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.

Continue reading “Harvard Law School’s Glass Ceilings”

Is law (still) an honorable profession?

Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, was a lawyer. Each year, when the Torah portion pertaining to Jethro is read at Central Synagogue in midtown Manhattan, a person is asked to give a talk relating to the law at a dinner following Friday night services. On 13 February 2009, New York University School of Law professor of ethics Stephen Gillers gave the Jethro talk. With minor changes, it is reprinted below:

When Ron Tabak e-mailed me about giving the Jethro talk this year, I was in Cambodia speaking about the American legal system to graduate law students at the Royal University of Law and Economics. That experience offered one further example of the intense interest globally in the rule of law in the United States. To my mind, the rule of law is America’s best export. If, in other nations, we can instill our respect for the rule of law, an independent bar and an independent judiciary, we will go a long way toward the creation of democratic institutions worldwide.

But our achievements in establishing a nation based on the rule of law should not be allowed to obscure problems with the work of lawyers here at home. When Ron and I agreed on the title of the talk, I was not yet clear on what I would say about honour and the legal profession although I had some vague ideas. Events this autumn, however, have clarified what needs to be said. When talking of honour, one could hardly begin in a better place than the events surrounding the fall of Bernard Madoff. I will then move to the question posed in my title and conclude with references to the Bible.

What I find most remarkable about the Bernard Madoff story so far is that his sons turned him in. Bernard Madoff confessed to his sons and on the advice of counsel, they turned him in.1 And the whole business came crashing down. Continue reading “Is law (still) an honorable profession?”

A Q&A with William T. Oree, law clerk and incarcerated person at Attica Correctional Facility

Harvard Law School’s mission statement is “to educate leaders who contribute to the advancement of justice and the well-being of society.” We cannot advance justice and societal well-being without knowing the reality of what is going outside of our campus and case books. In an effort to bring one of these outside voices to campus, I asked William T. Oree, an incarcerated person and law clerk at Attica Correctional Facility to share his thoughts with the Harvard Law community.

Oree is serving twelve years to life at Attica. He is the founder, writer, and editor of The Prisoner’s Lampoon, a self-published prison comedy magazine; his work has also been published in The Harvard Lampoon. He and his comedy writing partner are shopping a pilot script called PEN * PALS to production companies in Los Angeles. He is the inventor of “jailhouse comedy,” a blend of edgy, often raw humor with a little Shakespeare thrown in for good measure.

Pete Davis, Harvard Law Record (PD): What inspired you to write to Harvard Law School students about indigent defendants and ineffective assistance of counsel?

William T. Oree (WTO): In a nutshell, I have to say mass incarceration. More specifically, the desire to repair our nation’s broken justice system motivated me to make lawyers aware that their normative practices were actually contributing to the fact that the United States locks up more of its citizens than either China or Russia.

Sadly, many of the incarcerated have received sub-par legal services because of defense attorneys who allow considerations of judicial economy to drive their professional and moral obligation instead of the other way around. Unlike medical practitioners, there is no Hippocratic Oath that holds lawyers to a “first do not harm” standard. Moreover, many state and federal courts agree that the standard of effective assistance of counsel should be evaluated in a normative fashion. That is, that courts accept the minimum standards and practices as recommended by the American Bar Association with the understanding that what is minimal is fair and rational. Unfortunately, in all too many cases, the law is neither fair nor rational. It’s hard to avoid seeing this in any other way than as a mechanism by which the courts protect attorneys from malpractice, prioritizing the professional well-being of licensed attorneys over the constitutionally mandated defense of our nation’s citizens. Continue reading “A Q&A with William T. Oree, law clerk and incarcerated person at Attica Correctional Facility”

Open Letter From Alumni to Dean Manning: Respond to Our Bicentennial Crisis

On April 23, 2018, seven prominent alumni sent an open letter to Dean Manning requesting a public response to and public hearing on Our Bicentennial Crisis, the Record report on Harvard Law’s public interest mission. The letter is copied below:

Dear Dean Manning,

Last October, during the two hundredth anniversary of Harvard Law School, Pete Davis (3L) and his colleagues issued a report titled, Our Bicentennial Crisis: A Call to Action for Harvard Law School’s Public Interest Mission. Its contents were of considerable interest to more than a few students, faculty, and deans from other law schools. As you know, on February 7, 2018, four faculty members met with a sizable number of students for an evening discussion. In addition, The Harvard Law Record has devoted considerable space to the report and the reactions to its recommendations and analyses. Continue reading “Open Letter From Alumni to Dean Manning: Respond to Our Bicentennial Crisis”

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

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

Continue reading “Poll Results: Do Harvard Law 3Ls Want Jeff Flake to Speak?”

Voting #UnionYes Because #TimesUp

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

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

Continue reading “Voting #UnionYes Because #TimesUp”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For HLS Student Workers, #UNIONYES is the Right Choice

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

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

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

Continue reading “For HLS Student Workers, #UNIONYES is the Right Choice”

At The Harvard Law Forum: Rep. Keith Ellison

Congressman Keith Ellison represents Minnesota’s 5th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives and is the Deputy Chair of the Democratic National Committee. He was the first Muslim elected to the House of Representatives.

On April 2, 2018, he came to Harvard Law School to share his thoughts and experience on what the path forward for the Democratic Party is in the Trump era.

The video is below:

At The Harvard Law Forum: Chuck Marohn on What Lawyers Can Do to Build Strong Towns

Charles “Chuck” Marohn is the Founder and President of Strong Towns, a leading non-profit advocating for models of city planning and development that allow for financially strong and resilient cities, towns and neighborhoods. Marohn is a Professional Engineer licensed in Minnesota, a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners, and the lead author of Thoughts on Building Strong Towns (Volumes 1, 2, and 3) and A World Class Transportation System. In 2017, he was named one of the 10 Most Influential Urbanists of all time by Planetizen.

On March 29, 2018, he came to Harvard Law School to share what lawyers and law students can do to help advance sustainable and resilient models of urban development.

The video is below: