Harvard Student(s) Answering Your Questions

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GeePee
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Harvard Student(s) Answering Your Questions

Postby GeePee » Wed Dec 15, 2010 5:38 pm

Have one more final on Friday, but I'm pretty tired tonight and unlikely to do work.

Shoot.

Edited by acrossthelake:

Frequently Asked Questions


When do fall grades come out?--Answer courtesy of poster tomwatts.
The first week of spring classes in late January, usually on or around Jan. 27. The day has varied somewhat historically, but the Registrar typically sends an email in mid-January naming the precise day (it says "on or before" a day, but the release is always on that day). Grades are typically released in the early or mid-afternoon, and the Registrar sends an announcement email shortly after their release. Obsessively reloading Helios is unhealthy and will get your grades literally only minutes before the email comes out, so it's better just to chill out and wait for the email.

In previous years, the Registrar's email was sent on 1/15/15, 1/17/14, and 1/3/13 (2013 was early and vague because Helios was new at the time). Grades were released on 1/27/15, 1/28/14, 1/28/13, 1/26/12, and 1/27/11.

When do J-term grades come out?
Mid-February. In years past, they have come out on 2/19/14, 2/25/13, and 2/18/12.

When do spring grades come out?
It depends on who you are and what classes you're in!

For 3Ls, grades typically come out the Thursday or Friday before graduation, and Latin Honors are announced at basically the same time.

For 2Ls, most grades typically come out at the same time as 3L grades, but some trickle in later. In general, they are mostly in before 1L grades.

For 1Ls, spring elective grades may come out with 3L grades, or they may trickle in like 2L grades, or they may come in at the same time as other 1L grades. Grades in regular 1L classes generally come out in mid-June, usually on or around June 12. Typically, the Registrar sends an email when 3L grades come out announcing when 1L grades will come out.

MARTHA MINOW & THE J.D. FACTORY
ph14 wrote:
sonyvaio18 wrote:How hard is it at HLS to get mentorship from faculty, given it's large faculty-student ratio. How did you make it work?


Probably easier than you would think, with the caveat that you have to make the initial reach out. I have been really pleasantly surprised in this respect. Faculty are very accessible for the most part, as long as you initiate contact.

What's HLS's "large faculty-student ratio"? We have so many professors that I can't believe the ratio is that high. Actually, the large faculty size is a hidden plus that people on TLS don't really think or talk about. More faculty means more likely that there is someone available in the field or precise area of a field that you are interested in. And moreover, it means there is a greater chance you will connect with a professor and develop a professional relationship. Think about it: 100+ people, your odds of finding someone you connect with is much higher. If your faculty is 20 people, you might just not connect or really enjoy working for/with any of the faculty. If you want to write about, say, corporate law, and there are only one or two corporate law professors, your options are pretty limited. At HLS, though, there's probably six or more corporate law professors. You see what I'm getting at.


ANYTHING TO DO WITH FINANCIAL AID
acrossthelake wrote:Harvard financial aid is really one of those areas where I think a TLS students answering questions thread is one of your weaker sources of information and where you're better off just contacting financial aid. People tend to be fairly tight-lipped about their financial aid packages; though I know very detailed sets of grades & job outcomes for my peers, I know absolutely nothing about anybody's financial aid packages. I'm not even aware of which friends receive aid. The only insight you might gain here is to ask for anecdotes ("has anyone ever done X, what happened"), but questions like how do they take X into account are best just asked directly.


MIRROR MIRROR ON THE WALL, WHO IS THE BEST PROFESSOR OF THEM ALL?
List of recommendations made by ph14

I HEAR IT'S EASY TO GET A DATE WITH A GIRL AT THE ED SCHOOL/HOW DO I GOLD DIG A DUDE AT THE B-SCHOOL?
tomwatts wrote:The difficulties involved in cross-registering include:

HLS chooses classes long before the other schools do, generally long before the other schools even post their schedules. So if there's something that you really want to take at another school, you'd better hope that it doesn't conflict with the law school classes that you need. This is frequently an issue because...

