Our Bicentennial Crisis: A Call to Action for Harvard Law School’s Public Interest Mission

This week, Harvard Law School has invited alumni back to campus to celebrate the 200th anniversary of our school’s founding.

But a bicentennial is not just a time for celebration of the past — it is also a time to confront the present and plan the future.  As we celebrate, many students are concerned: about our school being overtaken by corporate interests and losing relevance to the average American; about a watchdog of the law being largely asleep as the institutions of the rule of law and equal justice under law are under siege; and of a school community that has lost track of its declared mission to “educate leaders who contribute to the advancement of justice and the well-being of society.”  

To surface these concerns, I have compiled a report on Harvard Law School’s public interest mission — Our Bicentennial Crisis: A Call to Action for Harvard Law School’s Public Interest Mission — that is being released today to coincide with our school’s bicentennial celebration.  The report aims to document: first, the crisis of mass exclusion from legal power for the average American (in the criminal justice, civil justice and political systems); second, Harvard Law’s failure to address this crisis, and the inaccurate excuses our community tends to give for not addressing it; third, what accounts for this civic deficit; and fourth, twelve reform proposals that aim to help us better live up to our mission.  An electronic copy of the report can be downloaded here. To request a hard copy, email PeDavis@jd18.law.harvard.edu.

Between the 1970s and 1990s, a flurry of critical works — including Duncan Kennedy’s “Legal Education and the Reproduction of Hierarchy,” Joel Seligman’s The High Citadel: The Influence of Harvard Law School, Richard Kahlenberg’s Broken Contract, Scott Turow’s famed One L, and Lani Guinier’s writings on legal education and profession — helped set Harvard Law School on a course from the hidebound, lily-white, cutthroat school of The Paper Chase to the more diverse, pluralist and genial school it is today.

I hope for this report to have a similar motivating impact, inspiring the community to transition from a school community where four out of five graduates deploy their legal educations to advance the legal interests of a wealthy and powerful few to one where a majority of students use their education to serve the interests of the vast, underserved public.

Continue reading “Our Bicentennial Crisis: A Call to Action for Harvard Law School’s Public Interest Mission”

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

Class of 2020, Welcome to HLS!

Dear 1Ls,

Welcome to Harvard Law School! You are about to begin your legal career in the most momentous era of recent memory.

As a lawyer and a law student, you will have the opportunity to make a real difference in people’s lives. Whether in courts of law, in the halls of legislation, or in the public discourse, lawyers have changed and will change the course of history. Your path now joins that of so many others before you who have helped make our society what it is.

The links below contain pieces to help you navigate those difficulties and make the most of your 1L year. They contain a variety of viewpoints from a variety of people. Some of the advice here may be even be contradictory.

Nevertheless, we hope and think that this issue will inform, comfort, and maybe even inspire you. Know that you, your voice, and your actions can and will make a difference.

Again, welcome to HLS. We are so excited to have each of you join our readership and the legal community.

Sincerely,
Jim An, editor-in-chief

P.S. Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter @hlrecord to keep up with our latest stories and HLS news.

How to Make Professors Happy, Says a Professor by D. James Greiner, professor of law
Nervous 1Ls at Harvard Law School Should Open Up by Hector Grajeda ’18, vice president of communciations of La Alianza
Lean Into That Sense of Discomfort by Ariel Stone ’19 and Kamala Buchanan ’19, social chairs of Lambda
Making Time for What’s Important by Peter Im ’18 and Liz Gyori ’19, co-presidents of the Asian Pacific American Law Students Association
Speak Now by Jim An ’18, editor-in-chief of The Record
Resist the Cult of Smart, Embrace the Call to Citizenship by Pete Davis ’18, online editor of The Record
Embrace Your Weirdness by Leilani Doktor ’19, president of the Native American Law Students Association
The Top 5 Pieces of Advice for 1Ls by Aya Gruber ’97, visiting professor
Five First-Year Survival Tips by Elizabeth Chamblee Burch, visiting professor
Be Yourself – It’s What Got You Here by Briana Williams ’18, communications director of the Black Law Students Association
Navigating the Gothic Castle of 1L by Jennifer Reynolds ’07, visiting professor
1Ls, Prioritize Mental Health by Ariella Michal Medows, health and educational consultant
Keeping the Real World in Mind by Kate Thoreson ’19, deputy editor-in-chief of The Record
Welcome Jewish Students! by Gideon Palte ’18 and Benjamin Helfgott ’19, president and community engagement chair of the Jewish Law Students Association
Take Work Seriously, Not Yourself by Sarah Catalano ’19, vice president for membership of the Federalist Society
Remember Your Values at HLS by Lauren Stanley ’18, president of the American Constitution Society
Be Yourself and Find Your Voice by Dalia Deak ’19 and Niku Jafarnia ’19, co-presidents of the Middle Eastern Law Students Association
Remember Your Hobbies by Mary Goetz ’19, co-president of the Chamber Music Society
Female Leadership Matters by Isabel Finley ’19, vice president of the Women’s Law Association

 

An Interview with Dean Manning

On July 1, Professor John Manning ‘85 was appointed the 13th Dean of Harvard Law School. The Record sat down with him for a conversation over the summer. Read on for his thoughts.

This interview has been condensed and edited for length and clarity.

The Record: I want to start out with the hard-hitting, big picture questions. What will be the effect on your teaching load this year?

Dean Manning: I plan on continuing teaching the Public Law Workshop with Professor Daphna Renan. We’ve got a great lineup of speakers. For my spring Legislation and Regulation class, Professor Jacob Gersen has kindly agreed to step in and teach that. In the first year on a new job, I want to focus on learning how to do the best job I can do. We’ll go from there and we’ll see what kind of teaching I can do in the years out.

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