[Here is a copy of our “About” page as it appeared on our blog that was blacklisted by Harvard Law School last week, here.]
About Harvard Law Unbound
Disclaimer: Harvard Law Unbound is not a recognized student organization. This project is authorized by neither the officers nor a majority of the members of Unbound — Harvard Journal of the Legal Left.
Harvard Law Unbound is a campaign initiated by Harvard Law students. Once we made it into Harvard Law, we thought the hard part was over. In a packed Memorial Hall, Dean Martha Minow recited the remarkable and diverse achievements of our peers. The future, we were told, would be even brighter.
Fast forward just a few months and the mood is hardly optimistic. Overwhelmingly, students say that they “have to” work at a corporate law firm. That they are afraid of unemployment. That they will never pay off their loans. That the legal market, that their parents, that that that . . . .
If Dean Minow spoke with hopeful assurance at orientation, the Office of Career Services quickly retorted with fear. As early as November, every 1L began to receive two kinds of emails from OCS: alarmist ones (“In the professional jungle, you won’t be helping your career very much by putting your head in the sand and avoiding these events.” November 3, 2011) and normative, culture-shifting ones (“You’ve decided that you’re going to participate in EIP [Early Interview Program] . . . Now what?” March 19).
No wonder it didn’t feel like much of a decision. In just a few months, the change in messaging was loud and clear. Our impressions of a legal career were naïve. Our time of passionate and inspiring work has passed. Harvard Law students join big firms. And they join them promptly.
A group of us began meeting regularly to discuss this silent transformation — silent because students refuse to ask their peers why they’ve changed their minds so quickly. Recognizing that we suffer as a community from such self-censorship, and heartened by more senior students, we decided to start a broader dialogue.
Part of that dialog involves our Firmly Refuse campaign, which uses posters placed on bulletin boards throughout the Law School campus to spur students to think hard about whether to participate in the early interview program with firms. To spur students to think hard about what it is, exactly, that firms do. To spur students to think hard about their rationales for wanting to pursue employment with a firm right out of law school. For a full explication of that campaign, read our statement published in The Record, here.
Growing out of the Firmly Refuse campaign, another, smaller group of us began meeting regularly to explore questions about whether and to what degree the current situation implicates broader concerns about corruption and conflict of interest at the Law School — about our concern that those in charge of the Law School, past and present, may have compromised the independence and integrity of the institution in their short-term quest to raise funds for buildings, or to avoid negative publicity about problems at the school.
To explore this aspect of the current situation, since it was first launched on April 9 when the Firmly Refuse postering campaign began, this blog has called special attention to the law firms featured in the postering campaign which have made large donations to the Law School — raising the question whether those large donations might account, at least in part, for the encouragement currently being given by Law School administrators to students to interview with these and other firms.
By making large donations to the Law School, do these and other firms in effect enlist the Law School administrators as recruiters, to help the law firm partners divert the students away from public interest careers and to the law firms, where their work makes the partners handsome profits, part of which is then kicked back to the Law School?
This question and others like it, concerning potential corruption and conflicts of interest at the Law School, are worth asking. Thank you for your attention to these issues.