Ball Game : Disney Knuckleball


Dennis Quaid is soaking wet. Rain fills every inch of the air surrounding him; rivulets of it run swift and steady through the many creases in his tattered face. Baseball caps are better shade trees than umbrellas, as Quaid’s proves by yielding to the shoulder-bound spouts that arise at regular intervals on its surface.

But Quaid is playing Jim Morris, and Morris is unfazed by climatic conditions. He screws his wrinkled maw into position, grimly channeling the phrase, “don’t fuck with me,” though there is no batter in the box. The face is by now a ritual, as much a part of Morris’s pitching motion as the movement of his fingers or hips as he leans back to begin his delivery. He’s going to throw a fastball. He always throws the fastball.

There is a slight pop, a heady whoosh, and the ball flashes almost imperceptibly across the wide, wide screen. As the sound whizzes from the right speaker to the left, terminating in the satisfying THWACK of ball against mitt, you realize that CinemaScope and Digital Theatre Sound were made for baseball movies.

It’s a nice moment, one of several in Disney’s true-life adventure The Rookie, wherein the House that Eisner Built keeps the schlock to a considerate minimum and seasons it with a healthy amount of the gravel and grit that pave the jagged surfaces of real life in America.

Sure, Quaid looks very little like the mustachioed Morris, whose big-league debut at age 35 squeezed ink from the pens of sports scribes nationwide. Sure, Jim’s wife (played robustly by Rachel Griffiths, of HBO’s Six Feet Under) is a little too saintly in her handling of three young children while Jim works his way through the minor leagues. Sure, Jim’s spunky firstborn, Hunter, is unbearably adoring and adorable. And yes, we are asked to stomach some sidekick-y comic types as inhabitants of Big Lake, TX, where Jim coaches high school ball. There’s the Wily Hick, the Nearsighted Old Coot, and even the Wacky Black Kid – though the latter quickly cedes the spotlight to the Fiesty Latin Slugger.

But despite all of this, director John Lee Hancock (himself a rookie) and writer Mike Rich deftly resist the urge to paint their picture by the Disney numbers. Quaid is one real asset to their cause. His careful demeanor and measured (line) delivery are well-matched to his leathery exterior, allowing him to convey sincere affection for his family and his team without resorting to cloying sentimentality or emasculated pleading. In the film’s Big Game Pep Talk, he doesn’t even allude to the bargain that has kept the Owls in the pennant race all season. His major-league tryout can wait; for now “[t]his team has won 16 games. We need 17.”

Hancock and Rich also profit from the talents of (frequent Michael Bay flunky) John Schwartzman, whose camera makes fluent and frequent use of rain and sunbeams to highlight the on-field dramatics. Schwartzmann also succeeds at documenting the maddening, glorious flatness of Jim’s Texas environs – which David Byrne once called their “same but more” quality. Perhaps his only weakness lies in a predilection for what my date called “soft, glowy light” whenever Ms. Griffiths steps on screen.

The music is also remarkable – almost exclusively genuine and heart-rending country & western. Like the lines on Quaid’s face, every note sung by Willie Nelson or Guy Clark (“Stuff that Works”!) seems to encapsulate the whole tragedy of Jim’s middle age: I’m stuck in Texas, I never made something of myself, and man, am I down!

Unfortunately, even a small dose of reality, when injected into the rigid Disney formulae, can be enough to remind one that life always resists reduction to 90 wholesome minutes. The Rookie clocks in at 126 – downright epic for a G-rated picture. Even at that length, it really can’t explore the brevity of Morris’s big league career (he pitched 15 innings, over parts of 1999 and 2000) or the reasons for his departure (eventually he re-injured his arm; the film gives the not implausible impression that he simply had no curveball).

Against these omissions, long scenes of domestic chores or children’s birthday parties begin to seem like extraneous padding. Because of their demonstrated good faith, though, I’m willing to give Hancock and Rich the benefit of the doubt, and remember the immortal words of Joel Hodgson: “Only Love Pads the Film.”

Vino & Veritas


My last column. Wow.

I’ve been writing this thing on and off for the past three years, and now it’s about to end. I’ll miss having a campus-wide platform that comes with virtually no editing. And although what was said about the column in the Parody is probably true, I hope you’ve still laughed at some of the jokes and perhaps even learned something. I’ve tried to use a light touch, except when the subject matter called for something heavier, as it did a couple of weeks ago. In any event, I hope you’ve enjoyed it.

Rather than belabor the valediction, I suppose I should just get started, which is what I’ll do now.

Fenno sat in the Hark-

(Oops, wrong column.) I love Rhone wines.

Whether you’re looking for lip-smacking fruit at $10 a bottle or raw, ageworthy muscle for more than 20 times that, the Rh?ne Valley has something for you. If, forsaking all others, I had to pick the wines of one region to drink for the rest of my life, I’d pick Rhones.

To use a baseball metaphor, if Bordeaux and Burgundies are the Yankees – unquestionably dominant, in terms of both talent and history – Rhones are the Braves – reliable and consistently excellent, even if, on average, they don’t usually manage to come out on top.

The Rhone Valley has two primary geographical divisions – the “Northern Rhone” and the “Southern Rhone.” (Okay, not everything about French wines is hard to remember.) For red wine, the most significant Northern Rhone regions are Cote Rotie, Hermitage and Crozes-Hermitage, all of which make wines almost entirely from the Syrah grape. (In Australia, Syrah is called Shiraz, but they are exactly the same grape – big, spicy and rich.)

Both Cote Rotie and Hermitage tend to be fairly expensive – easily $40 and up – but can last for years and are worth it if you like brawny wines that smack you around a little. (Bargains can be found in the lesser appellation of Crozes-Hermitage, where prices start in the high teens.) They taste of dark, roasted fruit and sometimes have an almost meaty, barnyard-like quality on the nose. That isn’t as nasty as it sounds; it’s an earthiness that gives the wine some guts, and you don’t taste the barnyard when you drink it.

Vintage-wise, 1999 was among the best ever; 1995, 1997 and 1998 were also very good. As for whites in the Northern Rhone, check out Condrieu if you’re willing to splurge – it’s 100 percent Viognier, delicate and floral – and drink them within the first three years of the vintage. The Southern Rhone differs from the Northern Rhone in the diversity of both its grapes and its prices. The dominant grape in this region is Grenache, but other commonly found grapes include Syrah, Cinsault, Mourvedre and Carignan.

The Southern Rhone offers a range from which can produce inexpensive, fruit-bomb wines in the Cotes du Rhone, Cotes du Ventoux and Lirac, or more serious, ageworthy wines in Gigondas, Vacqueyras and – perhaps the king of all Rhone wines, Northern or Southern -Chateauneuf du Pape.

(In a recent issue of his newsletter, wine critic Robert M. Parker said that Chateauneuf du Pape, which can include up to 13 grape varietals, “produces one of the world’s most sumptuous wines that remains one of oenophilia’s best kept secrets.” Calling Parker a “wine critic,” by the way, is like calling Laura Cappiello “kinda pretty.”)

The less expensive Southern Rhones tend to be juicy, with lots of cherry fruit; the more expensive ones can have a black-cherry richness that’s infused with roasted herbs and brambly fruits. As for vintages, 1998 is widely considered the best year ever in the Southern Rhone; 1999 and 2000 are excellent as well. Upshot: if you buy a Rhone wine with 1998 or later on the bottle, you’re likely to be in for a treat.

Before I turn to the tasting notes, a quick word on some of the big Rhone names to look for. The following producers, listed roughly in order of preference, are all top-notch and should be widely available: Beaucastel, Guigal, Domaine du Caillou, Domaine de la Janasse, Paul Jaboulet-Aine, Chapoutier, and Vieux Telegraph.

Tasting notes:

Last week, I went to an In Vino Veritas wine tasting, where we tasted several wines from Chapoutier, a giant in the Rhone. Among the highlights of the evening, besides getting to sit next to Taryn Fielder all night, was the 1998 Cote Rotie Les Becasses ($94.99 retail), which had a huge barnyard of a nose, with tons of bacon fat and spice in the mouth. (Taryn didn’t like it, so I got to drink hers.) The 1999 Crozes-Hermitage Les Meysonniers Rouge ($27.99 retail) was also great, tasting of leather and roasted fruits. (Taryn: “I would drink this.”)