HLS operates on a consecutive-days-of-the-week model, so you have M/Tu classes or M/Tu/W classes, or W/Th/F classes, or whatever. All of the other schools I've paid attention to within Harvard (HKS, the College, the HGSE) operate on an alternating-days-of-the-week model, so they have M/W/F classes or Tu/Th classes or the like. (HKS has Tu/Th/F classes sometimes, too, but the Friday session is "optional" in theory.) So there's a LOT of overlap, partly because of this and partly because...

The campuses schedule classes in blocks that don't correspond. For example, HLS has no classes during the 12-1 pm block, but classes will run right up to that blank space or begin right after it. HKS, on the other hand, typically has an 11:40 to 1 pm block in which classes are scheduled. So you'll often have 10-minute or 20-minute overlaps of classes. The campuses are not necessarily all that close to each other, either (HBS is probably a 20-minute walk from HLS), so travel time can be an issue. And if that weren't enough of a scheduling nightmare, there's also the fact that...

The campuses take different holidays. For example, because I'm a JD/MPP and a TF at the College, I have to pay attention to HLS, HKS, and the College, and the first day of classes is 9/3 for the College, 9/5 for HKS, and 9/9 for HLS (for 2Ls and 3Ls). All three campuses take Columbus Day off, but HLS also takes the following day off, which HKS and the College don't. HLS and the College take Veterans Day off, but HKS doesn't. All three campuses have the same Thanksgiving, but the last day of classes is 12/3 for the College and 12/6 for HKS and HLS. Confused yet?

Once you've found a class that you want to take and think you can fit into your schedule, you may not be able to take it. As far as I know, cross-registrants go into the back of the line of people trying to register for the class. Thus, HLS students typically can't take (or have to apply into) the most impacted (best?) classes at the other schools. For example, I know that many of the best HKS classes don't allow students from other campuses.

There's also some annoying paperwork to be done, but that's usually not the biggest issue. Also a maximum of 12 cross-registration credits count towards the credits you need to graduate, so if you cross-register a lot, some of the classes may not count towards your law degree. (This is a big issue for joint-degree students, often, but less so for everyone else.)

Despite all of the above, people cross-register all the time, and it's often a very good experience. There are non-impacted but good classes that you can take at other campuses that are really worthwhile, if you can get past the scheduling nightmares.


SO LET'S SAY I MEANT SOME K-SCHOOL HOTTIES INSTEAD
tomwatts wrote:
PinkCow wrote:
neprep wrote:Can anyone speak to taking classes at one of the other schools, like HBS or the Kennedy School? My understanding is that the academic calendars don't jive across schools; so, if you want to take classes in these other schools, do you pretty much have to arrive earlier/stay later on campus?

I took 2 classes at HKS. It's a hassle but worth it if you find something you like. One class was probably the best class I've taken at Harvard. Some cons: both of my classes were 1 hr. 20 mins twice/week, and only counted for 2 credits each. I personally found one of the classes I took to be more work than most 3 or 4 credit LS classes, so it was kind of rough for just 2 credits, especially when you're in class for almost the same amount of time. Also, classes at HKS are typically every other day (e.g., Tuesday, Thursday) instead of back to back, which makes scheduling complicated. Also, you have to wait a month or so longer than other HKS students to get your grades because it goes through the law school. So, if there's any issue with your grade, you won't know until much later than everyone else. Also, the cross-registration system is really not good. You don't know for sure if you're in a class until past the add/drop date, and the whole process for getting into a class is just difficult and uncertain.

I'm a JD/MPP, so I take a lot of classes at HKS. A couple of extra things about this:

* The greatest hits at HKS are probably the best classes at Harvard. A few of them are so impacted with HKS students that they don't take cross-registrants at all. A few of them are a little complicated to get into, but you probably can if you're really, really persistent. A good number of them you can just take, because there's plenty of room. PM me if you want to know about a specific class; I can probably tell you about most of them. People say good things about HBS classes, but I know less about them.

