Harvard Law School Alumni, Stop Donating

Three months ago, as the summer before my last year of law school was winding down, I received a call from the administration asking me to speak on behalf of the student body at a gala commemorating the launch of the Campaign for the Third Century. They encouraged me to accept the engagement, explaining that I would have a powerful platform to tell a compelling story. I agreed. Just a few weeks ago, after months of preparation, I delivered my testimonial in front of 600 Harvard Law School alumni.

Still nervous about how I would be received, I stood on that platform and recounted some of my darkest memories. How my parents immigrated to the United States. How I was lost in special education classrooms for years before the advent of ESL. How I became the target of sexual violence at the age of 11. How, a year later, I found myself in alcohol counseling, and, by 13 years old, I was expelled from school. I spoke about my boyfriend who was murdered over just a few hundred dollars when I was 15. I explained how my parents could not afford to send me on the senior class trip to Disney World, but instead, congratulated me on my graduation by melting down my mother’s jewelry to make me a class ring.

What Every Harvard Law Student Should Know About Juries

Juries are in crisis.  The jury trial exists today unloved, neglected, and largely avoided in legal practice.  Procedural barriers and civic apathy have combined to gut one of the central tenets of America’s constitutional structure.

The civil jury trial is dying.  In federal courts, less than 1% of civil cases are resolved before a jury.  In state courts, the percentage of jury trials is only slightly higher.  Lawyers can leave law school, make partner, and become a judge without ever trying a case before a jury.  Arbitration, mediation, and settlement dominate litigation practice.  Take a look at almost any long form contract (from your smartphone to your rental car agreement) and you (and everyone you know) likely will have signed away the right to a jury trial.  Fine print waivers have shifted a system of public justice to a process of private settlements.  And, even if you retain the right to sue, you still face daunting odds overcoming legal roadblocks (narrowed pleading and class action rules) and financial realities (lawyers cost more money than most law students can afford).  Going to trial is simply not an option for most individuals.  Continue reading “What Every Harvard Law Student Should Know About Juries”

Statement from Royall Must Fall

Early this morning, the faculty, staff, and students of Harvard Law School woke up to the defacement of the portraits of all current and former black professors on the walls of Wasserstein Hall.

As far as we know, the defacement of these portraits is still being investigated by the Harvard University Police.

Earlier last night, student activists created an educational art exhibit where they placed tape on the crests of Harvard Law School in Wasserstein Hall and posted facts about Isaac Royall, Jr. Black gaffer tape was used so that it would not leave any residue. Some of this tape was later taken off the activist art exhibit and used to cross out the faces of black professors.

Continue reading “Statement from Royall Must Fall”

Letter: Would the Governor Have Let My Family Die? 

Dear Editor,

I owe my existence to England letting in Holocaust refugees. I feel so sad that our state wants to keep refugees out now.

I had thought that everyone learned a lesson from the Holocaust. The U.S. turned away Jewish refugees, leaving many of my people to die in concentration camps. How can states wish to do that again?

Alene Anello

Alene Anello is a third-year student at Harvard Law School.

The New Adventures of Fenno

About the author: Fenno is a long-time contributor to the Record, recently returned from hiatus. A perpetual Harvard Law student, Fenno never ages, graduates, or experiences liver failure, but continues to sporadically attend classes whenever a busy recreational schedule permits.

I woke propped like a plank across two leather footrests in Caspersen Student Center. I spent a good five minutes working out which of my limbs was which, and which muscles controlled which limbs. Then I executed a controlled roll onto the adjacent couch. The sweaty skin on my face came unstuck from the leather with a sound like saran wrap being removed from squashed banana. I blinked into the hideous brightness. I attempted to utter the words “Good morning, cruel world” in a quiet voice of world-weary cynicism, but all that came out was “Nrrrrrrrrrrrrk.”
Continue reading “The New Adventures of Fenno”

An Open Letter to Dean Minow from Students of Harvard Law School: Royall Must Fall

Dear Dean Minow,

Over the past few weeks, students and student organizations have come together to speak out against the continued use of the Royall family seal as the crest of Harvard Law School.

