Poll Results: Do Harvard Law 3Ls Want Jeff Flake to Speak?

Editor’s note: We used a Google Form to conduct this poll, and as such, it was impossible to prevent 1Ls and 2Ls from voting without identifying all voters. The voters in this data set should not be treated as a sample size representative of the Class of 2018. It is possible that this poll was circulated in some social circles and not others, and we did not share it anywhere except on our website and on our Facebook page.

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Voting #UnionYes Because #TimesUp

In February, we were dismayed but unsurprised to learn that Harvard allowed a professor in its government department to sexually harass over a dozen of his female graduate students and colleagues, for over thirty years. The university’s own investigation found that Dominguez had committed “serious misconduct” as early as 1983 — but they kept him on staff, leaving students at risk, until intense media pressure forced him to resign.

The Dominguez reports prove that students can’t just rely on Harvard to follow Title IX and fight sexual harassment on campus (in case the three separate federal Title IX investigations faced by the University aren’t proof enough). Instead, graduate workers need the power of a union that can push Harvard to adopt best practices and end pervasive gender discrimination in academia.

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Jeff Flake’s shameful record on civil legal aid for the poor

Civil legal aid is in crisis. Stanford Law School professor Deborah L. Rhode estimates that about four-fifths of the civil legal needs of the poor, and about half of the civil legal needs of the middle class, remain unmet. The Legal Services Corporation’s estimate is even more dire: by their count this year, “86 percent of the civil legal problems faced by low-income Americans in a given year receive inadequate or no legal help.” Less than $1 out of every $100 spent on lawyers is spent helping advance the personal legal interests of poor Americans. Since only 1 percent of American lawyers are in legal aid practice, the nation with one of the highest concentration of lawyers provides less than one legal aid lawyer for every 10,000 low-income Americans living in poverty.

When the World Justice Project’s Rule of Law Index ranked high-income nations by terms of the accessibility of their civil justice systems, the United States ranked 20th of 23. On their ranking of nations in terms of the ability of people to obtain legal counsel, the United States ranked 50th of 66. As Jim Sandman, president of the Legal Services Corporation, the federal program established to distribute civil legal aid grants, told National Public Radio for their 2012 report “Legal Help for the Poor In ‘State of Crisis’”: “We have a great legal system in the United States, but it’s built on the premise that you have a lawyer… and if you don’t have a lawyer, the system often doesn’t work for you.” Continue reading “Jeff Flake’s shameful record on civil legal aid for the poor”

The Ref Has Been Worked: Harvard Law’s Flake-Out

There is an idea in sports called “working the ref.” You accuse the ref of being biased toward your opponent, and the ref starts being biased toward you to make up for it. It’s a clever tactic for bending an easily-rattled referee to your will.

In institutional politics, the right-wing establishment has honed working the ref into an art form. It’s a two-part dance. First, they take institutions that see themselves as “neutral referees” and accuse them of having a “left-wing bias.”  Then, they repeat themselves over and over and over again — no matter what the truth of the matter is — until the institution is so rattled by being called biased that it, in an attempt to affirm its neutrality, starts doing whatever the right-wing wants.

Dozens of institutions that see themselves as referees have been worked. PBS has long been accused of being left-wing, so it finally gave in this year and launched its own conservative talk show. The New York Times, The Washington Post and The Atlantic editorial boards got accused of being left-wing so much that they just went on a hiring spree for conservative columnists. The Obama administration so internalized the accusation of being left-wing that  it started implementing conservative agenda items, like cutting entitlements and deporting thousands of American families, to prove its neutral bona fides. Continue reading “The Ref Has Been Worked: Harvard Law’s Flake-Out

For HLS Student Workers, #UNIONYES is the Right Choice

On April 18th and 19th, student workers from across Harvard will head to the polls and decide whether we should have a voice in our community, by voting for the Harvard Graduate Students Union-United Auto Workers.

Harvard has fought the graduate student union every step of the way, from illegally excluding over 500 graduate student workers from voting in our first union election, to using our tuition money to hire expensive union-busting law firms, to filling our mailboxes with deceptive anti-union emails and mailers.

We’re concerned about the lengths to which Harvard has gone to actively mislead its students about the potential impact of unionization. As HLS students and graduate workers ourselves, we’re here to correct the record and demonstrate why #UnionYes is the right choice for HLS.

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Review: Reputation by Taylor Swift

Taylor Swift released Reputation in November of 2017. Having listened to the album in its entirety over 250 times since then, I feel qualified to share my detailed thoughts with the general public. I also recently found out we’ve got the same Enneagram type, which is probably irrelevant but still kind of cool.