* The weekly schedule is horribly in conflict. HLS has a consecutive-days-of-the-week system that no other Harvard campus has (as far as I know). Also, the times don't line up. So a lot of classes will overlap for 10 minutes once a week or something awkward like that, so you can't take them.

* Normally, a 0.5-credit module at HKS counts as 1 cross-registration credit. This is a class that meets for half the semester (which is super convenient for a law student, if it's the first half of the semester). A 1-credit class at HKS counts as 3 cross-registration credits. Assume that a 1-credit class at HKS (so, 3 cross-registration credits) is at least as much work as a 4-credit class at HLS.

PinkCow wrote:The academic calendar is quite similar. I think classes at HKS might start like a couple days early, but not that bad. They end basically the same as law school classes.

The calendar is technically aligned, but that doesn't mean very much. At HLS, the fall semester began on 9/3 (the day after Labor Day), but that just meant that 1L classes started then, and 2L/3L classes didn't start until 9/9. At HKS, the fall semester began on 9/3, but that meant that course shopping (sitting in on classes to see what you want to take) started on that day, and classes didn't begin until 9/5. Other campuses do things differently, too, e.g., the College starts all classes on 9/3. I don't know what HBS does, but it seems likely that it's slightly different, too.

The campuses also take different holidays. All campuses take Columbus Day off, but HLS uniquely takes the following day off, too. HKS takes Veterans Day off, but the other campuses don't. The list goes on.

In the spring, all the campuses start on the same day, but HLS ends classes on 4/25, and exams start on 4/29. HKS doesn't end classes until 5/2. HLS exams run through 5/8, and HKS classes run through 5/16.

The end result is that you have to get to campus a week (well, a few days, but the prior week) early in the fall or stay up to a week late in the spring, depending on the class's exam schedule.

PinkCow wrote:Grades are letter grades but they don't factor into your LS GPA calculations. They do show up on your transcript. The curve is pretty tight and you can generally expect an A- or a B+ unless you do really well or really poorly.

The HKS grade distribution is here.

PinkCow wrote:Also, this is just a random point, but the facilities at HKS are a little . . . old. Hallways, classrooms, and common areas are typically extremely cramped. Plus, the desks suuucckkkkkk.

Some of the rooms have been refurbished lately. The old L-130 was an affront to educational architecture. The room literally impeded my learning. The new L-130 is much better (though still small). If you get an unrefurbished room (RG-20), it may be a little awkward. If you get a refurbished room (Starr), it's pretty comparable to Austin or Langdell.

Oh, and walking down from HLS to HKS or HBS is kind of a hike. I don't normally mind — it's not more than 15 minutes at most to get to HKS, and probably no more than an extra 10 to get to anywhere at HBS — but in a snowstorm (as today) it can be a little more arduous. Today was one of my HLS-HKS-HLS-HKS-HLS days, so it was a little rough.


HOW SHOULD I PREP BEFORE I START?
tomwatts wrote:
despina wrote:3. Everybody calm right on down about exams and outlines. Some people do like to look at outlines during the course -- I never looked at any until I started studying a few weeks before exams and I did just fine. Looking at exams and outlines right now, before class even starts, is just going to stress you out unnecessarily and make you feel like you "should" be doing something to prepare or that you're behind if you're just relaxing now. You shouldn't and you're not. You should be enjoying the rest of your summer and figuring out real logistical issues like public transit and buying textbooks online. Probably one of the worst thing I did to stress myself out 1L year was opening the exam bank in September -- it just made me panic and feel like I was already behind, while it didn't give me any insight into how to prepare for class or ace exams.

On this point, I want to say something that is not directly in contradiction to this, but runs sort of the opposite direction. I bring this up only because I wanted to do a little bit of reading up on things in August, but I felt inhibited because people said that it was a terrible idea and I shouldn't and it would be really bad and so on.

