At the Harvard Law Forum: Jacqui Patterson on racism and climate change

Jacqueline Patterson is the Director of the NAACP Environmental and Climate Justice Program. She has worked as a researcher, advocate and activist for women‘s rights, violence against women prevention, HIV & AIDS treatment, racial justice, economic justice, and climate justice.

On October 30, 2017, Patterson came to Harvard Law to discuss the intersection of racism and climate change— to show the Harvard community how to “put racial justice at the center of systemic transformation.”

About Those (Not So) Free Bar Expenses…

Just about now, the bar prep companies are starting to market to 3Ls. If there’s one big winner in this game, it’s Barbri. Everyone uses Barbri! When those scores come around in October, you certainly don’t want to be the one who shuts up when all your law firm colleagues are smiling away. So why not just go with the tried and true and play it safe? The firm’s paying and it’s free, right? Wrong.

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At the Harvard Law Forum: Matt Stoller on Lawyers and Monopoly Power

Matt Stoller is a fellow at the Open Markets program, where he researches the history of the relationship between concentrated financial power and the Democratic Party in the 20th century. Prior to joining the Open Markets program, he was senior policy advisory to the Senate Budget Committee on trade, competition policy, and financial services. His writing has appeared in The Atlantic, The New York Times, The New Republic and The Nation.

On October 19, 2017, he came to Harvard Law School to share insights on the relationship between the legal profession and monopoly capitalism… and let students and faculty know what they can do to protect open markets from the distortions of monopoly power. The video is below:

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.

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Why Harvard Law School Matters: A New Critique

As Harvard Law School celebrates its 200th anniversary with two days on October 26 and 27 of events attended by hundreds of alumni, some law students, led by Pete Davis (’18), are inviting the Law School to engage in extra-ordinary introspection as it looks toward its Third Century.

Mr. Davis, after two years of observation, participation, conversation and research, has produced a major report titled Our Bicentennial Crisis: A Call to Action for Harvard Law School’s Public Interest Mission. Over the past sixty years, many of the beneficial changes at the law school were jolted, driven or demanded by a small number of organized students calling for clinical education, for women and minorities to be admitted as students and faculty, for more affordability, for more realism in their legal education and for more intellectual diversity among the professors (The critical legal studies scholars obliged them up to a point). Over time, the law school administration, with faculty persuasion, responded.

The bicentennial report by Pete Davis asks important questions about the law writ large square in the context of the law school’s long declared mission statement: “to educate leaders who contribute to the advancement of justice and the well-being of society.” Continue reading “Why Harvard Law School Matters: A New Critique”

Title IX: An Investigation

The Record serves the community in part through investigating the goings-on at Harvard Law School. As part of the #MeToo movement, we are soliciting stories, information, and anything else pertaining to Title IX proceedings on campus. If you would like to share any of those things with us, don’t hesitate to send us an e-mail. The law school community benefits from the truth, and that is why we still print.

Name:

Email:

Title:

Letter to the Editor:

Harvard’s Contracts Courses Ignore the Most Important Parts Of Contract Law Today: The End of Freedom of Contract and the Erosion of Tort Law

Our contracts courses are based on mythology. The Book Of Genesis for contracts goes a little something like this: 

“In the beginning, humans made deals with one another. When there is a true ‘meeting of the minds,’ humans shake hands, and the courts enforce that as a binding contract. Contracts make both parties better off by allocating goods efficiently between the two parties, thereby creating value. If John has 5 bushels of wheat, and Jane has 5 gallons of milk, each has too much wheat  or milk to consume by themselves, respectively. John contracts for some of Jane’s milk, Jane contracts for some of John’s wheat, and thereby the excess of wheat and milk is no longer excess, by utilized to its fullest extent. Voila, value is created.”

It’s a nice story. Unfortunately, this mythology little resembles contracts today. The overwhelming majority of today’s contracting looks a bit different: Continue reading “Harvard’s Contracts Courses Ignore the Most Important Parts Of Contract Law Today: The End of Freedom of Contract and the Erosion of Tort Law”

Our Professors Shouldn’t Engage In McCarthyism

Professor Cass Sunstein engaged in a blatant display of McCarthyism in his op-ed for Bloomberg View this week, in which he accused politicians to both the left and the right of him of Marxism.

Both Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders are using Marxist strategies, he argued, because their rhetoric “heightens the contradictions,” a quote directly from (dun dun dun) MARX!