As you know, Isaac Royall, Jr. and his family were slavers. Further, they were responsible for the brutal torture and murder of 88 enslaved persons in Antigua in the mid-1730s. Seventy-seven enslaved people were burned alive, six were hanged, and five were broken on the wheel—a torture device whereby people’s bones were crushed until they bled to death. The bodies were then put on display to remind the enslaved people of Antigua of the supremacy of the Royall family and other slavers.

Continue reading “An Open Letter to Dean Minow from Students of Harvard Law School: Royall Must Fall”

Women’s Law Association Statement on Harvard’s Title IX Procedures

In the fall of 2014, members of the Harvard Women’s Law Association (WLA) drafted this statement, which the 2014-15 WLA Board approved for publication. As the conversation around Title IX on campus continues, we wanted to share this piece of WLA history and reaffirm our commitment to creating a safe and equal learning environment for women both at Harvard and across the nation.

At this critical moment, Harvard is uniquely positioned to contribute to and lead the national debate over how to address the problem of sexual assault on campus. As representatives of the largest student group on the law school campus and as members of the Harvard community, we write to voice our recommendations for creating a safe and equal learning environment, both at Harvard and on campuses across the country.

Our membership is diverse. We are future public defenders, prosecutors, victim advocates, and university faculty. We represent students who are passionate about indigent defense and students who are passionate about prosecuting sex crimes. Yet we agree that there are some basic guidelines and principles that all universities—starting with Harvard—should follow as they take the necessary steps to address this critical national issue.

Continue reading “Women’s Law Association Statement on Harvard’s Title IX Procedures”

Letter to the Editor: SeaWorld Should Move Orcas to Sea

Re: “Delving Deeper into the SeaWorld Hype


Thank you for running Chris Green’s thoughtful piece calling out SeaWorld’s PR spin. SeaWorld’s business model – like so many of the orcas it has exploited – is dead.

Orcas are enormous in both size and brain power. In the oceans where they belong, orcas swim vast distances every day and lead rich, complex lives. Keeping them in worlds that can be measured in gallons is ethically indefensible. They know they aren’t supposed to be in SeaWorld’s barren tanks, performing silly tricks for dead fish. It’s little wonder so many die far short of their natural lifespans.

SeaWorld can develop protected coastal pens where the orcas can be transitioned. There, the animals could have greater freedom of movement; the ability to see, sense, and communicate with their wild cousins; to feel the tides and waves; and have opportunities to engage in the behaviors that they’ve long been denied.  Viewing platforms would allow the public to see and appreciate these animals for who they are, not interchangeable “Shamu’s.”

By moving forward into a future that doesn’t include keeping ocean dwellers in swimming pools, SeaWorld wouldn’t have to paint concrete blue to make its business more palatable to the public.

Yours truly,

Jennifer O’Connor

Ms. O’Connor is a senior writer for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

Hitting the Point: How Moderate Regulation Can Appease Both Sides of the Fracking Debate

Hydraulic fracturing, better known as “fracking” is an understandably divisive issue. On one side of the debate, environmental advocates express concern over groundwater contamination, frack hits, and earthquakes. On the other side of the debate, the energy sector and free market proponents contend that fracking increases domestic oil production, drives down gas prices, and generates energy with significantly lower CO2 emissions.

In the most recent undercard debate, Republican presidential candidate and former New York Governor George Pataki went as far as to champion fracking as a significant factor in the fight against climate change, pointing out that the United States is the only nation to have lowered carbon-dioxide emissions since 1995. Continue reading “Hitting the Point: How Moderate Regulation Can Appease Both Sides of the Fracking Debate”

When Poor Politics Trumps Good Policy: The Story of Keystone XL

The administration’s rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline stands as a triumph of politics over sound policy—and a prime example of why the country needs less government intervention in the energy sector.

Any pipeline that would cross the U.S.–Canadian border requires a review by the Department of State (DOS) and a presidential permit. The law states that the decision regarding the permit application is to reflect the national interest.  Instead, the administration chose to cater to a special interest: its environmental activist base. In so doing, it consciously ignored robust scientific evidence that the pipeline posed minimal environmental risk. Continue reading “When Poor Politics Trumps Good Policy: The Story of Keystone XL”