No one needs to be looking at exams and outlines and such now. Classes don't start for three weeks. But if you feel like it, it wouldn't be harmful to look at an exam or an outline or someone's class notes from a previous year right around the time classes are starting, as long as you're not neurotic about it. Law school is not some mystical experience in which knowledge must be withheld from the uninitiated. You just have to bear in mind that early in the semester you're not going to know anywhere near enough to answer exam questions, and you probably aren't going to be able to do anything like a proper outline yet. (I started outlining really early, and I didn't start until October.)

Even in September, though, you can still get a general sense as to what the exam will look like, and you can see how someone else has approached the problem of outlining for the course. Take everything with a grain of salt, of course, because everyone does these things a little differently, and someone's outline may not be very good even if that person got an H (or even a DS), so you may have to adjust what that person did. But you can still get a sense as to what's going on, and you can get a more global picture of how what you're doing from day to day is going to fit into what you're going to have to do at the end of the course. For some people, not knowing is more stressful than knowing.

Also, apparently most people don't take real class notes, but I do, and if you can get ahold of those for someone who had the same professor as you, those tell you what class discussion is going to focus on for pretty much every day and every case. That can be useful from the first day of class, even if you have no thought in your head about exam prep yet.

Finally, if you're curious, there's no harm in poking around even now (in mid-August), but do it because you're interested and want to, not because you feel like you need to. You don't need to. There's nothing that you can do now that will put you ahead of the curve in any meaningful way. But if you feel like learning what it means to brief a case for class, you could read general descriptions about that now. (Google will pop up answers to that for you.) If you want to go as far as reading Getting to Maybe now, there's no harm in it, though you'll probably understand about 25% of what the authors are saying and have to read it again in November. It doesn't give you any advantage, but if you want to, don't hold yourself back because you're worried about something or other.

In other words, don't let judgmental people, especially on TLS, tell you what to do or what not to do. What you do or don't do in August will not help you or hurt you for the exam in December, so do whatever you feel like. And there are things you can do in late August (like learning how to prepare for class) that will make early September less awkward and confusing, though it will still be somewhat awkward and confusing.


I LIVE IN THE LIBRARY :(
tomwatts wrote:It's always possible to fall back on canned case briefs and prior students' outlines in classes in which the cases are the standard ones and the prof has been teaching for a while. That said, you'll get a lot better at reading cases if you do the work yourself.

It's also worth thinking about what's taking forever. Sometimes what's hard about reading a case is that it's been edited to crap, because the casebook author only cares about some small portion of the case. In such a situation, I feel no shame about looking up a case brief (or, in rare situations, the entire case via Google Scholar). It's hard to understand not because of you but because it was edited to death.

Sometimes it takes forever to read a case because it wasn't edited at all. The only thing that's relevant is the holding, maybe, but you're given the entire opinion with all the procedural issues, random tangents, and secondary concerns. In that case, read the whole thing, but bear in mind which section of the book you're in (e.g. the chapter is called "Contract Formation" and the section is entitled "Offer" — what you want to know is what one party did that constituted or didn't constitute an offer, not all the other arcane details). Focus on what you need and skim over the rest for background.

But it does get better after a while. I don't know why casebooks aren't written to be more intuitive — it seems like it wouldn't be that hard — but you have to get used to them in the first month or so. You'll fall into a rhythm.


SO MAYBE I DON'T WANT TO LIVE IN THE LIBRARY
tomwatts wrote:
tomwatts wrote:At some point, I should write up all the quirks of the housing scheme in the Holmes-Ames-Dane complex. It's not intuitive at all how it ends up playing out.

