Harvard 1L will take some questions about Harvard.

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mallard
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Re: Harvard 1L will take some questions about Harvard.

Postby mallard » Wed Dec 23, 2009 4:01 pm

Hey bahama, thanks for the info. I hope I didn't come across as trying to pass myself off as knowledgeable on the topic; I'm just trying to respond to the questions posed as best I can!

zabagabe, it's probably - no, certainly - true that the things you're mentioning have had an effect. Certainly The Paper Chase is no longer really an accurate representation of how Harvard Law works. Certainly pro bono and public interest work is supported to a much much greater degree than it was when Kennedy wrote that article. Certainly Socratic is not nearly as painful as it used to be. Certainly law review is mostly write-on now, grades are "softer," exams are on laptops, etc. But the article still contains a nugget of truth.

Just to present a disclaimer one last time: all I'm able to really represent here is what my experience as a first-semester 1L has been. My particular insecurities and proclivities definitely play a huge role in how I feel about law school. It's probably true that most of my classmates have not felt the sort of pressures I have this past semester, for a variety of reasons, some quite personal. So take this all with a grain of salt and compare it with the very awesome threads created by other Harvard students like PinkTiki.

02082010
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Re: Harvard 1L will take some questions about Harvard.

Postby 02082010 » Wed Dec 23, 2009 4:13 pm

Do you think Harvard is better than Yale?

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mallard
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Re: Harvard 1L will take some questions about Harvard.

Postby mallard » Wed Dec 23, 2009 4:14 pm

hopefulundergrad wrote:Do you think Harvard is better than Yale?


The university? Yeah, probably. The law school, no. But there are conceivable reasons to prefer it.

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zabagabe
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Re: Harvard 1L will take some questions about Harvard.

Postby zabagabe » Wed Dec 23, 2009 4:25 pm

mallard wrote:Hey bahama, thanks for the info. I hope I didn't come across as trying to pass myself off as knowledgeable on the topic; I'm just trying to respond to the questions posed as best I can!

zabagabe, it's probably - no, certainly - true that the things you're mentioning have had an effect. Certainly The Paper Chase is no longer really an accurate representation of how Harvard Law works. Certainly pro bono and public interest work is supported to a much much greater degree than it was when Kennedy wrote that article. Certainly Socratic is not nearly as painful as it used to be. Certainly law review is mostly write-on now, grades are "softer," exams are on laptops, etc. But the article still contains a nugget of truth.

Just to present a disclaimer one last time: all I'm able to really represent here is what my experience as a first-semester 1L has been. My particular insecurities and proclivities definitely play a huge role in how I feel about law school. It's probably true that most of my classmates have not felt the sort of pressures I have this past semester, for a variety of reasons, some quite personal. So take this all with a grain of salt and compare it with the very awesome threads created by other Harvard students like PinkTiki.


From talking to friends at a lot of different law schools, what you're saying actually sounds fairly common, but I think a lot of people just express it as "law school is HAAAAARD" rather than "law school creates and constitutes hierarchical relationships through intimidation and rule-philia that seek to concretize particular modes of thinking and behaving amongst it students." ;) I think what you've described as part of your experience is definitely one of my biggest concerns about going to law school generally.

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BlueCivic
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Re: Harvard 1L will take some questions about Harvard.

Postby BlueCivic » Wed Dec 23, 2009 4:49 pm

Hi mallard and other people like me who spend their free time on a law school internet forum!

I'm an admitted student at HLS. And I just really don't understand how need based financial aid works at all. I'm totally at a loss. Could someone explain the basics to me?

It seems that everyone is even financially going into law school. Everyone can get loans to pay for it and everyone has the same chance for financial opportunity coming out of law school. So what do they assess in determining need based financial aid??? It seems like a basic part of the process that I don't understand. Like, do some people pay for law school out of pocket?

I'll be 3 years out of undergrad. I make about 30k-ish at my government job. Does this mean I will get need based money? How do they factor in parental money? I'm not getting any help from my parents but does it matter? This is confusing. Maybe law school will be too hard?

Ha anyway. Thanks for all the good advice on HLS. I'm excited (i think)

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mallard
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Re: Harvard 1L will take some questions about Harvard.