As for the Southern Rhone Chapoutiers, the 1999 Cotes du Rhone Belleruche Rouge ($10.99 retail), a 50/50 blend of Syrah and Grenache, was a straightforward, cherry-fruited wine with more structure and a longer finish than I expected for the price. The 1999 Chateauneuf du Pape La Bernadine Rouge ($44.99 retail) was a smoky, powerful wine with deep black cherry fruit, although it could definitely use more time in the bottle. (Taryn: “Maybe I’m getting drunk, but it’s a bit too much.”) Finally, a white: I found the nutty and citrusy 1999 Chateauneuf du Pape La Bernadine Blanc ($44.99 retail) to be tasty but not nearly worth the high price. (Taryn: “Yummy.” Funny, that’s what I’ve always said about her.)

As for other wines I’ve drunk in the past few weeks – all but one of which I bought at Marty’s – among the best was something I bought with my friend Josh Solomon (one of next year’s RECORD wine columnists) at the Public Interest Auction: a 1990 Guigal Hermitage (around $100 retail) that was inky black, huge, roasted and deep. Bacon fat, smoke and spice abounded. Simply wonderful. Also excellent – one of the best wines I’ve drunk all year – was the Chateau St. Cosme Gigondas 2000 ($22.99). Loaded with depth, brambly fruit, herbs and roasted herbs, it is an astonishing wine.

The Domaine La Garrigue Cuvee Speciale Vacqueyras 1999 ($11.99) was a classic Rhone wine; roasted black fruits, cassis and herbs de Provence abounded in this eminently gulpable wine. Less intense but with pretty good structure were two Cotes du Rhone, the Domaine Brusset Cairanne Cotes du Rhone Villages ($14.99), which had straight-ahead black cherry fruit as well as some saddle leather and smoke, and the Louis Bernard Cotes du Rhone Villages ($11.99), spicy and fairly big, but with slightly less body. In that price range, the juicy Chateau Pesquie Les Terrasses Cotes du Ventoux 2000 ($9.99), which burst with cherries and blackberries, may be a better buy.

Of two wines by the same producer from a region that borders the Rhone, one is recommended: the Mas de Gourgonnier Reserve du Mas Les Baux de Provence 2000 ($16.99) was a juicy, raspberry-filled delight with faint hints of spice, whereas the non-reserve Mas de Gourgonnier Les Baux de Provence 2000 ($11.99) was overly thin and light.

Finally, a white wine that will make you think: the Alain Voge Saint PÎray 1999 ($21.99) was voluptuous and complex; I tasted caramel popcorn, flowers, lemon and petrol and had I not needed to taste about eight other wines the night I drank it, I probably would have found more.

As for non-Rhones I’ve drunk recently, two great German whites deserve mention. First is the Dinstlgut Loiben Gruner Veltliner Spatlese 1999 ($10.99), which was surprisingly complex for the price. Fresh green apples dominated, but there were also notes of white pepper, banana, and even gunflint. Second, perhaps better overall but with less bang for the buck, was the Domaine Zind Humbrecht Clos Hauserer 1997 ($19.99), another fruit basket of a wine, boasting tropical fruits like papaya but also overtones of petrol that kept it from being unctuous.

Speaking of unctuous, avoid the overly syrupy Cham
bers Rosewood Vineyards Rutherglen Tokay
($15.99, 375 ml). I love dessert wines, but this one lacked balance – it was simply too cloying, especially after a heavy dinner. Other wines to avoid are the underfruited Morellino di Scansano Le Mandorlae 1998 ($10.99), the overoaked Capcanes Mas Collet 1999 ($9.99) and the bland Tardieu-Laurent Les Grands Augustins Vin de Pays D’Oc 2000 ($12.99).

Thanks for reading – and happy drinking!

Nesson says Rakoff suggested he remove himself from teaching 1Ls


Days after stepping aside for others to teach his Torts class, Professor Charles Nesson now says he was encouraged to do so by J.D. Dean Todd Rakoff. In an interview with the RECORD, Nesson also called on the administration – particularly Dean of the Faculty Robert Clark – to state publicly that the move was not designed to discipline him.

Nesson’s comments shed light on the unusual decision last week for Rakoff and Professor Mort Horwitz to conduct Section IV’s Torts classes until the end of the semester. The decision came on the heels of the recent race-related controversy that began in the section, which prompted a student protest last Monday. Some students were particularly riled by Nesson’s offer to represent 1L Matthias Scholl, who sent an anonymous e-mail using the word, “nigger,” in a mock trial.

Both the Nesson decision and the race controversy have caught the eye of the national media, including an article in Saturday’s New York Times. In a story filed by the Associated Press on Monday, Rakoff said Nesson had agreed to the plan because Nesson felt he “could do more for his students this way.”

In the RECORD interview, Nesson said he considered Rakoff a friend, and did not refer to Rakoff as “the baby dean” as he has in past interviews. “I took [the plan] as an offer of assistance, generously made by Todd, for whom I have the utmost amount of trust, for bringing a divided section back together,” Nesson said.

But Nesson had harsh words for Clark, saying, “I’m confident of Todd, but there are those beyond of whom I can’t speak. Bob Clark has so far said nothing, and I’ve seen the school make no effort, at least no effort of consequence, to alter the public impression that I’ve been yanked,” he added.

Nesson defended his mock trial scheme as a “pedagogic moment,” designed to resolve the issues by engaging students in discussion.

“I was met with the claim that this is not a pedagogical moment,” he said, “by suggesting that subjects not be explored in a legally structured way, should not be discussed in class.”

As for the larger controversy, Nesson said he views the BLSA protests as part of wider racial discontent at the university. In discussing the controversy, Nesson frequently mentioned the controversy surrounding Afro-Americna Studies Prof. Cornel West and President Lawrence Summers.

“If we’re part of a larger story, then the law school’s not in charge of its own story,” Nesson said. “The question is, what is the whole story? Was [Summers’ attitude toward West] an expression of hostility toward black people, or was this a way of insensitivity in the way the president went about it? That’s the difference between intentional and unintentional tort. And that’s the story I believe remains to be told.”

“I credit BLSA for having proceeded with an excellent strategy and complete civility.

“But nonetheless, when you write a letter to the Deans and the Harvard Law RECORD, you look for targets. And that’s where two white guys named Nesson and Rosenberg come in. Both of us are passionate teachers, both of us believe that law school is a place to meet tough issues head on and discuss them,” Nesson said.

In a letter in last week’s RECORD, Nesson answered BLSA’s demands by offering “to appear before you to answer the complaint you have made against me” provided, Nesson wrote, “that the proceedings be recorded.” BLSA had rejected the idea, Nesson said, without explanation.

Nesson has been known for recording his own journal entries as well as conversations with others. Among the interviews posted on his web site is one conducted with the RECORD in February in which he discussed his use of marijuana.

After Nesson’s comments were reported in the Washington Post and elsewhere, Clark sent Nesson a March 8 letter that asked for “an assurance that you do not engage in any prohibited conduct.” It added, “I strongly believe it is inappropriate for a member of Harvard’s Faculty of Law to use a controlled substance in violation of the law under any circumstances.”

On March 11, Nesson responded that he “will comply fully with Harvard University’s and Harvard Law School’s rules and policies with respect to controlled substances.” He said Tuesday that there has been no further action by the administration on the issue.

As for his future at HLS, Nesson said he plans to teach Evidence in the winter term, but will be on leave in the fall.

“What I’d like to see is me continue to be a respected member of this faculty, and I’d like to see Harvard Law School address its issues of concern in ways that express our full commitment to open discussion, to the challenge that students come here to learn about real life. And I’d like to see Harvard Law School contribute to the resolution of the greater crisis here at Harvard,” Nesson said.