And now, after procrastinating on a problem set that I don't really want to do, here it is:

YOUR COMPLETE GUIDE TO HOLMES, AMES, AND DANE (PART OF THE GROPIUS COMPLEX)
Holmes, Ames, and Dane are three connected parts of the Gropius complex, such that you never have to step outside to go from one to the other. (Shaw and Story are connected to the three by a roofed but open walkway.) Ames is in the middle and is 4 floors tall. Holmes and Dane are on the sides and are 3 floors tall, but Holmes 1 doesn’t have residences. The doors connecting Ames and Holmes are unlocked and open, but the doors connecting Ames and Dane are locked and closed, so you have to use a key to get from one to the other. You also have to use a key to get to a floor above or below yours.

The basic amenities on a floor are the bathroom, possibly a lounge, and possibly a kitchen. The floors alternate male/female bathrooms, starting with Ames 1 female and Dane 1 male. Thus, Ames 2 has a male bathroom, and Holmes 2 and Dane 2 have female bathrooms, and so it alternates all the way up. The floors are generally coed, but they tend to segregate partially by the type of bathroom nearby. Ames also has lounges on every floor; Dane 3 is the only non-Ames floor with a lounge. Kitchens are placed apparently randomly: Dane 1, Dane 2, Holmes 2, and Ames 3. Ames has a few much larger (and more expensive) rooms as well as the regular (small) rooms that the other buildings have.

Some people want to live near a lounge, and some don’t. Ames 1 tends to be pretty active every year; the other lounges vary. If you’re living right next to the lounge, you can hear everything that goes on in it. If you’re living down the hall a ways, you hear it if it gets loud, but not otherwise. If you’re around the turn (e.g. Holmes 2, around the turn from Ames 2), you don’t hear anything.

Also, if you care about how much traffic goes through your bathroom or kitchen, then you probably want Dane. Because Dane is locked off from the other two, it tends to get less use for its facilities. Dane 1 and Ames 1 also have nice, large shower stalls intended for (I think) handicapped students but available for anyone’s use.

Short version: If you’re female and want to be near a lounge, you probably want Ames 3 or possibly Ames 1. If you’re female and don’t want to be near a lounge, you probably want Holmes 2 or Dane 2. If you’re male and want to be near a lounge, you probably want Ames 2, or maybe Dane 3 or Ames 4. If you’re male and don’t want to be near a lounge, you want Dane 1 or maybe Holmes 3. Wanting large rooms, larger stalls in the bathroom, a less busy bathroom, or other things may change your calculation, and being right at the end of Ames closest to Holmes or the end of Holmes closest to Ames is basically equivalent.

Here’s the floor by floor breakdown:

Ames 1: This is probably the best floor for a female who wants to be near a very social lounge and doesn’t care about being near a kitchen. Amenities: Female bathroom (not busy, large stalls). Nearest male bathroom is either Dane 1 (through a locked door) or Ames 2 (through a locked door). Lounge (fairly busy, general meetup place for most Gropius gatherings). Nearest kitchen is either Dane 1 (through a locked door) or Holmes 2 (through a locked door). Large rooms available.
Dane 1: This is probably the best floor for a male who wants to be near a kitchen and not near a lounge. Amenities: Male bathroom (not busy, large stalls). Nearest female bathroom is Dane 2 (through a locked door). Nearest lounge is Ames 1. Kitchen (not busy).

Holmes 2: This is one of the best floors for a female who doesn’t want to be near a lounge. Amenities: Female bathroom (somewhat busy? Not sure). Nearest male bathroom is Ames 2 (through an open door). Nearest lounge is Ames 2 (through an open door). Kitchen (somewhat busy).
Ames 2: This is probably the best floor for a male who wants to be near a lounge. Amenities: Male bathroom (somewhat busy). Nearest female bathroom is either Holmes 2 (through an open door) or Dane 2 (through a locked door). Lounge. Nearest kitchen is either Holmes 2 (through an open door) or Dane 2 (through a locked door). Large rooms available.
Dane 2: This is one of the best floors for a female who doesn’t want to be near a lounge. Amenities: Female bathroom (not busy? Not sure). Nearest male bathroom is a floor up or down or in Ames 2 (any of which is through a locked door). Nearest lounge is either Ames 2 (through a locked door) or Dane 3 (through a locked door). Kitchen (somewhat busy).

