this case sufficiently coercive, given the record before her.

As Justice O’Connor and the dissent note, the plurality (you know who they are) gets the precedents all wrong. There are four lines of relevant cases. Under the “choice cases,” in a criminal trial, the government may reward testimony, but it cannot punish or give evidentiary weight to silence. In a non-criminal proceeding, the government may command testimony, but only if it provides immunity against prosecution based on that testimony. The government may also give appropriate evidentiary weight to silence in such a proceeding. If the government equates silence with guilt, and automatically imposes punishment, then the case becomes a “penalty case,” and the question is whether the penalty was such that it would compel a reasonable person to incriminate herself.

The plurality treats this as a “choice case,” even though the automatic punishment makes it a “penalty case.” The cases they reference, where an individual’s silence increased his likelihood of receiving the death penalty, were choice cases, making the comparison of the death penalty with the punishment opposed in this case inapposite. Furthermore, both O’Connor and the plurality refuse to acknowledge both the extraordinarily coercive nature of the imposed restrictions on freedom, restrictions calculated to compel inmates to abstain from committing the most egregious offenses, and the coercion that arises from the increased danger to an inmate’s bodily integrity that a transfer to maximum security entails.

A nationwide survey of prisons reveals that prisoners face substantial threats to life and bodily integrity. One federal court found a “culture of sadistic and malicious violence” prevailed in Texas prisons. In 1998, 59 inmates were killed by other inmates, and 6,750 inmates required medical attention as a result of prison violence. As many as 70 percent of all inmates are assaulted every year. Extrapolation from studies suggests that 140,000 male inmates have been raped, and numbers are higher for female inmates. Violent gangs exist in every prison system, and both the unwillingness of prison officials to entertain inmate complaints and of prosecutors to prosecute prison crimes leads to dramatic underreporting of this violence. It seems certain that most of these horrors occur in maximum security prisons, where inmates are more violent, more inmates share a cell, inmates have less money, and more inmates are part of gangs.

If an indigent inmate wants to prove that a threat to place him in such an inferno is coercive, Justice O’Connor apparently expects him to compile data that even well-funded social scientists find difficult to obtain (the plurality would not even change their minds on such a record). This is not unlike the Supreme Court’s conditioning Miranda rights on the requirement that indigent criminal defendants have sufficient familiarity with the U.S. Reports to know the precise words to intone when they ask for a lawyer. This makes a mockery of our criminal justice system, and as is so often the case with this Court’s decisions, the burdens will fall most heavily on those with the least power in our society.

The firms are coming! (Don’t freak out.)

BY

An Introduction to the On-Campus Interview Program

It is as sure a sign of fall in New England as the brilliant foliage – Harvard Law students in suits, hurrying toward the local hotels, clutching printouts of employer websites and glancing desperately at their watches. The sense of excitement is palpable. Hundreds of students and hundreds of employers meet for a common purpose – to make a match. Employers are looking to tap Harvard’s rich talent pool and students are seeking an opportunity to take the next step toward a legal career by entering the world of practice.

This decades-old tradition is the fall On-Campus Interview Program (OCI), the most visible of the Office of Career Services’ numerous job search programs. The purpose of this article is to de-mystify the OCI process and help students prepare for the intense, exciting and stressful weeks ahead.

Sorting Fact From Fiction

With more than 700 employers participating in OCI, Harvard Law School hosts the largest legal recruitment program in the country. Despite the economic slowdown, the demand for Harvard students remains strong. If nothing else, students can take comfort in the fact that, given there are 550 or so students in a class (and that the vast majority of 3L students don’t participate in OCI) the odds are in your favor!

With such a large, intense and complex process at work, rumors and misinformation are sure to circulate, and OCS often hears them. Let’s address some of the common fears and misperceptions.

“In this market, finding a job will be impossible.”

We have been in touch with firms around the country to discuss their hiring plans. In addition, we have been actively researching and monitoring news about the legal employment market. While this will be a challenging market compared to years such as 1999, there is also ample reason for optimism. Certain firms and certain regions continue to cut back, but this is not universal. Last year saw many significant across-the-board reductions in the size of summer programs, reflecting the need to adjust for what was, in retrospect, over-expansion in the late Ô90s. Despite this, the 2001 OCI program was quite successful. While the office has heard of firms planning further reductions, this news is balanced by firms planning to increase class size. Students may need to compromise on firm, region or specialty, but a well thought out effort should yield a great job.

“Firms won’t even look at students who don’t have certain grades.”