Top Honors


Between constant jibes and jokes, the HLS Mock Trial Team, consisting of 3Ls Matthew Whitley and Cecilia Dickson and 1Ls Rick Su and Rex Lee, won top honors at the Association of Trial Lawyers of America’s National Trial Advocacy tournament in Chicago on March 21-24. In a field of 225 teams from 140 law schools, the HLS Mock Trial Team defeated Pepperdine to capture first place at the end of the grueling three-day competition, becoming the first HLS team to achieve that distinction.

“The secret of our success,” said Whitley, “is that we got along so well together, always joking while we always worked hard and made our deadlines.”

Lee described the preparation from October, when the materials for the case were distributed, through February, when the team would meet for four to five hours a day or longer to refine their core theory and practice delivering motions, statements and cross-examinations.

In each round, two team members serve as attorneys while the other two serve as witnesses. Whitley and Su served as attorneys on the plaintiff’s side, while Whitley and Dickson served as attorneys on the defendant’s side. Lee served as a witness on both sides. The team is not judged on whether they win the case, but on the quality of their advocacy.

This year’s case involved a wrongful death action in which a firefighter fell to his death from a cliff while trying to assist the defendant, an inexperienced rock climber who became stranded at night. Whitley noted, “The type of case we handled is different from what is usually handled in the clinical programs or in normal HLS corporate practice, because it was a large civil suit.”

Regarding the relative inexperience of the team, Lee observed, “We were a fairly unique commodity at the tournament, since most other teams consisted exclusively of 3Ls and 2Ls who had done this before.” Lee noted that other schools brought 1Ls to observe the competition and prepare for next year. Only Whitley, who was widely viewed as the team leader, had previous law school mock trial experience.

Many of the participating schools are widely known for their trial advocacy programs, an area where Harvard is currently unranked in at least one national ranking. However, Whitley noted that the team had a particularly tough draw, and knocked out last year’s championship team in the early rounds.

“Between the regional and national competitions,” Whitley noted, “we picked up 33 out of 35 judges, and never lost a judge until the quarterfinals.”

Whitley attributes that success in part to the cohesiveness of the team. “We drafted every section of our presentation ourselves, as part of a cohesive whole. It was obvious that other teams had different people working on different parts of their presentations, so that one team member might be unfamiliar with another’s statements.”

The team was assisted in part by Lecturers Peter Murray and Lawrence Friedman, who observed practice rounds and opening and closing statements. Lee observed, “Friedman’s help was particularly effective, since he devoted two entire Saturday afternoons to helping us prepare and provided extremely helpful critiques.”

The Mock Trial Team first earned the right to attend the national competition by winning a regional competition that included ten schools and 16 teams. In the regional competition on March 1-3, the two Harvard teams placed first and second, but only the first place team was invited to the national competition.

Whitley, who recruited the team members for both teams and provided primary training for all participants, was particularly grateful to Dean of Students Suzanne Richardson for her support. “My first year with the program, the 3Ls had to ask their future employers to provide financial support for the team, but Dean Richardson’s pre-approval helped us to focus on practicing instead of fundraising.”

Asked about the relevance of the competition, Whitley noted that “Participation in competitions like this helps dispel the myth that Harvard does not train students for trial advocacy, and helps students who are interested in alternatives to corporate practice to explore those possibilities.”

Su observed that “At Harvard, we have a clear emphasis on internal competitions, but I learned a great deal from the styles and approaches to advocacy that other schools were employing.”

Regarding participation in other national competitions, Whitley said “I would love it if we could do more competitions like this, but handling the logistics of travel, accommodations, and money is difficult for students…. Most other programs receive credit for participation and have full-time advisors involved at every phase. We would need something similar to participate in more of the competitions that are available.”

Off Target


When I first read in the RECORD about the Harvard Law School Target Shooting Club last fall, I found myself pleasantly surprised. Here was a target shooting club whose sole purpose appeared to be organizing students to go target shooting. The students, all of whom were competent legal adults, took occasional weekend trips up to New Hampshire to practice recreational target practice at a licensed range. There are relatively few gun clubs in this country that simply gather their members together to enjoy safe target practice and camaraderie, and nothing more. Most shooting clubs double as political advocacy organizations, taking a hard-line stance against any effort to regulate the lethality or availability of guns. I had no problem with the HLS Target Shooting Club because I believed they fell into the former category.

I have a problem with them now. As last week’s RECORD noted, the HLS Target Shooters have gone public with disappointing advocacy statements that will not enrich the national gun debate. In the April 13th issue of The Economist, the Target Shooters’ founder, Sasha Volokh, noted that the he “plans to hold a wide range of gun-themed events on campus, including screening of films which feature ‘regular people using guns as a force for good.'” In the Economist article, Volokh also discusses his view that “enthusiasm for guns is a form of counter-cultural rebellion, rather like smoking cigars.” After reading this article, I looked at the Internet site for the Target Shooting Club and realized that one of club’s organizational purposes is “to help students understand and intelligently contribute to the public policy and constitutional debate on firearms.” My impression now is that this organization is not solely or even primarily about recreational shooting: It is about publicly advancing the beliefs that guns are good, and that those disenchanted with liberal culture can strike back by standing up for guns and gun rights.

I see little wrong with HLS Target Shooters’ advocacy for safe, recreational target shooting. But if the HLS Target Shooters plan to use the media attention that comes with their Harvard Law affiliation to influence the national gun debate, they should strive to make a more balanced and constructive contribution. Volokh’s statement that guns can be used as a “force for good” demonstrates the tendency on both sides of the gun debate to employ overbroad and unhelpful characterizations.

Rather than debating whether guns are “good” or “bad,” the public policy debate on firearms should recognize that: (1) firearms present benefits as well as risks; (2) most Americans agree that the benefits of guns (such as the opportunity to participate in safe recreational target shooting) should be maximized, while the risks of guns should be guarded against; and (3) the process of balancing benefits and risks will benefit more from detailed debate than from cultural rebellion. In fact, the Target Shooting Club’s call for rebelling against a liberal culture resembles the hard line that most gun advocacy groups take against any regulation of firearms. These positions demonstrate an us-against-them mentality, without recognizing that the debate over guns in this country will not be resolved unless both sides reach compromises that accommodate their respective interests.

Because I share Volokh’s goal of making intelligent contributions to the firearms debate, I would like to initiate a public discussion with the HLS Target Shooters Club. We could begin this discussion by addressing a controversial firearms issue: how our nation should try to minimize the risk that unsupervised children will obtain guns and use them to shoot themselves or others. It is incontrovertible that accidental and intentional child shootings are unacceptable in our society, and that precautions should be made to ensure that those shootings cease. However, there is great disagreement over what types of precautions should be imposed. Detailed discussion on how to best structure these precautions would be a truly valuable contribution to the national debate on guns. I call on the HLS Target Shooters to participate in this discussion, starting either this spring or next fall.

Because the HLS Target Shooters are linked to the Harvard Law name, they will attract media attention, and they will have their chance to contribute to the public policy debate on firearms. But their contribution would be more valuable if they abandon their “counter-cultural rebellion” and either advocate for what they enjoy – recreational target shooting by competent legal adults in a safe facility – or else discuss how the interests of those who enjoy firearms can best be balanced with the interests of those who fear them. There are enough gun advocacy organizations already willing to make broad statements about how guns are good and about how to stick it to liberals. The HLS Target Shooters should try to aim for a loftier place in the national gun debate.

Spring Cleaning


At 6:50 a.m. Saturday, when a 5.1 magnitude earthquake awoke many students at HLS, some of Springfest’s organizers and volunteers didn’t notice. They were already up and concerned with more important things. There was painting to be done, food to be distributed, a house to be constructed and riverbanks to be cleaned. As if that wasn’t enough, there was also a school-wide party to arrange.

In the end, organizers declared that Springfest Volunteer Service Day was an unequivocal success. Almost 300 students showed up to volunteer Saturday morning in an event that sent them across the city to work everywhere from the Chinatown Immigration Examination Center to the Cambridge YMCA.

Cleaning Up

Sponsored by the Student Public Interest Network, HL Central and the Dean of Students’ Office, Springfest was designed to let Law School students make a big impact on the community in just one day. One-L sections and student groups, which sponsored or co-sponsored some sort of service project, recruited volunteers from their ranks.