Holmes 3: This is an okay floor for a male who doesn’t want to be near a lounge and doesn’t mind sharing a kitchen with a lot of people (or going through a locked door to get to one). Amenities: Male bathroom (not very busy — Ames 3 males for some reason use Ames 4 a lot). Nearest female bathroom is Ames 3 (through an open door). Nearest lounge is Ames 3. Nearest kitchen is Ames 3 (very busy), though Holmes 2 (through a locked door) is also an option.
Ames 3: This is the best floor for a female who wants to be near a lounge and wants a kitchen nearby. Amenities: Female bathroom. Nearest male bathroom is Holmes 3 (through an open door), Dane 3 (through a locked door), or Ames 4 (through a locked door). Lounge. Kitchen (very busy). Large rooms available.
Dane 3: This is an okay floor for a male who wants to be near a lounge and doesn’t mind going through a locked door to a kitchen. Amenities: Male bathroom (not busy? Not sure). Nearest female bathroom is Ames 3. Lounge. Nearest kitchen is Dane 2 or Ames 3 (both through a locked door).

Ames 4: This is a good floor for a male who wants to be near a lounge and doesn’t mind going through a locked door to a kitchen. Amenities: Male bathroom (somewhat busy). Lounge. Nearest kitchen is Ames 3 (through a locked door). All-male floor. Large rooms available.


GRADES, HOW DO THEY WORK?
tomwatts wrote:Because I'm bored, here's a bunch of information about grades. By way of preface, I looked all this up mostly because I like numbers and find doing this sort of research fun, not because I'm a deranged gunner, even though I realize "deranged gunner" is how this sort of thing comes across on TLS.

Feel free to quote this liberally when grades questions come in next week.

THE HISTORY OF HLS GRADES, PRE-REFORM TO NOW

Back in 2009, the Acting Dean of HLS, Howell Jackson, announced a grade distribution for the new grades (apparently carrying out one of the last Elena Kagan reforms). Prior to this time, the grading system was on an A, B, etc., scale. According to the HL Record, the distribution in 1L classes from 1996 to 2000 (and likely well before and well after that) was: 8-11% A, 17-19%A-, 32-34% B+, 29-32% B, 7-8% B-, and 1% each of A+ and C or lower.

The published grade distribution, according to Above the Law and corroborated by the Crimson, was:

In classes with over 30 JD and LLM students enrolled, the recommended distribution of grades is: 37 percent Honors; 55 percent Pass; and 8 percent Low Pass.... Up to two Dean’s Scholar Prizes per class may be awarded in recognition of outstanding work, provided there are more than 30 JD and LLM students in the course following drop/add.


This began during the 2009-10 school year. This means that we're now in the fifth year of the new grades. (Wow, really? That means my 1L year was the third year. No wonder no one knew what the hell any of it meant.)

In the second year (2010-11), under the new Dean Martha Minow, some stealth changes were introduced (at least, that's Above the Law's way of describing it). The grade distribution returned to being unpublished, although there's no reason to believe that it changed substantially, and, judging by informal conversations I've had with professors, it didn't, with the exceptions of DSs and LPs.

Specifically, according to the Crimson, profs were given "increased discretion over the number of Dean’s Scholar Prizes." No one knows exactly what that means, but guesses earlier in this thread have suggested in the vicinity of 3-5 for a class of 80. According to the HL Record, giving LPs also became discretionary (that is, a prof can give zero). And, judging by the "The curve is suggested in all classes with over 30 students" answer in that interview, the curve became a bit more flexible (that is, a prof can give 31 H's in a class of 80, which is over 38%, and no one cares).

Finally, again according to the Crimson, the current grade point system was introduced, along with — I believe — the current system of calculating Latin honors at graduation.

