HLS200.org: A First Step Towards Re-Orienting Our Culture

You can tell a lot about the culture of a community by asking three questions:

  1. As the community looks to the past, whom does the community admire?
  2. As the community  looks toward the future, what challenges are deemed important?
  3. As the community looks at the present, which activities are worthwhile to the community?

What can we learn about ourselves, then, by asking these questions about Harvard Law School? Continue reading “HLS200.org: A First Step Towards Re-Orienting Our Culture”

Nate Szyman and Pete Davis are members of the Class of 2018 and co-directors of The HLS 200, a campaign of the Third Century Project, an initiative aimed at imagining how Harvard Law can better live out its stated mission of “educating leaders who contribute to the advancement of justice and well-being of society.”

The Role of Students is to Amplify the HUDS Struggle

The first fifteen days of the HUDS strike have seen incredible and overwhelming student solidarity with the striking workers. Student organizations have published numerous statements in support of the HUDS struggle. They have held a series of mealtime conversations and an outdoor dine-in at Harvard Yard, during which workers and students shared a meal and discussed the strike. They have also raised money to provide food to the striking workers, and directly reinforced the workers’ picket lines with their bodies. At the time of publication, nearly 3,000 Harvard students have pledged their support for HUDS through the Student Labor Action Movement petition. Just last week, the Law School Student Council voted in favor of a resolution endorsing the HUDS strike and calling on the administration to meet the workers’ demands as soon as possible. This recent resolution follows in the wake of a similar resolution passed last week by the Undergraduate Council. At this point there is no significant, organized student opposition to the workers’ demands.

At the same time, the Administration is actively discouraging student support for the workers. Not only have students at Harvard Law School received an email from high-level administrators suggesting that support for the HUDS strike would be “divisive” and goes against the objective of building “community,” but the Administration has now stooped to asking graduate student employees who are already exempt from overtime pay to voluntarily cross the HUDS picket line and perform the jobs HUDS workers are fighting to keep. Continue reading “The Role of Students is to Amplify the HUDS Struggle”

From Attica prisoners to Harvard Law students: a message from behind the wall

The last great book I read made me cry and grind my teeth and pace my cell. It was written by a Harvard Law School graduate. It was Bryan Stevenson’s Just Mercy. With the best education in America, Mr. Stevenson chose to “get close to,” defend and ultimately save the lives of people on death row. People on these kind of missions—playing a bigger game in life—make murderers like me melt.

My name is John J. Lennon and I am a thirty-nine-year-old prisoner serving twenty-eight years to life at Attica Correctional Facility in western upstate New York. I was convicted of selling drugs and shooting a man to death on a Brooklyn street in 2001. I’m sorry for killing him, I’m sorry for it all.

That said, I’m not just a murderer. Today I’m also a journalist. Years ago, I fell into a couple of opportunities at Attica. In a privately-funded pilot college program, I learned how to think better. In a creative writing workshop, I learned how to write clearer. Since then, my words have appeared in publications that make them matter.

Recently, Pete Davis, a law student and online editor at the Harvard Law Record, asked me to write a piece, offering a sort of open mic to talk to you all at Harvard Law. Since my lane is journalism and not the law, I figured I would interview a few of my seasoned prisonmates and get their takes. Continue reading “From Attica prisoners to Harvard Law students: a message from behind the wall”

John J. Lennon is serving a sentence of twenty-eight years to life, at Attica Correctional Facility. His work has appeared in The Atlantic, The New York Times, The Marshall Project, and The Chronicle for Higher Education. His website is johnjlennon.wordpress.com.

Strike support video released in response to university-wide email

On October 11, Harvard’s Vice President of Human Resources emailed all university students with the administration’s perspective on the contract negotiations with Harvard dining hall workers– a negotiation which has led to a strike now entering its third week. In response, a group of undergraduates and law students supportive of the striking workers have released a video, responding to the administration’s claims and sharing excerpts from HUDS workers’ speeches at a strike rally earlier in this month. The video is below:

Pete Davis is a civic reformer from Falls Church, Virginia and a member of Harvard Law School Class of 2018. Email Pete at Pete@CivicIdeas.org.

An Exclusive Interview with Dean Minow

You may have read about the HLS administration’s refusal to allow the Record to publish its recent interview with Dean Minow. Our editors-in-chief, I regret to say, are staggeringly incompetent and weak-willed. Like all Harvard Law students, they are anatomical curiosities, who are at once both hidebound and spineless. You can depend upon them for nothing. And so, for the good of the paper, I considered it my duty to salvage the whole operation and interview the Dean myself.

How did I secure an on-the-record interview with the Dean, you ask, after she denied the same to my editorial overlords? Well, I’ve been around this school a long time, you see, and I know things. I know who has their fingers in the door. I know who has their foot in the pie. And oh yes, I know where the bodies are buried. They say they can’t tear down the Gropius Complex because it’s a historical landmark, but who really believes that? Oh, the terrible secrets that lurk in the bowels of that concrete monstrosity! How many nights have I lain awake on the sofa in the Record basement, listening to the faint finger-scrabbling of Harvard’s hapless enemies, entombed within the walls!