“But Megan, Taylor is problematic/a snake/playing the victim/failing to use her platform as a role model for young women to promote social and political issues that matter to herself and her fans!” I know. She knows. Nearly all the promotional materials for this album – not to mention the “Look What You Made Me Do” music video – explicitly address the fact that she has heard all of these criticisms. And she doesn’t really care. Or maybe she does, but wants you to think she doesn’t? Unclear.

The bulk of this review – like the best parts of Reputation – isn’t about the (valid) criticisms of Swift as a person. Instead, it is an in-depth, track-by-track analysis of the album, focusing on the music and, to the extent possible, looking past the baggage that inherently comes with Taylor Swift.

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Dispatch from Attica Correctional Facility — “…And justice for all”?: Indigent Defendants and Ineffective Assistance of Counsel

In my time as an inmate at Attica Correctional Facility working in the law library, I’ve learned some startling facts about what indigent defendants can face. Indigent defendants—more than 80 percent of total defendants—often receive substandard counsel. A defendant may be innocent but still be convicted or urged to plead out by an attorney for a variety of reasons: The attorney is unwilling to argue a case before a jury due of a lack of confidence, a lack of skill or experience, or a lack of resources to bring a solid case. (I’ve also been repeatedly astonished by the errors I’ve encountered in legal briefs filed by degreed attorneys, but that’s another story.) Worse, when defendants are counseled to plead in order to avoid a jury trial, their attorneys may neglect to mention two important rights as guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution: the Sixth Amendment’s right to counsel and the Fourteenth’s right to due process.

Who’s to blame for this egregious failure to protect the rights of our nation’s underserved? We could blame state and local legislatures—and the federal government—for choosing to fund prison expansion rather than legal aid societies. We could blame those judges who merely rubber stamp cases in which prosecutors have done the hard work of interpretation and adjudication. We could also point a finger at the Supreme Court which has decided many cases on the subject of ineffective assistance of counsel—Strickland v. Washington, Padilla v. Kentucky, just to name two—decisions that have reduced a defendant’s claim to being unwinnable and meaningless. What’s happened here is a transformation of the American criminal justice system, from one where adversaries meet on neutral ground to seek justice to a de facto administrative regime committed to processing as many people as possible. Continue reading “Dispatch from Attica Correctional Facility — “…And justice for all”?: Indigent Defendants and Ineffective Assistance of Counsel”

Making Public Service a Choice, Not a Privilege

One year ago, I sat alongside hundreds of my future Harvard Law School classmates at Admitted Students Weekend. I was excited to come to law school and to learn how to further social justice in the law; but the economic reality of law school did not seem compatible with that goal— at least for someone like me. Without generations of wealth as a safety net, I would have to take out nearly $150,000 in “base loan[s]” to even have access to grant aid. Such an obligation made it seem unrealistic, to say the least, for me to use my legal education to fight for access to justice or against racial discrimination.

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Meet the Candidates for Student Government, 2018-2019

We conducted interviews with candidates who will be up for positions in Student Government. Voting will take place on April 4 and 5. For every vote counted in the election, Leilani Doktor and Jonathan Herzog have committed one minute of their time to volunteering at polling locations during the 2018 midterm elections.

Here is where to find these interviews:

Leilani Doktor and Jonathan Herzog: Candidates for Co-Presidents
Princess Daisy Akita: Candidate for Director of Student Organizations
Hannah Dawson, Daniel Egel-Weiss, and Radhe Patel: Candidates for 2L Representative
Pamela Gaulin and Jared Lax: Candidates for 3L Representative

West Coast, Best Coast

West Coast Best Coast, ‘nough said.

The Texas Club has attempted to wage a rivalry on the West Coast Club through email and social media puffery. Our response: that’s cute.

They are desperately trying to convince students to move to the Lone Star state. After all, Texans are leaving and joining California in droves. But you can see through their propaganda. You didn’t need to be swayed by an ad to come to Harvard Law School, and you don’t need one to move out to the West Coast either. We’re just here to remind you of what the West Coast has to offer.

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David Zwick ’73: Harvard Law’s clean water hero

There is an unfortunately widespread belief among Harvard Law students that young lawyers must wait before they can begin using their newly-acquired lawyering skills to confront the great public problems of our time. “I agree there are problems,” many think. “But who am I to attempt to solve them— and, let alone, solve them now?” 

The life and work of David R. Zwick, who passed away this month, belies this belief.

Zwick, a member of the Harvard Law School class of 1973, did not even wait for graduation! In November 1972, The Record ran a full page story on the then-3L, titled: “Phantom 3L Attacks Pollution, Congress.” The lead reads:

“Author, pollution control advocate and 3L David R. Zwick has taken his time in getting his law degree. Since 1967 when he began his studies at HLS the young pro bono lawyer-to-be has authored two books, directed a national task force investigating water pollution under the auspices of Ralph Nader’s Center for Responsive Law, and completed most of the work toward a degree in public policy in the Kennedy School. The law degree seems anticlimactic.”

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