There is no pre-screening in the bidding process. Career Services guidelines require that all HLS students, given their level of achievement and talent, should have an opportunity to interview with the employers of their choice during OCI. Most employers consider grades as only one factor among many in the hiring process – they are well aware of the rigorous selection process that goes on just to become a member of the HLS class.

This is not to say that grades don’t matter. The most sought-after employers in the most selective markets have an abundant choice of highly qualified students. They have the luxury of choosing only from the top of a class. Keep this in mind when you choose employers for interviews. It is a risky strategy to talk to only these employers.

“You don’t get to interview with the employers you want.”

OCS uses a lottery system to assign interviews to students after the process of selecting employers, or “bidding” for interview spots, occurs. A scheduling algorithm in the bidding program attempts to maximize students’ top choices, taking care not to conflict with academic class schedules, which are exported directly from the registrar’s office to the Career Services system. Do not let this apparent lack of control over your destiny make you uncomfortable. A breakdown of past statistics shows that students typically get 70 percent of the interviews they request. In addition, resumes for all the students who bid on an employer are forwarded to the employer. A student who does not get an interview is placed on a waiting list and may get a spot after the period for modifying schedules. In addition, you can contact an employer directly to try to arrange alternatives.

“The best way to insure success is to interview like crazy.”

Students too often believe that the best way to approach OCI is to bid for the greatest number of interviews possible. A more thoughtful, targeted approach is likely to be more successful and is certain to be less stressful.

As a reference point, during last year’s interview season, 2Ls interviewed with an average of 18 to 22 employers. Three-Ls, who are still sorting out their options or redirecting their job search, typically interview with nine to ten employers. (Many employers do not interview 3Ls, having satisfied their hiring needs from their summer class.) Rather than signing up to fill every available waking hour, be realistic. Taking into account the market and your law school record, sign up for an appropriate range and number of firms. Sign up for some sought-after top choice firms, but be sure to include other alternatives.

“There is no way to know what my odds are.”

Unfortunately, the OCI process can only provide opportunity, not certainty. OCS has a notebook of recruitment statistics that records the number of students who bid on each employer, the number of interviews assigned, the number of callback invitations extended and the number of employment offers extended. The information is also available on the OCS website, located at www.law.harvard.edu/ocs. These numbers provide a statistical perspective on employers and what their callback processes may yield. Unfortunately, the statistics can’t provide information about many important factors that influence firms’ decisions – such as how a student interviews – and their academic performance, previous experience and general levels of achievement. The statistics can give you a general sense of how many seek, how many are called and how many are chosen.

Getting ready for OCI

With a more accurate understanding of OCI you are ready to take the next step: preparing for the bidding process.

There is more than one way to tackle the OCI process. A surprisingly popular method goes something like this: A student looks up, sees an OCS poster on a board at the Hark and remembers that he better get his OCI bids in this weekend. On Monday evening, the night before bidding closes, he sits down at his computer. Based on a general sense that he would like to be in a city and on comments from his classmates that the best jobs are in D.C. and New York, he opens the site, searches by city and then looks over the ensuing list of D.C. and N.Y.C. firms to pick names he recognizes. Since he only recognizes two or three names in each city, he surfs over to the AmLaw 100 to get the names of other “top” firms. Satisfied that he has selected the best firms, he submits his bid. This is not the method Career Services recommends.

That said, it might well work out for this student. He may stumble on a great firm, well suited to him, in a city that he enjoys. But if he does, it will be purely by chance. Of course, there is always an element of chance and uncertainty in the job search process, but your goal should be to reduce the element of surprise and shift the odds in your favor. Below are some suggestions for how to do this.

Do a Basic Self-Assessment

First, take some time to think about what you truly want. The OCI process is a whirlwind experience, even for the most organized students. Resist the forces that cause you to lose sight of what makes you happy and focus instead on where you think you are most likely to succeed personally and professionally. Without pausing to assess your personal needs and talents, you may find yourself in a job that is empty and unfulfilling. Sorting through this kind of complex and personal issue is a highly individ
ual process. Use the methods that work for you. Some suggestions:

Try to recall what you liked and disliked about previous employment. Sit down and get the list on paper. Try to capture the underlying qualities that were important. For example, if you enjoyed editing your school paper, was it because the deadline pressure was invigorating or because you like the detail work of copyediting or because the people were great?

Engage in active discussion with friends, family and professors. Listening to the experience of others, as well as trying to clarify and articulate your own thoughts to others, can be enormously helpful.

Talk with the career services professionals here at the Law School. All of the OCS Career Counselors have their J.D. and have worked in a variety of practice areas, practice venues and geographic locations. The OCS staff has been through on-campus interviewing programs both as students and now as professional career counselors. Take advantage of their experience and expertise.