Postby mallard » Wed Dec 23, 2009 5:06 pm

Haha. I can't say I haven't succumbed to the "law school is HARD" whining at times, but it's really not the concepts that make law school hard, it's the atmosphere and the competition - I expect that's really what makes lawyering a challenge, too, of course, trying to stay a step ahead of the judge and opposing counsel, etc. I also don't want to give the impression that the habits of thought or conduct you learn in law school are bad, either, or that I haven't grown as a person while I've been here (since I think I've found a pretty solid place within the hierarchy, I've actually become a lot more confident - we'll see if that lasts past grades, of course). I just hope people reading this thread go into law school with a bit of perspective and critical distance, or at least knowing what they're going to be up against; I didn't think hard enough about it beforehand or maybe I wasn't entirely secure enough to react in a completely healthy way.

BlueCivic, I don't know that much about financial aid. But there are certainly some people who will be coming in with debt from undergrad. There will be some people coming in with millions and millions in the bank (at least of their parents' money). There will be some people coming back to school after a few years at McKinsey and there will be some people coming back after a few years in Iraq. So there is going to be considerable financial diversity coming in. I got need-based aid because I didn't really have any money. Other people didn't get need-based aid because they had money. It's not always fair and it certainly creates "perverse incentives" (this is a great law school concept, by the way) to blow all your cash before financial aid sees it.

You'll probably get need-based money although assets are considered along with income. My grant was much more than I expected, and I certainly know a few other people who were surprised by theirs as well.

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dutchstriker
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Re: Harvard 1L will take some questions about Harvard.

Postby dutchstriker » Wed Dec 23, 2009 5:40 pm

Is there also an incentive for my parents to, say, buy a car now (rather than waiting) so that in my financial aid application they have less money in the bank? Or is there no benefit to that because the car would be considered part of their assets?

Or am I demonstrating a complete lack of understanding of the financial aid process? FWIW, my parents do not plan on contributing anything to my law school education, but I'm not sure schools actually care.

Sky'stheLimit
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Re: Harvard 1L will take some questions about Harvard.

Postby Sky'stheLimit » Fri Dec 25, 2009 8:51 am

zabagabe wrote:I'm not out to make Yale look good...I think every school is facing significant cutbacks to their budgets. I've just been surprised that somehow every other top law school (apart from maybe Berkeley) has been better able to shield these from the public, whereas there seems to be a lot of coverage about Harvard, so I wasn't sure if this was just b/c it was Harvard, or if there was something more there...there seems to be almost a schadenfreude sensibility in the media in regards to Harvard's financial situation, b/c many schools are struggling just as much but not one seems to mention them.

How has Wasserstein's death affected things? I haven't heard anything about that.


Good article on this called Rich Harvard, Poor Harvard in Vanity Fair last June. It seems like president/dean lawrence summers was largely to blame, any thoughts on that Mal?

Also, I heard Columbia was rocked pretty hard too, but I guess nothing like Harvard though.

bahama
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Re: Harvard 1L will take some questions about Harvard.

Postby bahama » Fri Dec 25, 2009 4:14 pm

There is a link to that article in my post earlier on this page. I don't agree with everything in it but it provides a good overview of the history and some of the internal politics.

Hating on Larry Summers and co is fashionable in some circles, so again you want to look at a lot of the things said in the article in light of some of the internal politics there.

If I were going to blame anyone I would blame the people who made an issue out of the way the endowment was run (mostly alums and some faculty) and the politicians who stirred things up about how the endowments weren't spending enough. Anytime financial decisions start getting heavily politicized (see Fannie Mae) bad things happen.

Pretty much every major endowment (and a lot of hedge funds and Ibanks) were following the same investment strategy as Harvard so there is a lot of 20/20 hindsight and Monday morning quarterbacking going on. Most peer schools had similar % losses as Harvard and similar impacts. The only reason this is news is because it is Harvard.

Would love to hear from current students if they are seeing much of an impact beyond the summer funding, skating rink, and coffee and what the feelings among students about all this are.

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mallard
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Re: Harvard 1L will take some questions about Harvard.

Postby mallard » Fri Dec 25, 2009 9:48 pm

I've gotten out of my depth on the endowment issues and the financial aid issues, although of course you're all welcome to keep discussing them here! Sorry I couldn't be of more help.

Sky'stheLimit
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Re: Harvard 1L will take some questions about Harvard.