The projects were as varied as the groups themselves. The Black Law Students’ Association brought students from an inner-city school to participate in a mock appellate competition and panel discussion, while the Tenant Advocacy Project, Defenders and the Latter Day Saints Students Association helped to clean up and paint a homeless center.

The Women’s Law Association sponsored a cleanup for a shelter and outreach program in Dorchester. The work was mostly manual labor outside, but according to Site Coordinator Emily Spitser, it was very rewarding. “I think the beautiful weather quickly made the volunteers forget how early they had woken up in order to participate in Springfest,” she said.

While WLA volunteers were battling weeds, Harvard Asia Law Society volunteers were helping potential Chinese immigrants prepare for immigration exams. “What was rewarding about the experience is how excited and eager all the participants were to learn. Many of them are in their 50s and 60s, and struggle with English. Here they were on a Saturday and a Sunday, taking notes, asking questions and above all enthusiastic to get as much out of this program as they could, while at the same time having fun,” HALS Co-President Niclas Ericsson said.

Some of the projects may have been as helpful to the volunteers themselves as they were to those they were helping. Across town in Brookline, the Law Review did outdoor work at the Ivy Street School. Chris Kolovos, Coordinating Editor for the Review said, “Many of our volunteers got a kick out of breaking up large trash (mostly old furniture) and throwing the pieces in the dumpster.” Some volunteers, he said, “were especially excited about the chance for violent stress relief, especially during third-year paper season.”

The biggest project by far was an Earth Day cleanup of the Charles River. Fourteen different groups and 1L sections participated in the massive project organized by the Charles River Watershed Association.

Always a Party

While volunteers were out making the world better, others were scrambling to put together an afternoon party for their return. There might have been a little rain, but that didn’t keep students from enjoying what has become an annual festival.

There was no dunking booth this year, but there was cotton candy, hamburgers and, of course, back massages sponsored by Westlaw. At other booths, LL.Ms provided Yorkshire pudding and sushi, while Lincoln’s Inn provided the Jell-O shots. The Appleseed Center for Electoral Reform sponsored a dart contest where students could take aim at clean elections foe and Massachusetts House Speaker Thomas Finneran. And in a similar vein, the Harvard Law School Democrats held a game of Twister where participants were forced to step on pictures of prominent Republicans.

Over at the Drama Society booth, Society President 2L Elie Mystal offered popcorn and explained that his group wasn’t able to hire the mimes or clowns they had hoped for. Apparently, hiring a mime for an hour will set you back $150. But shouldn’t the drama society be able to handle that one themselves? “We have lots of talents in the drama society – miming is not one of them,” Mystal said.


Although this was the first year that Springfest had a volunteer component, the event’s origin can be traced back to LIPPfest two years ago, an outdoor party organized by SPIN to advocate for the school’s Low Income Protection Plan. Last year, the event became SPrINgfest, but organizers at SPIN said they felt the event needed to reconnect with the group’s public interest mission.

Having watched the event develop for the last three years, 3L T.J. Duane said that this year’s Springfest was the most successful because of its emphasis on public service. “I can say having been the only person to work on all three, that this year was by far the most complicated but the most rewarding. I am thrilled with the event and the prospect of it being an annual school-wide event,” Duane said.

There is some controversy over who exactly had the idea of turning Springfest into a day of volunteering, but all of the event’s organizers said that they felt it was important for the school to have a day dedicated to students volunteering. LL.M. students Geraldine Chin and Fiona Tregonning, who co-chaired the event as members of SPIN as well as being HL Central members, said that they had heard about a day of volunteering at MIT and felt that HLS should have a similar event.

Virginia Davis, President of SPIN, said that organizing volunteer opportunities was a “big shift” for the organization. She added that the event was important because it provided an opportunity for groups to volunteer that would not otherwise participate in community service projects.

Over at HL Central, Springfest Co-Chair Ariane Decker said that her group’s involvement in this year’s Springfest stemmed from its commitment to public service. Decker said that the event was one of many community service projects that HL Central had organized.

“I had originally planned to do an all-school volunteer day – it was by chance that we ended up combining it with, the annual Springfest event,” she said. “HL Central is making a very concerted effort to increase community service and volunteerism at HLS,” Decker said.

Another HL Central Co-Chair of the event, 1L Rita Bolt, said that the day was designed to have an impact even beyond the community service projects themselves. “Hopefully, the event will grow year by year and will increase awareness of the community service opportunities in the Cambridge area,” Bolt said.

So who really pulled off this year’s Springfest? Duane gives equal credit to both groups. “This event was a product of the positive collaboration of both organizations and in retrospect the amount of effort that went into it really made it necessary to have both groups collaborating.”

As far as next year goes, all of the organizers said they expect the event to be even bigger.

Too cheap to meter?


The Bush Administration’s energy policy calls for expansion of the nation’s nuclear energy capacity. Vice President Cheney’s energy task force recommended that the administration relicense and increase the capacity of older plants, expedite applications to build new facilities, provide tax breaks for the nuclear industry and invest in research and development.

Increasing reliance on nuclear power is hardly a new idea. President Eisenhower was an early proponent, and President Nixon (Cheney’s old boss) did everything he could to realize his prediction that the U.S. would have 1,000 nuclear power plants by the year 2000 (there are 103 reactors today, providing roughly 20 percent of our electricity). But for the efforts of a determined grassroots anti-nuclear movement, Nixon’s prophecy might have come true.

For those who believe that Bush is both competent and sincere, this policy must be exceptionally difficult to understand. If Bush is serious enough about the war on terror to revoke the civil rights of thousands of Americans, why is he calling for construction of easy targets for terrorists? If a nuclear facility blew up, the resulting radiation cloud would dwarf the ones at Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Three Mile Island and Chernobyl. A simple truck bomb could do the trick. Nuclear facilities have notoriously lax security, and given how often incompetent facility employees have brought us within inches of a disaster (within three-eighths of an inch at FirstEnergy’s Davis Besse plant), a terrorist who got into a facility could easily trigger a meltdown. Bush wants to have nuclear waste shipped from all over the country to a permanent storage facility in Yucca Mountain. This would be the greatest mass of nuclear material ever gathered in one place, and both the trucks transporting the waste and the facility itself are prime targets.

Of course, the risk of disaster was high long before September 11. Lax security, incompetent management and a hands-off regulatory approach have brought U.S. reactors to the brink of meltdown on numerous occasions. These near-catastrophes tend not to get reported, and neither do foreign disasters. Indeed, most people do not even know that the largest nuclear catastrophe in history since Hiroshima and Nagasaki occurred not at Chernobyl, but at Chelyabinsk in Russia (its Cold War code name was “Mayak”). From 1949 until 1956, the Soviets poured nuclear waste directly into the Techa River, giving tens of thousands of people living downstream doses ranging from 4 to 57 times greater than at Chernobyl. In 1957, a nuclear waste dump there exploded, sending at least 70 metric tons of waste into the sky. Hundreds of thousands of people were exposed to radiation levels comparable to those at Chernobyl. In 1967, after the Soviets had been dumping nuclear waste in Lake Karahay for 16 years, a cyclone swept the lake’s irradiated silt into the air, affecting nearly half a million people.

The Soviets covered up all three disasters, but the CIA knew about every one of them. The U.S. government refused to publicize the information because it did not want Americans to know how dangerous nuclear power could be. Given that Chernobyl will ultimately cause between 50,000 and 250,000 deaths, we can only imagine how much “collateral damage” the U.S. accepted when it helped the U.S.S.R. deceive the people living in and around Chelyabinsk. The U.S. did not treat its own citizens much better: U.S. facilities like Hanford Nuclear Reservation secretly poisoned rivers for decades and released extraordinary amounts of radiation into the air.