Of course, when Marx talked about “heightening the contradictions” he meant that the contradictions inherent in capitalism must worsen in order to provoke the working class to rise up in revolt. In his view, small reforms that blunt the edge of capitalism would only prolong its existence. Continue reading “Our Professors Shouldn’t Engage In McCarthyism”

Please Join WLA for Feminism and Womanism Week

The Women’s Law Association is hosting our inaugural fall conference, Feminism and Womanism Week, this Wednesday, October 18, 2017 – Friday, October 20, 2017. We kicked off our week with the Feminist Formal last Friday, October 13, 2017, which was completely sold out and a huge success. We have partnered with a number of affinity groups on campus, including Lambda, BLSA, APALSA, MELSA, SALSA, and La Alianza, all of whom are serving as co-sponsors for the conference.

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What to See at HLS in the World

Our alumni readership keeps asking how we’re covering the bicentennial. That is to say, you should all attend HLS in the World on October 27th, because despite the fact that Harvard Law is basically a corporate professional school at this point, I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t have a modicum of intellectual curiosity, and neither would you. Plus, these talks are great!

But, of course, a lot of the talks are full now. You thought you were going to get into the talk on Marbury v. Madison with Susan Davies, Merrick Garland ’77, Kathleen Sullivan ’81, and Larry Tribe ’66 if you’re just now reading this article? LOL.

Here are my recommendations, so don’t say we didn’t tell you this was happening! Register here after you check out our previews.

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A Call to Defend DACA

As law students, we have spent long hours studying the breadth of power granted to our government by the Constitution. As progressives, we believe that power ought to be harnessed to advance the dignity of all people. As Americans, we were outraged when the Trump Administration instead announced that it would use this power to destroy the lives of our classmates, our neighbors, and our friends.  It is yet another step in this government’s swift descent into cruelty, divisiveness, and nativism.

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A Prison Journalist’s Q&A with a Justice Advocate

I am a prison journalist, and I have been incarcerated for almost sixteen years, walking down a twenty-eight-years-to-life sentence for possession of a firearm, drug distribution, and a murder I committed on a Brooklyn street in 2001. I’ve spent most of my time in Attica Correctional Facility and recently transferred to Sing Sing Correctional Facility, another maximum-security prison, but this one closer to New York City. The prison is bustling with civilians involved with several privately funded programs: music, theater, higher education. There is also a group called Voices From Within (VFW), sponsored by NBC Dateline producer Dan Slepian, that hosts events with the youth, hipping them to the warning signs of trouble and offering them better life choices.

Years ago, VFW raised $8,000 from the prison population for a gun buyback. The money was supposed to be matched by several community partners but that never happened. Enter Bianca Tylek. Formerly with the Brennan Center for Justice, she is now the director of a new initiative at the Urban Justice Center called the Corrections Accountability Project.

In December 2016, Bianca met with VFW and learned that the gun buyback money was sitting idle. She vowed to help match it and published an article about the project at Huff Post on May 21, 2017. She kept her word. In September, Bianca met with VFW and reported to them that she managed to raise $10,000. Having begun my prison journalism career with articles on gun control, I supported her efforts 100 percent. While the logistics of the project still need to be sorted out, I thought it was time to shine a light on what she was doing. An editor put me in touch with her and she was game to talk to me. Continue reading “A Prison Journalist’s Q&A with a Justice Advocate”

The Threat of Big Data Surveillance

You are being tracked by the digital clues you leave behind. On campus, every computer-log in, tweet, or electronic ID card potentially identifies your location. Outside school, depending on where you live, your car is tagged by automatic license plate readers, your face by surveillance cameras, and your social media posts captured by those wishing to monitor your activities. If you carry a smartphone, computer, or tablet, your digital life is being revealed to third party companies and the government entities that lawfully request that private information. These digital trails will only increase as the Internet of Things begins turning ordinary objects into data-rich sources of surveillance. In short, citizens (especially young, digitally savvy citizens) are creating a web of self-surveillance that offers convenience and social control in equal measure.

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NALSA Indigenous Peoples’ Day Statement

The Native American Law Students Association at Harvard Law School calls upon Harvard University to recognize Indigenous Peoples’ Day as the official school holiday on the second Monday in October. In continuing to celebrate Columbus Day, Harvard University disregards the student body’s strong support of this measure by not taking any action to catalyze this change.

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