Attend panels, programs and receptions offered in conjunction with OCI and engage visiting attorneys and panelists in discussion. You can also use the alumni resource network available in OCS and the various mentoring files maintained by the Office of Public Interest Advising.

If you still find yourself uncertain, the Office of Student Life Counseling offers professional counseling to assist you with self-assessment.

Research and Select Employers

Although the legal marketplace has slowed, OCS has seen only a small reduction in the number of employers participating in OCI. You will still be faced with a daunting task as you try to sort through hundreds of employers. A number of strategies and resources exist that can assist you in learning more about employers.

OCS WEBSITE

To begin your research, be sure to visit the OCS website at www.law.harvard.edu/ocs. The website provides links to a variety of useful online resources as well as descriptions of hard copy resources available at the OCS office. Available on-line are the HLS On-line Employer Directory, the National Association for Law Placement Directory, Lawmatch.com, Lexis, Westlaw, Infirmation.com, HLS Student Summer Job Evaluations and the Vault Report of the “Top 100 Law Firms.” These resources, as well as other available in the OCS office, provide detailed information so that you are planning your career based on considered information, and not simply the perceived prestige of your potential employer.

EMPLOYER WEBSITES

Admittedly, you would find it a challenge to look at the website of every potentially interesting employer before you make bid decisions, so you may need to be selective at this stage. However, you should never enter an interview without first looking at the employer’s site. If time is limited, look for certain basic information so you will not appear obviously unprepared. Suggested areas: employer size, practice areas, location of branch offices, any information about summer programs (if that is what you are interested in) and whatever they showcase on the main page.

THE CALLBACK

Callback interviews, the second round of interviews when an employer invites you to the office to meet and interview with a number of other attorneys, offer a unique opportunity to assess firm culture and get a least a sampling of personalities with whom you may work. But to take advantage of this opportunity, you need to be prepared.

Perhaps the major student complaint about callbacks is that they seem undifferentiated – one firm seems like the next. The problem is usually that students take the wrong approach – they ask questions and listen for the reply. Because answers are likely to be shaped by an understanding of what students want and expect to hear, replies can sound remarkably similar. A better approach is to trust your instincts. Look beyond the words to get a sense of the place. How do people interact with each other? What are the offices like? How does the employer’s work setting feel to you? Formal? Quiet? Intense? Collegial? What adjectives would you use to describe the people? Equipped with a good sense of the firm, you need to determine whether this is a good fit. Ask yourself some crucial questions. What type of people do you enjoy working with? What environment is most comfortable for you and/or what environment promotes your success and productivity? Bearing these questions in mind during the callback process, you will make a more informed employment decision.

Create a “Plan B”

In light of the current market, after you have identified your ideal employers in your ideal market, you should also follow the old adage to “assume the best but prepare for the worst.” If your first choice options do not work out, what do you want to do? Again, this is a personal decision that demands that you prioritize your desires. Which is most important: a firm’s prestige, the city, the practice area or something else? Where will you compromise? You may prefer a national firm located in a less sought-after city or you may be determined to settle in a given area even if you must compromise on the employer.

Incorporate appropriate options into your bidding plans. Many fine employers who visit Harvard are overlooked because they are not well known or because they do not fit the current fashion.

Finally, Take a Moment to Think Outside the OCI Box

Are there places you should be looking outside the OCI process? Many law firms and other employers that may interest you will not participate in OCI. Many smaller firms do not have the resources to make the trip to Cambridge. Other mid-sized or more geographically remote employers feel they cannot compete for your attention, so they allocate their resources elsewhere. If you need help locating these employers, look for the OCS programs on “Finding a Job Outside OCI” offered in the fall or make an appointment to see an advisor. Rest assured, these employers would love to receive a resume and cover letter from you. Please seek them out. A good cover letter can achieve a lot, especially if you send it far enough in advance of Flyout Week to schedule some of your own interviews with these employers. Do not make the mistake of overlooking a particular firm or location simply because it is not included in the OCI process.

The First Step

You are at the beginning of your legal career, and it is unlikely that you or any one else can predict exactly where your professional journey will lead. Gone are the days when your first job upon graduation was one you would keep for many years, or even retire from. Think of the OCI selection process as the beginning of your journey and navigate thoughtfully. Your career path is unique and individually paved by you, not by the Vault Reports, The American Lawyer or a consensus of your classmates or relatives.

Through the job search process, you will learn to take charge of your career. Take advantage of the abundant career advising resources at HLS, from counselors to panelists, publications to websites. One of the most distinct advantages of attending Harvard Law School is the unsurpassed quality, potential, character and sheer number of your classmates. Over time, they will become your most effective network.