All of this risk makes nuclear power decidedly unprofitable. Even Cheney acknowledges that the nuclear industry could not survive without government subsidies. Federal government gifts to the nuclear industry totaled $7.1 billion in 1996. About two thirds of federal research and development money goes to the nuclear industry. A utility’s liability is capped at $7 billion, even though a meltdown could create costs of over $300 billion (never mind the thousands of deaths). If the industry had to insure against liability in the absence of a cap, such insurance would cost $3 billion per year. The government has lost $10 billion producing enriched uranium fuel for the industry and lost at least another $2 billion privatizing the operation. The Yucca Mountain waste storage site (which is, incidentally, the least geologically sound of the possible sites the government considered) will cost $40 or $50 billion to build. Taxpayers will ultimately have to shoulder at least $30 billion in plant decommission costs, and Vice President Cheney has proposed what will amount to billions of dollars in decommission fund tax breaks for the industry.

Anyone who wants to know why the administration would adopt this ludicrous policy should examine Bush’s FEC filings. The nuclear industry, military contractors and numerous other companies who profit from nuclear power were quite generous in the months leading up to the 2000 election.

For the love of legal writing


Thus far unable to inspire even a single nasty letter to the editor, I was relieved to see that my column had landed a coveted mention in Fenno. Even better, Fenno was providing free editorial advice: law school columnists shouldn’t write about “law,” Fenno opined. I eagerly jotted down the suggestion. After all, Fenno is a true journalistic role model whose column last week tackled the novel, important and original topic of OCS recruiting, complete with hip references to the bad weather and the remote location of the Charles Hotel. Now if only I can identify Fenno from a lineup of Law Review editors, I will exact revenge for having been forced to devote valuable seconds of my life to discovering the meaning of “Iphgenia” [sic].

Fenno, however, may have been on to something — at least unwittingly. Why is it that the mere thought of reading an article about a Supreme Court case or a legal issue produces vigorous yawns, glazed facial expressions and narcoleptic episodes beyond even Starbucks’ competence to remedy? Fenno’s malaise may reflect an unfortunate reality of modern day legal education: nobody teaches students the practice of good legal writing. Aside from the obligatory 1L FYL debacle, in which eager young solicitors learn the art of leading with a conclusion, and the typical professorial admonition that “concise answers will be rewarded in grading,” our erstwhile instructors neglect the legal craft.

This omission is unfortunate, for two reasons. First, effective legal argumentation requires more than pure substance. A clever soundbite or artful turn of phrase conveys the underlying substantive point far more persuasively than does formalistic legal jargon. That a constitution is more than a legal code is memorialized by Chief Justice Marshall’s caution that “We must never forget that it is a constitution we are expounding.” That schools are not rights-free zones is illustrated by Justice Fortas’s rejection of the notion that “Students or teachers shed their constitutional rights… at the schoolhouse gate.” That drug testing for extracurricular activity participants is unnecessary is enlivened by Justice Ginsburg’s skepticism over the threat of “out-of-control flatware, livestock run amok, and colliding tubas.”

Second, the practice of law can transcend rote debate and procedural haggling. Attorneys should be artists, not just practitioners. A well-crafted legal word can endear a bleeding heart to the words of Justice Scalia and allow a neo-Fascist to savor the prose of Justice Jackson. A beautifully written brief or opinion reinforces that law is not just a hyper-technical parsing of statutory provisions and common law doctrines but also a creative process that can be fun both to perform and to observe.

Yet the academy seems oblivious. The curriculum tends to provide standard fare — large classes that go heavy on the doctrine, or seminars that talk scholarship and policy. Writing seems easily dismissed as “practical,” lumped with the other redheaded stepchildren of the law school curriculum, such as negotiation and trial advocacy.

Doctrine and policy are important, no doubt, and I am the first to dismiss “practice-oriented” classes (and often those that teach them) as dumbed-down. But the one practical thing that most of the faculty can do — even if they have never litigated a case or even taken the bar — is write. The school embraces efforts to teach its students how to seal contracts and cross-examine witness — skills that cannot be taught in a semester, let alone a career. Wordplay, perhaps most appropriately taught in an academic setting, ought to receive at least as much attention.

Fenno’s allergic reaction to reading about the law may have reflected more than diminished intellectual curiosity, excessive subciting, or bitterness over back-to-back banishments to the back page. Rather, it may signal a Pavlovian association between legal writing and tired prose. Although doing so may cause Kingsfield and Perini to shrivel, perhaps it is time to replace Law and Economics with Law and Literature, and swap Hart & Wechsler for Strunk & White. Legal writing ought to do more than gather dust.

RECORD Editorial: 1Ls should enjoy flyout week


Guess what, kids? We pranksters here at The RECORD are just like everybody else. Most of our editors are leaving rainy Cambridge for other locales next week, and they’ve spent the last several locked in scads of 20-minute talkathons. So the truth is, we don’t really have any pressing campus issues to gripe about. Sure, there probably are some, but our letters pages have been quiet for the past couple of weeks, so how would we know? Has our angst evaporated all of a sudden, or (as is more likely) is everybody simply too burned out to care?

We don’t mean to be cheeky. In fact, for 2Ls and 3Ls, the free week of almost all-expenses-paid vacation that is flyout week is another time not only to be thankful for our comfortable situations in life, but also to do a bit more of that all-consuming soul searching that many of us do all the time, but still never get enough of. Perhaps flyout week can be a time to improve the quality, if not the quantity, of our self-examination.

Flyout week leaves you a lot to think about. There are the obvious questions of location — can you really stand to live among the steel-and-glass towers of New York or Chicago, or the smog-infested suburban sprawl of D.C. or L.A.? — and there are the deeper, and always more difficult questions.

Many 2Ls who entered OCI for the first time this year swore they never would. Now those same people find themselves swearing that this is only for a summer, or that they’ll try to work for a few years to finance that dream job they have planned for later. But after a few weeks of putting on a suit, basking in a firm’s attention and enjoying all the attendant benefits — free meals, free flights and (come summertime) a huge paycheck — that old promise gets harder and harder to keep.

But enough of that. If you’ve made it this far (that is, through 1L year), without losing it, you ought to take this time to pat yourself on the back, thank yourself for a job well done, and remember that all that time you spent studying Civ Pro wasn’t totally for nought. Turns out those 1L grades really did matter, sort of.

As for the 1Ls — the school is yours. Maybe it’ll seem a little lonely around HLS while the 2Ls and 3Ls are gone. The Hark will be a veritable ghost town. The treadmills at Hemenway will actually be available — even during peak hours! Langdell will be a little less full, and the Office of Career Services will await the gathering storm leading up to December 1. One-Ls will actually be able to interact with each other without 2Ls and 3Ls sitting around ordering them to subcite or offering them advice, too.

OCS deserves to breathe its much-needed sigh of relief. As promised, the office has placed nearly 100 percent of those seeking positions. OCS Director Mark Weber’s “sunny platitudes” (as one RECORD writer opined) don’t look quite so much like hyperbole anymore. Indeed, despite a down economy, despite a world of pessimistic predictions, life at Harvard Law School — at least career-wise — still looks pretty good. For all their hard work — and for all their success — the OCS staff deserves students’ thanks.

After this free week of paid vacation wraps up, it’ll be back to the grind of classes (catching up, in many cases), activities and a slightly less glamorous lifestyle. And — we at The RECORD hope — back to writing us some letters.

Have a great flyout week everyone.

Letters: War on terror at HLS long ago


I was partly amused and partly saddened by the first sentence of last week’s article, “War on terror exiles 3L.” The sentence reads as follows: “The sprawling American anti-terrorism campaign finally reached Harvard Law School when 3L Ahmed el-Gaili was prevented from returning to the United States to finish law school.” Actually, the campaign reached the Law School quite a bit earlier.

The “sprawling American anti-terrorism campaign” first reached Harvard Law School last fall, when the Harvard International Office first warned foreign students that if they traveled outside the U.S. they would face substantial delays and uncertainty in obtaining visas through U.S. Consulates abroad and during the reentry process. It continued to reach us when one S.J.D. student from the Middle East (who has been at Harvard for six years) went to a three-day conference in Europe last spring and ended up being unable to return to the U.S. for two months for visa reasons; when another S.J.D. student from the Middle East (who has been at Harvard for seven years) has not risked going home to visit his family out of fear that he would be denied a reentry visa; when two other S.J.D. students from the Middle East have been unable to return to Harvard this fall after going home for the summer because they have not been granted visas more than three months after their original visa interviews; and when three LL.M. students (one of whom attended college in the U.S.) have had to defer the start of their studies for a year for the same reason. Not to mention the fact that numerous staff members in the Graduate Program, the Registrar’s office, the Dean of Students office, and other offices have been working for months to put mechanisms in place to comply with the new Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) mandated by the INS.

