Seek Affinity and Challenge Community

1L is as emotionally and spiritually challenging as it is academically rigorous. For many, the experience is marked by anxiety about cold calls and reading assignments. You’re also asked to make decisions about summer internships, activities, and classes well before you have a strong grasp of the law and legal profession. All of this pressure can strain your sense of identity, alienating you from who you are and where you’ve come from.

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Being Queer at HLS Means Standing Up

It is impossible to pin down what being queer at Harvard Law entails. The nature of intersectional identities means that every LGBTQ student’s experience is necessarily different. Our many identities—race, gender, class, and otherwise—have been, and continue to be, scrutinized by the law in very different ways. Our members fill all four corners of campus extracurricular life; you can find Lambda members in every affinity group, student practice organization, and journal. You will discover queer individuals engaged in very different work in in all pockets of our school. Our strengths as a community lie in the granularity of our differences. But we have done our best to condense three takeaways about what it means to be a queer 1L at Harvard Law.

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An Interview with I. Glenn Cohen ’03

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

The Record: What is the first thing you would want an incoming 1L to know before they start?

I. Glenn Cohen: You belong. There is a huge tendency to self-discount and to feel ill at ease. You come from probably being the most successful person in the milieau in which you grew up or in which you went to college, to suddenly being surrounded by a huge number of other high achievers, and for me, I feel this pretty acutely. I’m a first-gen student myself. Neither of my parents finished high school. I remember feeling hugely intimidated when I walked through the doors of this place. The fact of the matter is our admissions office is amazing. They truly do pick amazing people with something to contribute, and there are a million different ways to contribute. People tend to be at their worst when they are feeling the anxiety of not belonging or measuring up, and at their best when they feel there is a vibrant community to support them.

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Take Advantage of Opportunities to Learn at HLS

The world you have entered as 1Ls is both daunting and exhilarating. Daunting mostly because ours is a time of broken politics, and – as most of you no doubt already know – the legal and political systems are densely interwoven. Exhilarating because you’re embarking on an adventure of learning about the most challenging puzzles of the legal process and the most innovative ways of tackling them, the areas in which human rights and needs are most neglected or overridden and the most effective ways to contribute to solving the problems underlying such conditions. As you’ll soon discover, those puzzles mix questions about history with moral and ethical challenges; questions about economics and behavioral science with inquiries into the limits of precision, modeling, and quantification; questions about geopolitics with matters of justice both domestically and internationally.

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An Open Letter to the Class of 2021: On Mental Health

Welcome and congratulations, incoming 1Ls! We upperclassmen are excited to have you join us and begin contributing to the vibrant HLS community. As a rising 2L, I have 1L year fresh in my mind, and write on behalf of the Student Mental Health Association (SMHA) with five pieces of advice for you all at this commencement of your law school experience:

    1. If you feel overwhelmed, know that you are not alone. A 2016 study by the American Bar Association found that 17% of law students experience depression and 37% experience anxiety.  It is unfortunately common to feel overwhelmed at points during law school. You have to adjust to a new way of thinking and a new style of instruction. Many incoming students have been out of a classroom for years when they enter HLS. Some come with families, and all with relationships and obligations pulling in different directions. Whichever particular stressors affect you, remember that they are a product of your environment. Feeling stressed, sad, or confused is not an indication that you don’t belong here. It’s normal to have these feelings, and we hope to help students understand the ways that they can mitigate and manage them.
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The Women’s White Collar Defense Association — Women Making a Difference in the White Collar Defense Bar

In 1999, both of the co-founders of the Women’s White Collar Defense Association (“WWCDA”), Karen Popp and Beth Wilkinson, had recently left government service. Popp had been Associate White House Counsel to President Clinton and before that she was in the Office of Legal Counsel at the U.S. Department of Justice and also had served as Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Eastern District of New York. Wilkinson had been an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Eastern District of New York, and later was one of the lead prosecutors in the Oklahoma City bombing cases.  Upon leaving government, the two joined their respective law firms as partners, wanting to be White Collar defense attorneys for corporate America. Popp went to Sidley Austin LLP and Wilkinson went to Latham & Watkins.

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Goodbye, Columbus by Philip Roth

Editor’s note: Jeanne-Rose Arn wrote this paper while she was an LL.M. student at HLS for a course called “The Fiction and Biography of Philip Roth: A Meditation on American Identity.” We present it here.

Goodbye, Columbus is a story about assimilation and about social ascension. But perhaps more importantly it is an initiation novella, in which, of course, Neil’s initiation relates to his assimilation and to his ascension. The story draws a circle, in a short period of time, from the moment he starts trying to be more assimilated, willing to defy his Jewish identity, to the moment he returns to his identity: “what was it inside me that had turned pursuit and clutching into love, and then turned it inside out again? What was it that had turned winning into losing, and losing – who knows – into winning?” (p. 135) The novella takes place during one summer; Neil is 23, he meets his first love, and he is confronted – maybe for the first time – to the real struggling life. It is a transitory summer of questioning, of experiences – an accelerated process of assimilation, during which everything happens “very fast” (p. 17) until he closes the circle.