Soon, campus life will return to normal, the suits will disappear and OCI will be behind you. In the meantime, remember that at no other time in your career will you go about finding a job in quite the same way. So, relax, be yourself, learn a lot and enjoy!

The road less traveled

BY ALEXA SHABECOFF

At the Office of Public Interest Advising, we believe that practicing law is about more than making a living or representing clients competently and ethically. We believe that what makes law a profession, rather than simply an occupation, is a fundamental commitment to an equitable and fair legal system. A just system should be made accessible to both rich and poor, to those holding political power and to those profoundly marginalized; it should consider both those issues embraced and those rejected by the majority. We also believe that different jobs satisfy different people depending on their unique values, personalities and work styles. We have found that no matter what your ideals are, if you are not in the right job, you will not be happy.

These beliefs imbue our work at OPIA with a deep sense of mission. These ideals make it extremely gratifying to work with those of you who will be the public interest leaders of your generation, as well as those of you who will apply your public service ethos to making a difference by doing pro bono work in the private sector. We strive to help you articulate and pursue a professional sense of self that will enable you to achieve a confluence between your professional and personal lives. Most importantly, we hope that we can help you find the kind of work you will find both enjoyable and fulfilling.

We know that some of you have come here with a good idea of what you want to do with your law degree. But, after thousands of conversations with HLS students, we have realized that many of you may have ended up in law school because you lack a strong sense of what you want to do for a living. Having left college without specific training, and knowing that further education is highly valued, you find comfort in a place that will not only give you more time to prepare for the “real world” but will also give you skills that can be applied in numerous settings.

Yet, despite the many doors that a law degree from HLS is supposed to open, many start to see only one option: going into large law firms. There are some reasons that many of you start to narrow your vision of what you can do with a law degree:

* huge debt loads which make you wonder if you can afford to live on anything less than what the big firms pay;

* the somewhat more challenging nature of pursuing other paths, including but not limited to the public market;

* the pressure of watching your classmates gravitate to big firms; and,

* the added pressure of family or the expectations of others.

All of these factors can create a sense of conflict about the type of work you want to pursue with your law degree. Caught up in the “fall insanity” at HLS, some of you do not manage to find the time to reflect about whether you should go to a small firm, a business, a plaintiff’s firm, government work or the nonprofit sector. We urge you to think about your aspirations more carefully and find a job you love.

Clarify a Vision Behind Your Work

Take time to reflect thoughtfully on what you want to achieve professionally. One alum shared this advice: “Think first about what you like to do – not just what you’re good at, what you think you should do, or what’s the path of least resistance.” Most people who love their work have found jobs involving issues about which they feel passionate, as opposed to work at which they may excel but dislike. In discovering what it is that you really want to do, recognize that your interests do not always coincide with your talents. To find work that suits you uniquely, you need to confront questions regarding what you love to do and what really matters to you in your work. Below we share some of the issues you might want to think about while deciding what you want to do this summer and with your law degree when you graduate.

Decide: Whose Life is This Anyway?

As you begin to think about what direction you want your career to take, be sure to make your own values and passions your touchstones. Avoid being swayed by other people’s expectations of you. For example, if your family expects you to save the world through large law reform cases – as mine did way back when I was in law school – but you’d rather work with one client at a time, follow your own preferences. This can be especially hard for those who go to top tier law schools because often we have grown accustomed to judging our achievements in terms of traditional measures of success such as high grades, big salary and public praise. Until you are able to focus on what you want and what you truly consider important, your efforts at finding meaningful work will most likely be thwarted.

Evaluate Your Ambitions and Values

You alone can decide what will make you happy. Figure out what you find important and satisfying:

* What have you liked and disliked from your prior life experiences?

* What issues do you like to read about?

* What volunteer work do you gravitate towards?

* What academic subjects excite you?

Sort out what motivates you and stimulates you. Be careful to distinguish between what you truly care about and what you believe is marketable – they may not overlap. Allowing yourself to be swayed by the latter without considering the former may result in making an expedient, but unsatisfying, career decision.

Evaluate the Nature of the Work and Work Environment That Fits You

Happy lawyers tell us that in addition to working on issues that engage them, the nature of the work and the workplace setting may be critical to finding the right fit. Drawing upon your prior work, volunteer and academic experiences, think about some of the following questions:

* Do you love to research and write?

* Do you enjoy frequent contact with people? Must it be with clients or are colleagues enough?

* Are you happier juggling multiple short-term projects or spending large quantities of time digging into a few long-term assignments?