International students at Harvard — particularly those who previously have not spent much time in the U.S. — frequently comment on their U.S. colleagues’ myopia towards the rest of the world. The Record’s coverage of world events and attention towards international students has occasionally given me cause for optimism. Last week’s article was not one of those occasions.

— Gail J. Hupper, Assistant Dean for the Graduate Program and
International Legal Studies

1L Expirence: One-Ls wearing suits


The invasion of the suits finally spread to the 1Ls last week, at least to my section. But it wasn’t overeager students flagrantly violating the ban on summer job searching until December 1. No, that will have to wait for next week. It was just for yearbook photos. And for our section’s reception with Dean Clark.

First, the yearbook photos. I’m not sure if that was really a legitimate reason to wear a suit. They suggested we wear “business attire.” But doesn’t that depend on what business you’re in? What if you’re a lifeguard? A clown? An underwear model? I think it’s a bit of a stretch to assume that “business attire” means you have to wear a suit. It’s presumptuous. What if I can’t get any of the jobs that require suits and I’m stuck wearing a paper hat and apron? Then assuming that suit and tie as “business attire” will make me feel awfully silly. But I’ll excuse the people who simply wanted to look spiffy for their yearbook photo. After all, yearbook photos are permanent.

Harder to excuse are the people wearing suits for our section’s reception with Dean Clark. Right before our reception, we had our OCS/OPIA orientation session, which I suppose was an even worse occasion to wear a suit (just barely above “rehearsing for my funeral” as far as reasons to wear a suit are concerned).

The orientation presented us with a number of graphs about career prospects for graduates. The first showed the number of graduates who go to firms compared with the number who do other things, like clerkships, public interest work, joining the space program, getting struck by lightning, and turning into a chimpanzee (the last six of which all appear to have about an equal chance). It looked like a graph comparing the Harvard endowment with the amount of change in various students’ pockets. The bar indicating the percent who went to firms barely fit on the screen. The other bars looked like someone had squashed them. The only way it could have looked more uneven is if they’d used a logarithmic scale. The second graph showed the percent of graduates who get jobs as compared with the national average. Guess what that looked like.

Anyway, after the exciting career orientation, it was off to the Clark reception, with the people in suits. This was unnecessary for a few reasons. First, they said there’d be food. My policy is, anywhere where there’s food is a dangerous place to wear my one suit (actually it’s not even really a suit — I have a jacket and a pair of pants that come oh-so-close to matching. Barely visible to the naked eye. Almost can’t tell one piece is navy blue and the other is black. Almost. Goes great with my olive green only-pair-of-dress-socks and my brown shoes). So easy to get it dirty, and then what? Plus, what could the consequences possibly be of not wearing a suit? Would Clark kick us out of school? Erase our entries from the log we had to sign to get our ID cards? Ensure we get a “low pass” in FYL?

And, frankly, the reception wasn’t really worth a suit. Maybe a polo shirt and a pair of khakis, but definitely not a suit. I’ll admit, the food was a much-appreciated step up from the goldfish and assorted crackers at the All-Law School Party (does Harvard own stock in Pepperidge Farm?). There were miniature spinach pies, fried wontons, little triangles of toast, assorted fruit and other finger foods that, in large enough quantities, made for a filling and nutritious dinner, especially if you brought a Ziploc bag and loaded up on the chicken on a stick. There were also some assorted flavors of what more sophisticated members of my section told me was paté. It looked kind of like slabs of clay to me, so I’m not totally sure. Tasted like clay too. (And three slices was just about enough to sculpt a lovely model of Langdell, complete with columns. Too bad they cleared away my plate before I could save it.)

The highlight of the reception was when Clark told us of the accomplishments of people in our section: “…a Fulbright scholar, a Truman scholar, two people with an allergy to peanuts, one student who still wets the bed, three hypochondriacs, one convicted felon, four transvestites and a former stunt double for Barney the dinosaur.” Now there’s one person whose “business attire” most certainly wasn’t a three-piece suit.

Congressmen to CEOs: HLS’ LL.M class


Lewis International Center.
LL.M. Candidates board in Lewis Center.

You could learn a lot from an LL.M.

Though every year’s J.D. class features its own cast of superstars, students often forget that the students enrolled in the Master of Laws (or LL.M., as it is commonly known) program bring to the table an even more diverse set of accomplishments. Because LL.M. students already have law degrees, usually from foreign countries, their experiences are as varied as the globe is broad, with many coming from the upper echelons of their respective government, business and legal communities.

This year’s class of 142 students hails from 58 countries, with backgrounds ranging from professors, judges, politicians and national Supreme Court clerks to CEOs and a former police corporal. The most represented country is Japan, with 10 students, while most other countries have between one and three student representatives. Below, The RECORD profiles a few of the many students that make up this year’s LL.M. class.

Ivo Keltner, from the Czech Republic, spent two years as the youngest lawyer at the Czech Securities Commission, where he began working while a law student. He then joined the restructuring team of a major Czech bank, where he was in charge of untangling one of the largest bankruptcies in Czech history. Keltner currently sits on the board of directors of seven corporations, including the biggest Czech foreign investment corporation to date. He also spent a year in the army and still holds the rank of First Lieutenant in the Czech Republic’s Reserve Army.

Keltner says he came to HLS because, “if you want to do anything all around the world you have to have at least some knowledge of US legislation and standards.” So far he is enjoying the Harvard Law School experience, which differs from the Czech Republic, where “professors don’t use the Socratic method, and our exams are 99 percent oral — I can barely remember a written exam.”

Nadia Hadjdova, of Bulgaria, finished a Masters of Law at Oxford after winning a full scholarship. She then joined the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. Never having worked in English before, Hadjdova is proud that she learned to cope in an entirely new environment and had the opportunity to work on many complex international matters, including the restructuring of a colossal Russian corporation that “produced everything from trucks to tanks.”

At HLS, Hadjdova has been most surprised at the instructions given to women in preparation for recruiting. “In Bulgaria, it is not appropriate for women to be dressed like men. Women wear colorful clothes, trouser suits, scarves, jewelry and silk. The concept of a business suit is foreign to me. But here, you have to wear all black or blue. It seems you have to project the image of a spinster.”

Pieter Leenknegt, from Belgium, already has four degrees under his belt, and says he came to HLS “purely for fun.” Leenknegt already has an LL.M. from the prestigious College of Europe and an art history degree with a thesis on equestrian statues of Franco. Leenknegt has also been an “external collaborator” for the International Labor Organization, a representative of Belgium at the World Trade Organization and in charge of appeals at the German Forced Labour Compensation Program in Switzerland.

“I had to more or less determine the criteria under which we’d grant an appeal,” Leenknegt said. He said he was disturbed that, “farmers found it apparently quite acceptable to have laborers from Eastern Europe working for them without compensation and sometimes in sordid conditions.”

At HLS, Leenknegt says he has become more aware of differences between Europeans and Americans. “Americans should amend the Constitution, which has built-in immobilities from the eighteenth century, but that’s taboo. It’s perverted that the government has to rephrase the right to environment or traffic safety in terms of commerce.”

Shervin Majlessi, from Iran, comes to HLS from Canada’s McGill University, where he was writing a doctoral thesis on private and public participation in the World Trade Organization. He finds it impossible to compare HLS and his law school in Iran.

“At the time I left, law school was the most conservative of all the schools except for the divinity school. The way you dressed was regulated, you were reprimanded for wearing blue jeans, and you couldn’t wear a tie because it was a Western symbol.” Yet he said the school was intellectually challenging: “I watched people change within four years. They’d come as a fanatic with fixed ideas and come out a totally different person after sitting though a constitutional law course with a very good professor.”

Majlessi feels a pull towards public policy and politics, but still holds back. “I grew up with fear — lead your life, keep quiet, try to survive — because any way of life that differentiates is a no-no, you’ll get yourself killed. I’ve seen many unfortunate examples of people who lost their lives or spent years in jail without being that important.”