Postby Sky'stheLimit » Fri Dec 25, 2009 10:07 pm

LOL You can tell we're wannabes. The REAL Harvard student knows nothing about it.

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Haven
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Re: Harvard 1L will take some questions about Harvard.

Postby Haven » Fri Dec 25, 2009 11:12 pm

Hey Mallard-

How did your ideals/fantasies of what going to Harvard would be like match up with the actuality of attending?

Just curious- as a 0L, I'm sure I have somewhat romanticized notions of top law schools.

bahama
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Re: Harvard 1L will take some questions about Harvard.

Postby bahama » Sat Dec 26, 2009 12:47 pm

Hey Mallard,

Do you see many students over 30 or students with kids at Harvard?

mrduval
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Re: Harvard 1L will take some questions about Harvard.

Postby mrduval » Sat Dec 26, 2009 1:03 pm

Hi Mallard!

Thanks for doing this thread, it has been extremely helpful! Have you gotten a feel at all for how the atmosphere at Harvard has changed since the grading system was changed? I guess I'm wondering if you have heard from 3Ls or anyone else whether students have felt less pressure since the change.

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mallard
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Re: Harvard 1L will take some questions about Harvard.

Postby mallard » Sat Dec 26, 2009 2:21 pm

Haven: I think in terms of being close with current and future luminaries, being at the heart of the production of legal culture, etc., it exceeded my expectations, and I stand by my statement above that Harvard is unmatched in its (palpable) centrality to legal history and the legal industry. I would say that I was somewhat disappointed in the intellectual atmosphere of the campus. Coming from a very artsy and pie-in-the-sky undergraduate training, I wasn't sufficiently prepared for the trade-school vibe, which certainly exists (and is probably stronger at Harvard than at certain peer schools, like Yale, Stanford, and maybe Chicago).

bahama: Harvard is a relatively young school (see the above interventions by Yale students) but I know a few people over 30. I'm not sure I know anybody with children.

mrduval: My sense is that the place is somewhat less stressful and competitive. I don't talk to many 3Ls, but this is what people say.

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BlueCivic
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Re: Harvard 1L will take some questions about Harvard.

Postby BlueCivic » Sat Dec 26, 2009 4:24 pm

Hey what's the deal with the big building that's being constructed? What is going to be there? Does it seem cool? Is the construction annoying and when will it be over? Thanks!

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Nom Sawyer
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Re: Harvard 1L will take some questions about Harvard.

Postby Nom Sawyer » Sun Dec 27, 2009 3:11 pm

Hey mallard, quick question.. I have a friend in the law school at my UG looking to sell some of his books and I was just wondering if I should grab any of the supplements at the cheap prices.. what E&E type things do you think went well with ur classes at Harvard this year? And which classes didn't really need them?

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mallard
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Re: Harvard 1L will take some questions about Harvard.

Postby mallard » Sun Dec 27, 2009 3:16 pm

I mostly eschewed supplements, but my study partners used some. It's hard to know because the credited supplement will depend on your professor and casebook. The ones I know to be generally good are Glannon for Civ Pro, Chirelstein for Contracts, Sprankling for Property, Prosser for Torts, and Dressler for Crim.

BlueCivic, you can find some information about the building here. It's been a little annoying but it seems like the space will be very good to have.

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Alea Iacta Est
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Re: Harvard 1L will take some questions about Harvard.

Postby Alea Iacta Est » Sun Dec 27, 2009 4:45 pm

HLS 2L here -- Is the faculty/admin still giving you the whole "grades don't matter" and "get off the treadmill, you're at Harvard" schticks? I found this nauseating when I was in your spot last year, but if they are continuing to do it this year, it's downright irresponsible.

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mallard
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Re: Harvard 1L will take some questions about Harvard.

Postby mallard » Sun Dec 27, 2009 4:51 pm

Alea Iacta Est wrote:HLS 2L here -- Is the faculty/admin still giving you the whole "grades don't matter" and "get off the treadmill, you're at Harvard" schticks? I found this nauseating when I was in your spot last year, but if they are continuing to do it this year, it's downright irresponsible.


No, I haven't really heard much of this. Was that pretty much the party line? How did you feel about OCI?

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Alea Iacta Est
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Re: Harvard 1L will take some questions about Harvard.

