Conquering Cold Calls

“Ms. Everett.”

My heart thumped; my stomach jumped; and I felt my face heating up. I knew it. Just like 1L. I knew I’d get called on the first day again. Here we go. I looked up at her, signaling I was ready for the inescapable interrogation.

“Ms. Everett. How is the Freedom of Religion Clause implicated in this case?”

“You mean like what does it say?”

She stepped forward. My voice had compromised my position in the auditorium, and she focused her gaze. “Yes. What is the Freedom of Religion Clause? What does it say?”

“Well, um, it says. It says that Congress can’t establish…” Wait. Is it that Congress can’t make a law that establishes a certain religion? Or that it can’t prohibit someone from practicing …  “Um. The government can’t make one religion…” Crap. Now my voice is getting all shaky. Just read, Angel. Continue reading “Conquering Cold Calls”

An Open Letter to the Harvard Law Review: Break Open HLS’ Inner Ring

Dear Editors of the Harvard Law Review,

In 1944 at the University of London, C.S. Lewis gave a speech entitled “The Inner Ring,” in which he warned the audience about a perennial human failing that would not be unfamiliar to Harvard Law School students a half a century later. In the speech, he described how inside any community — in “whatever hospital, inn of court, diocese, school, business or college you arrive” — you will find Inner Rings: exclusive internal communities on which you find yourself on the outside.  If you break into any of the Inner Rings, Lewis explains, you will find “that within the ring there [is] a Ring yet more inner.”  To Lewis, the desire to enter the next Inner Ring — and the terror of being left outside — is one of the dominant forces in our lives. Continue reading “An Open Letter to the Harvard Law Review: Break Open HLS’ Inner Ring”

When a perceived injustice breeds injustice

Fighting against injustice means saying something that might be unpopular. Fighting against injustice means saying something that could—actually will—offend some. So today, I stand up to say that the anti-Semitism claim against Husam El-Qoulaq, although an understandable initial interpretation of a perceived injustice, should henceforth retire. Our community has irresponsibly relied on an isolated use of the word “smelly”—rather than on context, conversations, and attempts to discern the intent behind El-Qoulaq’s actions—to substantiate this claim. This faulty dependence is a threat both to our sense of community, and to the ethical standards to which we should hold ourselves as future lawyers and future leaders. Continue reading “When a perceived injustice breeds injustice”

Where Are Ringling Elephants Really Headed?

On May 1, after more than a century of featuring elephants in its shows, the Ringling Bros. circus will wrap up its very last shows with these majestic animals. We’re told that the elephants are being “retired,” but where are they actually going?

While SeaWorld recently pledged to stop breeding orcas, Ringling has made clear that, though it will no longer use elephants in traveling circus acts, it has every intention of continuing to use them as breeding stock at its Florida compound— Continue reading “Where Are Ringling Elephants Really Headed?”

Letter to the Editor: Do not rush to judge Husam El-Qoulaq

To the editor:

I am a Jewish 3L classmate of Husam El-Qoulaq who would also like to remind readers not to rush to judge Husam.

I will start by distinguishing myself from other recent signatories. I believe that the State of Israel is the most moral government in the world, a government that has shown its unwavering commitment to human rights even in the face of endless provocation from Palestinian terrorism. I also believe the disproportionate criticism and demonization of Israel is a sign that anti-Semitism is still very alive and growing in 2016.

Nevertheless, as someone who has known Husam for quite some time and as someone who has had the opportunity to discuss Israeli-Palestinian issues with him on several occasions, I am very confident in saying that Husam is not the anti-Semite the online world is trying to make him out to be. Continue reading “Letter to the Editor: Do not rush to judge Husam El-Qoulaq”

Letter to the Editor: No double standards for free speech

To the editor:

There is no free lunch in the marketplace of ideas. Whenever we share our thoughts, downside risks are created. Some charge headlong into the breach of public scrutiny, while others prefer the relative safety of anonymity.

Recently, there was an alleged anti-Semitic insult hurled at an Israeli politician by an HLS student. The administration attempted to help the student avoid further embarrassment for his careless remark by censoring footage of the event; the Harvard Law Record assisted in this regard by deleting comments on the original letter that named him.

Continue reading “Letter to the Editor: No double standards for free speech”

Civil Jury Trials Are Fast Becoming Extinct

As any trial judge or trial lawyer knows, the number of trials has been decreasing dramatically since 1986.  This is occurring in both state and federal courts, in all venues and in most kinds of cases.  It has occurred in both criminal and civil cases, but for different reasons; and in both jury and nonjury civil cases for similar but not identical reasons.

The general public is unaware of this trend because of the increasing fascination with trials on television and in the movies.

While no one denies that civil jury trials could soon become extinct, there is little agreement on the reasons for this.  Some have suggested that there are fewer civil trials because the rules of civil procedure encourage the use of pretrial discovery rather than the trial itself, to reveal what really happened, that after discovery is complete, an expensive trial is superfluous.  However, it was in the late ‘80s that civil trials began to decline, and the liberal discovery rules were operative long before then.  Nor did anything happen around that time to make trials more expensive.

In federal courts the decline coincides with the Supreme Court’s 1986 decisions instructing trial courts to grant summary judgments unless the plaintiff proves the probability of his allegations.  It is clear that those decisions and other judicially created obstacles to trials were the products of the “lawsuit abuse” movement that gave us so-called “tort reform, securities law reform, antitrust reform, class action reform and patent reform.”   Continue reading “Civil Jury Trials Are Fast Becoming Extinct”

An Open Response from a Law Student for Life

Sarah Gersten’s Open Letter raises several important points relevant to the conversation on abortion. A genuine pro-life perspective always includes a deep and abiding concern for every mother’s welfare as well as every child’s. Ryan Bomberger’s speech this past Tuesday sought to address the problem of disparate abortion rates within the black community, rather than the problem of sexual violence, but the Law Students for Life would agree that the latter merits serious discussion. We are glad to see the increase in discussion around abortion and related topics within the Law School over the course of this semester, and hope that these conversations continue into the coming academic year.