Lucia La Rosa-Ames, from Italy, says she met her first Protestant when she joined the U.S. Trial Service Office as a Foreign Criminal Jurisdiction Specialist. “I really loved that job,” she said. “There are 15,000 American military people in the south of Italy, and the implementation of the Status of Forces Agreement raises a lot of legal issues. My main duty was to defend the interests of the U.S. when a member of the foreign forces was involved in a crime and Italy wanted jurisdiction.”

La Rosa-Ames was also impressed with the integrity of the U.S. Navy: “As a woman in a position of leadership, you are always on the defensive because you have to overcome discrimination, but there I really felt that it didn’t matter that you were a woman or man.” La Rosa-Ames came to HLS because, “in order to go forward with your career, you have to keep coming back to study. I need to know better the American system and way of reasoning, because the way in which you face legal problems is different.” La Rosa-Ames says her dream is to work in public service within the U.S.

Birgir Ragnarsson, of Iceland, found himself bored during his final two years of a five-year law degree. After graduation, he was catapulted to political prestige as legal adviser to the Minister of Industry and Commerce, then to senior attorney at the Icelandic equivalent of the SEC. Ragnarsson was then asked by the Minister of Commerce to draft a legislative bill on electronic signatures, and Ragnarsson’s bill became Icelandic law in 2001.

Since then, Ragnarsson has started a company that issues digital ID cards: “It was founded in the upswing of high tech, and we had very high expectations of growth. It’s different now, but we’re doing well because people always need security, and all the banks are our customers. We eventually want to move into the government sector.”

Asked why he came to HLS, Ragnarrson jokes, “Vanity — the reputation of schools in the States is that they’re the best schools in the world — and the name Harvard.” His role as managing director of a growing company did not stop him from coming: “You always get so involved in what you’re doing, you will never get more time. You just have to do it.”

Senator Boxer defends vote on Iraq resolution


On Monday afternoon, Senator Barbara Boxer (D-California), spoke to a crowd of about 200 Harvard Law students on issues ranging from terrorism to the Green Party to the fight between Republicans and Democrats over confirmation of President Bush’s judicial nominees. The speech was the HLS Democrats’ first major event of the year.

Much of Boxer’s time was spent discussing the recent resolution authorizing the President to use force in Iraq if the nation refuses to comply with U.N. weapons inspections. Boxer was among the minority voting against the resolution, which passed 77-23.

“To me, it wasn’t a hard call, because I had 25 to 30 completely unanswered questions,” Boxer said. “I believe war is a last resort.”

In defense of colleagues who voted for the resolution, Boxer said that Democrats forced the President to go through several channels before they voted to approve, and that the final resolution was drawn narrowly.

“The Democrats said, ‘Go to the U.N.’ and [Bush] went to the U.N.” she said. “I also again believe that he wasn’t going to come to the Senate or the House. He was going to bypass us and say, ‘I don’t need to come here — they gave me this power through the [Persian Gulf War] resolutions back in ‘91’”

Boxer charged the Bush administration with having nefarious motives for seeking the resolution. “The whole thing was brought up because of politics,” she said. “It was all part of the grand plan by the Bush administration to get the Senate.”

Democrats, Boxer said, have a lot of work to do to get their constituencies excited about the November 5 election.

“I think it’s just a matter of us having to take it to the people. We have to make the connection between the quality of their lives and who is in office,” Boxer said.

She warned Green Party voters to, “think of the ramifications and don’t delude yourself,” this time around, stating that the Green Party cost Democrats the White House in 2000 and risked handing the entire Congress over to Republicans as well.

Boxer also defended Senate Democrats against the claim that they have obstructed the approval of the President’s judicial nominees, arguing that the reasons individuals were refused had nothing to do with the President.

“I think the Senate would be happy to put people on the bench who reflect mainstream America,” Boxer said. “We have put many people on the bench, but we refuse to put people on the bench who are from the far end of the spectrum. We never did it under Clinton, and we’re not going to do it under Bush.”

Melinda McLellan, a 1L, said she was impressed by Boxer’s candor. “I was pleased to hear from a leading Democrat who had the courage to vote ‘no’ on the Iraq resolution and who seems genuinely committed to correcting perceived problems in the Democratic Party,” she said.

Boxer was elected to the Senate in 1993. She chairs several committees, including the Environment and Public Works Committee.

HLS to open new pro bono office


Lisa Dealy, who previously oversaw the LIPP program, has been appointed to head the new office.

A Harvard Law School education has always demanded a hefty amount of academic face time in the form of required first-year courses and various other graduation mandates. These traditional obligations, in place for generations, guarantee that students will spend long hours thinking about law in the abstract — in the classroom, textbooks and cases, and on exams.

This year, however, a new requirement is in place designed to ensure that students will make a service-oriented connection between the law studied in the classroom and the law practiced in the real world. The Law School’s new mandatory Pro Bono Service Program, headed by former LIPP and Summer Public Interest Funding Director Lisa Dealy, will require students to undertake 40 hours of uncompensated public interest work as a prerequisite for graduation. Though it does not apply to current 2Ls and 3Ls, the pro bono requirement does apply to the class of 2005 and generations of HLS students to come.

An Idea is Born

“The notion for a mandatory pro bono requirement was born during discussions within the faculty-student Connections to Practice Committee, a component of the larger strategic planning process begun by HLS several years ago in efforts to reflect on and improve the Law School as an institution,” said Professor Andrew Kaufman. The process resulted in substantial changes in the 1L academic experience beginning with the class of 2004, and also serves as the basis for current Law School fund-raising efforts.

The Connections to Practice Committee saw the planning process as an opportunity for the Law School to instill in its students a sense of professional values, including the value of pro bono service. “The requirement is intended to introduce students into a habit of thinking of part of their time being pro bono time, which is a habit we think they should continue for their lives,” explained Dean of the J.D. Program Todd Rakoff, who served on the Steering Committee for the Strategic Planning Process.

The Committee developed the proposal for over a year before submitting it for a vote to the entire faculty. Rakoff said there was some initial opposition to the requirement within the Strategic Planning Committee as well as among the faculty as a whole. “The strongest argument against the proposal was that the Law School shouldn’t force people to do good,” he explained. “Those who were opposed were in favor of having the School do things to increase the number of voluntary pro bono opportunities, but didn’t want it to be mandatory.”

On the other hand, those in favor of the program felt that a mandatory requirement was legitimate because of its educational value as well as the broader message it conveyed to students as to the importance of contributing to the public good. Ultimately, when the vote was taken, the proposal passed comfortably, with “only a half dozen negative votes,” Kaufman said.

A National Trend

In adopting the mandatory pro bono requirement, the Law School joins the ranks of fifteen law schools nationwide requiring pro bono service of graduates, including the University of Pennsylvania and Columbia Law Schools, which have had successful and well-respected pro bono programs in place since the late 1980s and early 1990s, respectively.

There is also evidence that the Law School’s adoption of the requirement will serve as an impetus for other schools. The University of Denver passed a mandatory pro bono requirement citing the HLS proposal as a model. Stanford Law School also recently passed a similar requirement and is in the planning stages of implementation.

The Search for a Director

The passage of the pro bono requirement left the Administration searching for the perfect candidate to administer the program. The Hiring Committee, which included Rakoff, Kaufman, several faculty members and Director of the Office of Public Interest Advising Alexa Shabecoff, interviewed well over a hundred applicants for the job. Applicants came from both the public and private sectors, encompassing a wide range of impressive professional and academic backgrounds.

However, the committee unanimously thought Dealy, Director of LIPP and Summer Public Interest Funding, was the person most suited to the task of implementing the new program. “We were lucky she was interested in running the program. She has the experience and the commitment to the program that is needed, and she knows how to get along with all the people who will be involved, including students, practicing lawyers and their organizations, faculty and administration,” Kaufman noted.

Shabecoff said the Pro Bono Program is “in great hands. Lisa already has a demonstrated track record in her former positions as running administrative programs in an innovative and student-friendly way.”