Postby Alea Iacta Est » Sun Dec 27, 2009 4:56 pm

mallard wrote:
Alea Iacta Est wrote:HLS 2L here -- Is the faculty/admin still giving you the whole "grades don't matter" and "get off the treadmill, you're at Harvard" schticks? I found this nauseating when I was in your spot last year, but if they are continuing to do it this year, it's downright irresponsible.


No, I haven't really heard much of this. Was that pretty much the party line? How did you feel about OCI?


Yeah, Kagan gave a big speech on that topic, and I had more than one prof say that grades were meaningless and no one but yourself would care about them. I think they were just trying to counteract the competitive reputation, but many people took the message far too literally and basically "checked out" in response. Not one of these people, OCI was really great for me. But I do know people who struggled -- those with LPs or not a single H, depending on the market(s) in which they interviewed -- and it seems they're also the ones who bought into this line.

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mallard
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Re: Harvard 1L will take some questions about Harvard.

Postby mallard » Sun Dec 27, 2009 5:03 pm

Alea Iacta Est wrote:
mallard wrote:
Alea Iacta Est wrote:HLS 2L here -- Is the faculty/admin still giving you the whole "grades don't matter" and "get off the treadmill, you're at Harvard" schticks? I found this nauseating when I was in your spot last year, but if they are continuing to do it this year, it's downright irresponsible.


No, I haven't really heard much of this. Was that pretty much the party line? How did you feel about OCI?


Yeah, Kagan gave a big speech on that topic, and I had more than one prof say that grades were meaningless and no one but yourself would care about them. I think they were just trying to counteract the competitive reputation, but many people took the message far too literally and basically "checked out" in response. Not one of these people, OCI was really great for me. But I do know people who struggled -- those with LPs or not a single H, depending on the market(s) in which they interviewed -- and it seems they're also the ones who bought into this line.


I know I'm supposed to be the one answering questions here, but really quickly, when did you find out your first-semester grades? Did they come all in a bunch on the scheduled date, or did they trickle in during January?

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Alea Iacta Est
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Re: Harvard 1L will take some questions about Harvard.

Postby Alea Iacta Est » Sun Dec 27, 2009 5:09 pm

mallard wrote:
Alea Iacta Est wrote:
mallard wrote:
Alea Iacta Est wrote:HLS 2L here -- Is the faculty/admin still giving you the whole "grades don't matter" and "get off the treadmill, you're at Harvard" schticks? I found this nauseating when I was in your spot last year, but if they are continuing to do it this year, it's downright irresponsible.


No, I haven't really heard much of this. Was that pretty much the party line? How did you feel about OCI?


Yeah, Kagan gave a big speech on that topic, and I had more than one prof say that grades were meaningless and no one but yourself would care about them. I think they were just trying to counteract the competitive reputation, but many people took the message far too literally and basically "checked out" in response. Not one of these people, OCI was really great for me. But I do know people who struggled -- those with LPs or not a single H, depending on the market(s) in which they interviewed -- and it seems they're also the ones who bought into this line.


I know I'm supposed to be the one answering questions here, but really quickly, when did you find out your first-semester grades? Did they come all in a bunch on the scheduled date, or did they trickle in during January?


Haha no worries, feel free to ask whatever. Grades definitely come out all at once in a big bunch, which definitely feels like a huge "BAM" of information, for lack of a better word. They will say they come out at 9 am on some scheduled date, but they're usually up the evening before (after 6 or so).

Is your winter term thing graded or CR/NC?

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excelsiorcaelo
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Re: Harvard 1L will take some questions about Harvard.

Postby excelsiorcaelo » Sun Dec 27, 2009 5:09 pm

Mallard--I heard, from other 2Ls, that grades come out on the 25th of January.

Re: Supplements: I did not use them, though I unfortunately bought E&Es both for Torts and for Civ Pro. I kept on meaning to open my Glannon, but I never actually did. I don't think my understanding or final product suffered for it, but only time will tell.

As far as the "grades don't matter" spiel, I haven't heard much of it either. People seem to understand that the streamlined grading system with a wide interval of Passes means that they need to stand out in at least a couple classes.

Is your winter term thing graded or CR/NC?


Just CR/NC. Looking forward to it.

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mallard
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Re: Harvard 1L will take some questions about Harvard.

Postby mallard » Sun Dec 27, 2009 5:10 pm

It's pass/fail - I'm going to be drinking a lot.




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