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A Message to Lawyers and Law Students: We Can Always Afford Justice (And No, Your Taxes Will Not Pay for It)

Most Republicans and Democrats agree on one thing: looming fiscal challenges, made more severe by the recent tax cuts, require that something be done about the budget. According to this view, we didn’t have enough money before, and we have less money now, putting ever more spending on the nation’s “credit card.”

Although lawyers and law students might (wrongly) think broad macroeconomic issues such as distribution and entitlements should be left to economists and policy wonks, they should recognize that fiscal policy involves questions of individual rights and justice in a narrow, legal sense. Courts determine what due process requires in part by evaluating the “financial cost.” Cash-strapped government entities rely on fines and fees for funding, inevitably preying on vulnerable communities. There’s also the massive crisis in legal services, with understaffed and underfunded public defender and civil legal aid offices facing overwhelming caseloads. The results are a disaster, and in each instance, individual rights are subject to fiscal considerations.

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Progressive Jewish Alliance: Stop Violent Repression of Gaza Protests

We, members of the Progressive Jewish Alliance at Harvard Law School, deplore the Israeli government’s violent response to Palestinian protests in Gaza. We join groups around the world in calling for an end to the wanton killing of demonstrators, an end to the siege of Gaza, and ultimately for a democratic future in which both Israelis and Palestinians may live lives of dignity, security, and freedom.

Nothing occurs in a vacuum. While many who defend Israel’s actions ask, “What would you do in the face of protesters seeking to breach the border?,” we ask a different question: “What level of oppression would drive people to risk their lives protesting against one of the world’s most powerful militaries?”

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Why I Am Disappointed with Jeff Flake

What is our Class Day ceremony about? It is a celebration of our hard work as students in law school, and of our induction into the professional world of the law. These are honors whose meaning and value depend in every ounce on the vitality and integrity of the legal system itself.

And so we are lucky, as law school graduates, to be entering into a political environment where the rule of law is of foundational, universal import. And where lawyers wield real, respected authority in the enforcement of law and the pursuit of justice.

But that political environment is currently in crisis. The president’s politics, apparently shared by a large number of high-up Executive and Congressional officials, betray a consistent thread of anti-democratic, authoritarian values. Between denying objective truth, threatening the free press, indulging nativist demagoguery, endorsing racist stereotypes, persecuting unauthorized immigrants, interfering in the free market, laughing off due process[1], selling public influence for private gain, compromising American interests to hostile foreign governments, undermining public faith in the judiciary, and obstructing independent prosecutorial and intelligence agencies, it is not too alarmist to say that the political foundation of this country, and the place of law within it, are under threat. Continue reading “Why I Am Disappointed with Jeff Flake”

From the Archives: Future Justice Breyer proposes income-based deferred tuition to increase public interest participation

This year, students debated different paths forward to increase public interest participation, including reforms to the Low Income Protection Program. As this 1977 Record archive article on future Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer’s proposal for income-based deferred tuition shows, this debate has been happening for a while.

“Pay Later” Schemes Debated

by Terry Keeney

April 15, 1977

The Law School faculty is currently considering proposals to allow students to defer paying tuition bills until after graduation.

The proposals, discussed at the March 30 faculty meeting, are far from the implementation stage. But if the Law School adopts some form of tuition deferral, students in the future may choose to obtain loans for all or part of their educational expenses. Then they would not be required to repay their loan obligations until as late as five or ten years after
graduation, when the rate of repayment would be determined by their income level.

Proponents of the plan argue that tuition deferral would accomplish two purposes. First, it would further shift the burden of financing the student’s legal education from the parents’ current income to the student’s future income. Second, it would remove the pressure on students to take high-paying jobs to repay educational debts and, some proponents hope, encourage more students to enter the less lucrative public-interest career. Continue reading “From the Archives: Future Justice Breyer proposes income-based deferred tuition to increase public interest participation”

Harvard Law School’s Glass Ceilings

I. Introduction

This May marks the 65th anniversary of the first class of women to graduate from Harvard Law School. In 1953, 12 women walked with their class; next month, 280 women will cross the stage and enter the ranks of HLS alumni. In the intervening years, this law school has seen changes of which we should be proud. We now have more than one bathroom for women to use, for starters. Women are no longer just a fraction of the student body: this year’s graduating class is 47.5 percent female, and next year we will have the first majority-female graduation ceremony. Women are on the faculty and in the administration, and feature prominently in accounts of the school’s most illustrious alumni. The Women’s Law Association (WLA) is the largest organization on campus, and female students hold 52 percent of the leadership roles in student organizations.

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