Continue reading “An Open Response from a Law Student for Life”

A Letter in Support of Husam El-Qoulaq

To the editor:

We, the undersigned Jewish students and recent alumni, write in support of our friend and peer Husam El-Qoulaq, and to condemn the efforts we’ve seen to defame his character.

At a recent panel on Palestinian-Israeli negotiations (which notably featured no speaker representing the Palestinian cause), Husam spoke out in protest, as he often does.

To add some context that has gone largely unreported, the target of Husam’s protest that day was Tzipi Livni, a former Israeli Foreign Minister. Livni played a key role in Operation Cast Lead, a 23-day military operation that was condemned by the U.N. and other credible organizations for the brutality it visited upon Palestinian civilians. In 2009, a British judge even issued a warrant to arrest Livni on allegations of war crimes for her involvement in that operation.

Over the years, we’ve seen Husam experiment with many forms of engagement on this issue, from handing out informational fliers to asking pointed substantive questions at events. Earlier this semester he tried a different tactic, calling a male Palestinian speaker a “smelly liar.” He did the same with Livni, asking her during a Q&A how it could be that she was “so smelly.”

We understand those who criticize Husam’s words as disrespectful, reckless, or inappropriate, and we know that he would probably agree with all of those critiques. But based on our own personal experiences with Husam, we reject the charge that our friend is an anti-Semite. Knowing Husam, we could all see that his aim was more mischief than malice. He said more about this in an apology he posted in The Record:
Continue reading “A Letter in Support of Husam El-Qoulaq”

Are U.S. election laws becoming better for voters who support alternatives to the two big parties?

The United States has many laws and habits that make it difficult for voters to organize new parties, or to support independent candidates.  These include severe ballot access laws, discriminatory campaign finance laws, and candidate debates to which only the Republican and Democratic nominees are invited.  An additional problem that only relates to presidential elections is found in Article II of the U.S. Constitution, which says that the Electoral College chooses the President.  This means that someone who places second in the popular vote can still take the office.  Worse, if no one gets a majority of the Electoral College vote, the U.S. House chooses the President, with each state’s delegation having one vote.  The Constitutional provisions relating to presidential election are themselves a major barrier to independent presidential campaign activity.

Happily, there has been progress during the last 30 years to ease one of these problems, the ballot access laws.  Ever so slowly, the number of signatures for a newly-qualifying party, or an independent candidate, to get on the ballot has been decreasing as a percentage of the electorate. Continue reading “Are U.S. election laws becoming better for voters who support alternatives to the two big parties?”

Ralph Nader to Dean Minow: Inform Students About Firm Violations

Dear Dean Minow,

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

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

Student Government: A Year in Review

Dear HLS Community,

It is has been an honor to serve you this year.

Since taking office, we envisioned a Student Government that would powerfully reform the way Harvard Law School is run and we saw tremendous potential for Student Government to act as a transformative platform for all members of the student body. With the dedicated efforts of students across HLS, we worked to create positive impact that we hope will go well beyond our time here.

This year alone, Student Government created 7 new committees and held over 25 events and programs. As a result, membership has nearly tripled and more students participated in Student Government this year than the past two academic years combined.

We would be kidding ourselves if we pretended like there weren’t growing pains involved and we thank our elected representatives, directors, and committee members for bearing with us as we developed as an organization. We were inspired to see so many students dedicate their time and effort towards issues they are passionate about. Whether it was through Student Government or through other means, we witnessed the power of individuals rallying around shared visions to make change.

We created this report to share our work from this year and we have deeply appreciated the opportunity to address ongoing issues at Harvard Law School. As we move on to our next adventures, we acknowledge that there is more work to be done. However, we are more hopeful than ever that we have helped build a strong foundation for future progress.

Thank you and signing off,

Kyle & Mavara

HBS Jewish Students Association Writes Letter in Support of JLSA

We should therefore claim, in the name of tolerance, the right not to tolerate the intolerant.

                                                                                                            -Karl Popper

Last week, the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School hosted Israeli politician Tzipi Livni for a panel on Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. During the Q+A session, a student at Harvard Law School asked Ms. Livni the following: “How is it that you are so smelly? . . . A question about the odor of Ms. Tzipi Livni, she’s very smelly, and I was just wondering.”

Calling Jews “smelly” or “dirty” has a long history. The Nazis promoted the idea to label the Jews an inferior people. In France, the term sale juif (dirty jew) has been the go-to anti-Semitic slur for centuries and in the US, Jewish immigrant neighborhoods were often described by the press as smelly and dirty[1].

Continue reading “HBS Jewish Students Association Writes Letter in Support of JLSA”

Students at Penn Law Issue Statement of Solidarity with JLSA

Dear Students of Harvard Law School,

We were made aware of the disturbing incident that took place at the event you recently hosted featuring Tzipi Livni. The comments that were made during the discussion remind us of the continued presence of intolerance that still pervades much our society. As Jewish people we are unfortunately too aware of this reality, as we have been forced to confront it time and again throughout our history. As Jews, future lawyers, and citizens it is our duty to lead in a manner that promotes broad academic diversity and freedom. While it is essential that, as students, we are exposed to a broad range of opinions and even criticism, it is never acceptable when that dialogue turns into ad hominem attacks.  It is for this reason that we write to you to offer our voice as one of support that condemns any attempts to silence the academic diversity and freedom that is so vital to our communities.

Continue reading “Students at Penn Law Issue Statement of Solidarity with JLSA”