But I digress.

Continue reading “An Exclusive Interview with Dean Minow”

Fenno has been a student at Harvard Law School since at least 1961. He has no current plans to graduate.

Some Unsolicited Advice, Part III

I retired from the practice of law in 2013. I spent 43 years as a transactional attorney, mostly as a partner with Foley & Lardner LLP. Neither of my children decided to become lawyers, so I never thought to share much with them about the lessons I learned during my years of practice that helped me succeed as a partner in a large law firm. Since I believe there is some “wisdom” to be gained from my experiences, I decided to share some of them with you in this three part series. Parts I and II can be found here and here.

Try To Become Indispensable 

If you want to become a partner, try to become indispensable to the partners you are working for. Ask what you can do on a transaction to ease their burden. As you become more experienced, go to them and suggest a course of action that you believe will advance the transaction and allow the partner to do something else with his or her time. Don’t be too pushy. Just make it clear that you are interested in taking on more responsibility if the partner thinks you are ready to do so. When senior associates or senior counsel are considered for partnership, the ones that have made things easier for the partners they work for are likely to have the easiest time.

Continue reading “Some Unsolicited Advice, Part III”

An Apology to the Dean, and to Our Readers

On September 30, the editors-in-chief of The Record conducted a brief interview with Dean Minow to discuss topics of interest to the Harvard Law School community. We had hoped to make these Q&A’s a regular feature of The Record, with the intention of fostering frank, substantive dialogue between the HLS administration and the student body. Ahead of the interview, we provided the administration with a general overview of the kinds of topics we hoped to cover. HLS’s public relations director, Michelle Deakin, agreed to the interview on the condition that the Dean would be allowed to review the article ahead of publication, and approve or reject the wording of individual quotations.

Upon receiving our initial draft, however, the administration indicated that they would not allow us to publish the interview at all. To quote from the e-mail Ms. Deakin sent us:

When I spoke of the interview being “off the record” and that any quotes would need to be reviewed by Dean Minow in advance of publication, that was with the understanding that this was an informational interview and that you might develop a story idea or two from the conversation.   You have no permission to use any quotations.  Neither the Dean nor I were aware that you were hoping to present these answers as a q and a, and the Dean will not be granting permission for her quotes to be condensed and presented in this manner.

Continue reading “An Apology to the Dean, and to Our Readers”

Statement of Support for Striking HUDS Workers

The editorial board of the Harvard Law Record has voted (3 in favor, 1 opposed, 1 abstention) to stand in support of Harvard’s dining service workers and their decision to strike. Local 26, the labor union representing the workers, and Harvard Corporation have been negotiating since May over details of the workers’ contracts, yet the administration remains unpersuaded by workers’ grievances, and provisions regarding health benefits and wages remain unchanged. As a result, on September 29, workers voted to authorize a strike. When Harvard fulfilled none of their demands, workers began to strike this past Wednesday.

While HUDS workers’ hourly earnings are competitive, their yearly salary is far from it. Typically Harvard does not provide the workers with work during the summer and winter holidays. Local 26 claims workers’ salaries are around $31,000, while the University’s representatives state figures closer to $35,000. According to the MIT Living Wage Calculator, even $34,000 is not enough to sustain a household consisting of more than one individual in the greater Boston area. Local 26 is asking that Harvard provide year-round work and guarantee a minimum salary of $35,000. The university has responded by offering a stipend of $150-$250 a week, depending on tenure of employment, for those available to work during the summer months.

The union is also requesting fairer healthcare coverage, as currently Harvard’s proposed health care plan for workers substantially increases co-pays. Such increases inevitably translate to sacrifices that these workers should not have to make: whether that means not taking their kids to the doctor’s office, or not being able to afford car insurance.

The fact that Harvard Corporation recently raised its capital campaign by more than $7 billion should evoke outcry when considering the workers’ current financial situation. As a newspaper comprised of students, the Harvard Law Record is indebted to HUDS employees. They support us every day. We are grateful for their services and believe that it is their deserved right to strike for a livable wage and a reasonable standard of living.

Editor’s note: The vote was among the editors-in-chief, opinion, and web editors. The result of the vote was three in favor, one opposed, and one abstention.

Vote Early, Vote Often

Australia is not immune from the global trend of political polarization and disaffection. Nevertheless, election days in the country are a rare display of national unity.

On a Saturday approximately once every three years, roughly 90% of voters make their way (down the left side of the road) to their local polling booth. At nearly a third of booths, they are met by the great Australian tradition of the Election Day Sausage Sizzle. Campaign volunteers and staffers will be making last minute pitches for people’s votes and reminding them of party policies, rather than door knocking or cold calling to remind people to turn out. There are no get out the vote campaigns. The vote is out and about and eating barbecue: in Australia voting is compulsory.

Continue reading “Vote Early, Vote Often”

Evelyn Douek is a Record contributor. She is an LL.M. of the Class of 2017.