Since taking the helm in June, Dealy has focused on getting the office up and running by February, when it will begin servicing 1Ls. She says she has spent a good deal of time “researching opportunities for students, networking and talking to those in my position at other schools.” In addition, she has hired a full-time staff assistant and is poised to move into the program’s new office space in Gannett House, which became available when the Legal Aid Bureau relocated to Baker House this fall.

Fulfilling the Requirement

As Director, Dealy will facilitate the administration of the program, a primary component of which will be advising students how to fulfill their pro bono requirement in a way most satisfying to them. This can be achieved in a number of different ways, provided the work students do fits a broad definition of pro bono work and is considered legal rather than clerical or purely academic.

For example, those who enroll in a clinical program, participate in a student practice organization such as the Tenant Advocacy Project or Harvard Defenders, become involved in a student service organization like the Battered Women’s Advocacy Project, or spend a summer working at a public interest organization will likely fulfill the requirement.

In addition, a primary focus of the Pro Bono Service Program will be to offer placements with Boston-area organizations. These placement could be specifically tailored to meet the pro bono requirement for students who do not naturally satisfy the requirement through participation in other activities. Dealy said she is focusing on finding pro bono opportunities for students of all ideologies and dispositions, including those more inclined to pursue private sector work upon graduation. Such placements may be as diverse as working at a government agency, performing pro bono service at a law firm (as long as it is uncompensated), or interning in the general counsel office of a hospital or school.

The decision to allow clinical programs to count toward the requirement was based on the logical overlap of a pedagogical, service-oriented experience with the requirement, as well as a desire not to hurt enrollment in clinical programs, Dealy said. The reasoning behind including summer public interest experiences in the definition of the requirement was that students are grossly “undercompensated” for summer work, particularly compared to lucrative law firm salaries, many times earning just enough from summer public interest funding to cover living expenses.

Though not required, faculty members are encouraged to perform a similar amount of pro bono activity to that required of students in their fields of expertise.

To Dealy, the broad range of experiences that count towards the requirement is geared so that students can gain exposure to the wide range of ways in which pro bono service can be performed. “My hope is that students will really start thinking about what kind of work appeals to them early on, and will have the flexibility to tail
or their fulfillment of the pro bono requirement to suit their individual interests,” she said.

Between one-half and two-thirds of HLS students may already be meeting the pro bono requirement through their participation in student practice organizations, clinical programs or summer work, according to the proposal submitted to the faculty by the Connections to Practice Committee.

It is also estimated that many students will vastly exceed the number of required pro bono hours. “Students’ transcripts will have a statement that they have fulfilled their mandatory pro bono hours, but will also have a space indicating the number of voluntary pro bono hours completed above and beyond the minimum,” said Dealy. Her hope is to design some sort of recognition dinner or award ceremony for students who exceed the number of required hours by a certain (still to be determined) amount.

Working Closely with OPIA

Both Dealy and Shabecoff anticipate their offices will work closely with one another to complement each other’s services. “We already have a great deal of resources — books, databases and institutional knowledge — that can help students find good placements that fit their interests,” explained Shabecoff. “I am sure we will send people back and forth constantly.”

Unfortunately, since the two offices will be located on opposite ends of campus, this may be rather inconvenient for students seeking to benefit from both offices. “It will awkward to be so far away from OPIA [when we move to Gannett House],” said Dealy.

Dealy sees the two offices as sharing a common, yet complementary mission. “I see OPIA as more of a national expert on public service opportunities, whereas the Pro Bono Service Program will provide more local expertise,” she said. “I also see the Pro Bono office as adding a connection between Harvard and the local community.”

True to the office’s local focus, the Pro Bono Service Program will take over a small voluntary pro bono program called Providing Unpaid Legal Services (PULSE), formerly administered by OPIA. Through PULSE, students could find volunteer placements with a number of Boston area nonprofits willing to host a law student intern. Shabecoff noted that because of OPIA’s many other services to students, keeping track of PULSE placements and feedback often got lost in the shuffle. OPIA has turned over PULSE placements to Dealy, who will use them as a core from which to build other placements.

1L Reactions

Some 1Ls expressed enthusiasm about their new requirement. “I think it will be a fantastic boost to the HLS community,” said 1L Jesse Tampio. “It could provide a great opportunity for some people to experience the kinds of legal work where the compensation comes from something often more rewarding than money.” One-L Mike Bloch agreed. “Hopefully the requirement will have the added bonus of turning more students on to the idea of pursuing a career in public interest after graduation.”

Ultimately, Dealy sees the new program as something students will learn to live with, if not love. “To me, this is a very valuable component of the law school curriculum,” she said. “Not everyone will love it, just like not everyone will love contracts or property, but providing pro bono service is an important responsibility of being a lawyer.”

Gay, lesbian students cast wary eye on OCI


After years in academia, where administrators freely brandish their statistics on diversity of sexual orientation, gay and lesbian students at Harvard Law School face a recruiting process with a shabbier pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Though no firm explicitly gives students the ghastly choice of the U.S. military’s ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ — keep your sexuality to yourself or be fired — not all make clear the atmosphere and policies that gay and lesbian lawyers will find at a firm.

Among large firms on the coasts, most firms express some level of gay-friendliness, if only through a non-discrimination clause.

The more hospitable firms publish the number of gay associates and partners at their firm. According to OCS Director Mark Weber, fewer than 20 percent of firms report their percentage of “openly gay” lawyers to NALP, compared to nearly 100 percent reporting of other minorities.

According to Weber, “those firms who do not report are not necessarily unwelcoming” and, thus, students must pursue other avenues to determine how welcoming a firm is. Students often consult the firm’s record of clients and pro bono work, their diversity statistics for other minorities and women, as well as medical, life insurance and family leave policies for same-sex partnerships. At HLS, a gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender network is available, as are resources from the OCS website. This all helps a great deal when few firms are as candid as San Francisco-based Morrison & Foerster, which publicly professes a commitment to hire and promote gays and lesbians to “important management positions.”

Some firms offer to pair students with gay and lesbian recruiters if so requested in order to ask specific questions. Dan Lefler, recruiting partner at Los Angeles-based Irell & Manella, considers these interviews part of the process of finding the lawyers who would make the best fit at the firm.

In light of this available information, most gay and lesbian students find that expressing sexual orientation does not disadvantage their prospects in “big liberal markets,” as 3L Geoff Upton described them. “If anything,” Upton continued, “being gay can present an advantage in hiring at such firms.”

Some studies support the contention that, at least when submitting resumés, indicating a sexual orientation does not have an overall disadvantaging effect in receiving interviews.

But the openness and broad acceptance found at some large firms may serve to mask problems that gay and lesbian 2Ls and 3Ls face during the recruiting season.

Those firms that do not publish the number of gay and lesbian lawyers and have no particularly welcoming policies — such as same-sex benefits — leave gay students to take a gamble. Many simply take the firm’s silence to be an unwelcoming sign, and there is at least some good reason for that. When 3L Lindsay Harrison inquired about gay partners at D.C.-based Williams & Connolly, she says she was bluntly told, “I don’t know any partners who are out. We are kind of an old-school firm and that’s not going to change anytime soon.” She said the firm ultimately apologized.

In the end, Irell & Maella’s Lefler pointed out, firms end up hiring “many more gays than indicate that on the resume or in interviews,” touching on the phenomenon of unmentioned sexual orientation.

To many gay and lesbian students who do not submit or inquire about sexual orientation, they consider it a private, irrelevant, matter. “Does it really matter?” one 2L, who is gay, said anonymously.

Yet for many, questions such as about whether or not sexual orientation will affect success at the firm, or whether they will be discriminated against, continue to crop up. Weber suggested that this is because “there is more social pressure to keep sexual orientation secret than religion .” Some gay and lesbian students, he pointed out, do not even tell their parents for fear of a negative reaction. How, then, can they tell someone they have just met?

OCS does not recommend a specific course of action for gay and lesbian students considering whether to include their sexual orientation on their resumes or in interviews. Rather, they suggest that students consider how fundamental that particular factor to their identity and to consider generally, as Weber puts it, “what story you want the resume to tell.”