* Do you embrace responsibility and autonomy or do you prefer close oversight and a gradual increase in responsibility?

* Do you need to see the immediate results of your work, or are you satisfied with the potential for eventual large impact?

* Do you seek formal training, or will you be satisfied by on-the-job training combined with some supervision and/or mentoring?

* Do you want a formal organized atmosphere, or are you happier with a casual, non-hierarchical setting?

* How important is it for the office you work in to have a great deal of resources at its disposal?

* Do you have strong needs for political/ideological compatibility?

* Do you need to have some political activism in your job?

Learn About What Lawyers Do

Law school provides you with an unparalleled opportunity to explore different options within (and even outside) the legal profession. If you are interested in pursuing any type of public interest or government work, you can start by picking up a copy of our Public Interest Job Search Guide and brainstorming with our attorney advisers and our visiting Wasserstein Fellows. Our attorney advisers are career counselors with backgrounds in a variety of public service legal careers. Our Visiting Wasserstein Fellows can share insights about the public interest positions they have held. To get a flavor of practice settings without even leaving your dorm room or apartment, you can read narratives we have collected from alumni/ae in our Public Interest Job Search Guide, in both editions of Alumni/ae in Action and in Outstanding Lawyers in Action, a compilation of narratives written by our Wasserstein Fellows.

You can read about specific fields by picking up one of our specialty guides or printing it from our website: www.law.harvard.edu/Students/opia. You can attend panels like the World of Law series and hear from public interest lawyers about what their work entails, what they like and dislike about their jobs, and how you c
an pursue similar work if you are interested. You can talk to the hundreds of alumni/ae doing public service work who have agreed to serve as mentors to students and who will often be delighted to talk to you about their work. You can also talk to the faculty in our Faculty Public Interest Directory who have agreed to advise students in their area of expertise.

Create a Game Plan

Try out the kind of work that seems appealing to you. You will never again have such a great opportunity to experiment, so seize it! Naturally, the summers offer the biggest chunk of time for sampling different jobs. But do not underestimate the value of work done through a student group, a volunteer job off-campus, or, especially, a clinical placement, to help you discover what you enjoy in the practice of law. Working for a professor on issues that interest you can help you learn more about those issues. And if you already have a very good sense of what you want to do when you graduate, law school affords you the chance to confirm or reevaluate your expectations, to build a track record that will make you an attractive candidate for the jobs you choose to pursue, and to make contacts in your chosen field.

Figure Out What Money Means to Your Job Choice

Determine how much money you need to afford the quality of life that makes you happy. Different people need different kinds of amenities in order to be satisfied. Most public interest lawyers aren’t “poor.” Early in our careers, we manage to pay the rent, afford a suitable wardrobe, and have money left over for dinner and a movie. Later in life, most of us manage mortgages on nice homes and can afford new cars. We can provide a high quality of life for our children, giving them ballet and karate lessons, and taking them on the occasional exotic vacation. Almost every public interest lawyer will tell you that any financial trade-off they made was well worth it. Whether you will be one of the people who can be a public interest lawyer (or even a lawyer at a small private law firm that does not pay as much as the big firms) and live well depends on your own financial situation. Fortunately, as many of you know, HLS’s loan forgiveness program, the Low Income Protection Plan (LIPP), was dramatically improved and now is better able to provide those with high debt the opportunity to take a relatively lower-paying public service job.

If you have high educational debt, don’t just assume that you cannot afford to make choices about the jobs you pursue upon graduation. Come to the panel that OPIA co-sponsors with the Financial Aid Office on LIPP and HLS postgraduate public service fellowships. Go to the Financial Aid Office and find out how LIPP will work for you. Find out how much your monthly loan payments will be if you work in a particular field, and figure out whether you can live, according to your own needs, with what is leftover. If you don’t have debt, decide whether you will be happy with the lifestyle you will have on a public interest salary or whether you need more.

Consider How you Define Success and Happiness

Ultimately we all need to take a long hard look at how each of us defines success and happiness. Rather than thinking of power in terms of paycheck or employer name recognition, many of us will choose to conceive of it as the ability to effect social change or to help individual clients protect their rights and dignity. We pick our jobs because we know that we will look forward to going to work.

By shifting our focus away from the perceived expectations of others, we become free to pursue our own values, personalities and passions. For many of us, this proves a difficult thing to do. But try it: take a look at what it is that you truly want to do. By doing so, you can redefine success in terms of finding a career that will be fulfilling. Hopefully, you will join the many alums who call and write to us at OPIA, marveling at the joy they find in their work.

[Alexa Shabecoff is the Director of the Office of Public Interest Advising.]