Support the Strike

The strike is on! After more than three months of frustrating negotiations with the university, Harvard University Dining Services workers announced that they will be going on strike starting Wednesday, October 5, 2016.

Following a rally in Harvard Yard last Friday afternoon, HUDS workers and students marched into Belinda Hall, where three workers spoke to an audience of supporters about their experiences as Harvard employees. Better than any statistic, these workers’ stories highlight Harvard’s inability or unwillingness to live up to its progressive values. Harvard would rather cut corners on labor costs than ensure stable livelihoods for its lowest-paid workers, whose services are essential for students’ well-being. As Willie Moore, the Hark’s “buffalo chicken wrap guy” succinctly put it, “Harvard is just as it is in the streets.” While Harvard may appear classy to the rest of the world, those on the inside know the crass truth.

Continue reading “Support the Strike”

Thoughts and Musings for 1Ls

Ralph Nader has asked me to share some thoughts about law study, derived from fifty-one years of law teaching. For most of those years I have opened my torts class with the case of Nader v. General Motors, which I believe to be a very good example of the kind of societally useful work lawyers can do. Aware that Ralph has said that “the Socratic method is a game only one can play,” I will remark that you will be fortunate if you have some teachers who will give you room to play the game.

My observations[1] begin with a lesson about the importance of questions. When I was a new law teacher, it was my good luck to have down the hall one of the all-time greats of the profession, Leon Green. Continue reading “Thoughts and Musings for 1Ls”

Marshall S. Shapo (S.J.D. Harvard Law School 1974) is the Frederic P. Vose Professor at Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law.

The Ride Wit Me Stream-a-Thon: One Student’s Journey to Pay Off Nelly’s Debts

Considering the strong commitment to public service at HLS, I’m certain that most of you are already doing your part to help Nelly pay the reported $2.6 million[1] he owes to the IRS and the state of Missouri. After all, we are indebted to him.

His music gave us all something cool to play when our friends came over to play on our Dreamcast.

His music allowed us to jokingly ask others to take off their clothes in a way that was slightly less creepy than if his song never existed.

His music redeemed an entire city which unfortunately is home to the most obnoxious baseball team in history.

Because of the paltry sums artists receive from streaming services, we will need to stream his songs as many as 426,956,666 times on Spotify in order to pay off his debts.[2] Some of you — most of you — all of you — are much busier than I am and do productive and impressive things with your time. I do none of that, so I decided to help Nelly the best way I can — playing “Ride Wit Me” repeatedly with every free minute I have. It’s playing right now as I type this actually. If you’re one of the many who do not have millions of hours to spare, don’t worry. I’ve done my best to recount my experience so far.

1st Listen: This. Is. A. Great. Song. I feel like my mom is driving me and my friends to laser tag. I feel like I’m awkwardly walking around the dance floor in 7th grade, trying to avoid eye contact with every girl in the gym. It feels like just yesterday. It feels like today. I feel immortal.

Continue reading “The Ride Wit Me Stream-a-Thon: One Student’s Journey to Pay Off Nelly’s Debts”

Today May Mark the Largest Prison Strike in U.S. History


Harvard National Lawyers Guild and the Harvard Prison Legal Assistance Project stand in solidarity with prisoners

SEPTEMBER 9, 2016— Today, thousands of inmates in as many as twenty-four states plan to engage in a coordinated strike and protest in an attempt to bring national attention to the inhumane conditions in which many prisoners live and work. The date marks the 45th anniversary of the Attica prison uprising, when one thousand inmates at the New York correctional facility rose up to demand certain rights and better living conditions. They were met with brutal retaliation that left twenty-nine inmates and ten hostages dead.[1] Continue reading “Today May Mark the Largest Prison Strike in U.S. History”

Brexit, Pursued By Bear

Ah, how quickly the years fly by. It feels like only yesterday that my college roommates and I were dancing around our living room to this episode of Auto-Tune the News, in which Nigel Farage hurls a barrage of insults at Herman Van Rompuy, then-President of the European Council. For anybody who’s new to the UK Independence Party, “Euroscepticism,” and the debate surrounding Britain’s withdrawal from the EU, this clip is a good introduction to the kind of cartoonish chest-puffery that goes in on this corner of European politics.

It’s a damn catchy song, too, I must say. Continue reading “Brexit, Pursued By Bear”

Brianna Rennix is the editor-in-chief of The Record and a member of the Harvard Law School Class of 2018.

When Life Begins: A Reply to Dr. Matthew Borths

This article is a response to Josh Craddock’s opinion piece The Least Safe Space,” which ran on March 7, 2016, and Dr. Matthew Borths’s letter to the editor, A Response to ‘The Least Safe Space’,” which ran on March 8.

Dr. Borths’ response to Josh Craddock’s article appears to make two main points:

  1. Craddock’s credibility is questionable; and
  2. Craddock does not adequately support the proposition that human life begins at—that is, a human organism begins to exist at the moment of—conception. [1]

But the arguments Dr. Borths offers in support of these points are not only weak; they are also hypocritical.

Continue reading “When Life Begins: A Reply to Dr. Matthew Borths”