THE CURRENT GRADE DISTRIBUTION (vs. the old one)

Judging by the above, it's something like this (in PERCENTILES, not percent correct or something):

94-99: DS (discretionary; could be 96-99, or whatever)
63-93: H
8-63: P
0-7: LP (discretionary: could be 0-4, or whatever)

The pre-reform grade distribution was, give or take:

99: A+
90-98: A
72-89: A-
39-71: B+
8-38: B
1-7: B-
0: C or lower

This was interesting to me, because it means, basically, that the new system is a really good excuse for grade inflation. Mark Weber was paraphrased in the Crimson as having equated the old A+ and the new DS, but the new DS is much more common (there are maybe 3-5 of them per 1L class section, as opposed to at most 1 in the old system). An H mostly overlaps with the old A/A- (63-93 for an H vs. 72-98 for an A/A-), but the cutoff is lower, so some old B+'s also become Hs. The LP overlaps with the old B-/C (0-7 [discretionary] for the LP vs. 0-7 for the B-/C), but because it's discretionary, there can be fewer of them than of the old B-/C.

LATIN HONORS

According to the current HLS grading policy, Latin honors are calculated as follows:

For each class, DS = 5, H = 4, P = 3, LP = 2, and F = 0. Calculate a GPA by calculating a weighted average of your grades for the year (weighted by the number of credits). Then average each of the three years of law school.

Thus, imagine a student with 1 DS and 4 Hs in regular 4-credit 1L classes and all Ps in the other 5 classes (including in both semesters of LRW and a 4-credit elective). That comes out to (from best grade to worst, by number of credits): [(4 * 5) + (4 * 4 * 4) + (3 * 4 * 3) + (2 * 2 * 3) ] / 36 = 3.67 for 1L year. If this student then had two more years of grades, you'd repeat the same calculation for each year individually, and then average the three years. So if 2L year gave 3.33 and 3L year gave 3.6, this student would have an overall GPA of 3.53. This is true despite the fact that the years have wildly different numbers of credits; each year is of equal weight regardless.

The top student gets summa, the next 10% get magna, and the next 30% get cum laude. TLS estimates put the cutoffs for cum laude as around 3.5 or so each year, and for magna around 3.9 or so. (These seem slightly low to me; I was told by a prof that magna is around 4.0, give or take.)

WHAT ALL THIS MEANS FOR A 1L WHO JUST GOT FIRST SEMESTER GRADES

Pretty much nothing. Average and median are about 1-2 Hs. If you did much better than that, don't get too cocky. You still have to do that another five times before you can stamp the "magna" on your transcript. If you did much worse than that, don't freak out. You've got five more semesters to figure it out. Talk to professors and see if you can get feedback. Talk to professors this semester and see if they can advise you how to study and what to pay attention to. Talk to 2Ls and 3Ls. Get outlines and hornbooks. Do something different. You'll be fine.

Even for EIP purposes, it's the total on the year that matters, not just one semester, and a great second semester will help to make up for a so-so first semester (and a crappy second semester can screw up whatever good stuff you've done in your first semester). So take it all with a grain of salt. There's quite a way left to go.

If you did really poorly (multiple LPs and no Hs), talk to OCS early, too. Part of what they paid for is making sure that all Harvard students get jobs when they graduate. They can figure out what you ought to do.


SO...IS IT LIKE PAPER CHASE?
tomwatts wrote:
Lurkington wrote:Joking aside, what is the general student culture? Collegial or cutthroat?

It's really diverse. I think the majority of it is more collegial than cutthroat, but it varies widely. I haven't come across a lot of people who are unfriendly gunners. There are a lot of people who try to do well, but very few of them try to cut other people down while doing it.

Lurkington wrote:If my computer crashes and I need an outline will I get laughed at or helped out?

Odds are you'll get helped out.

Lurkington wrote:Are the professors generally accessible? Are they good at teaching?

They vary in accessibility, but most are pretty accessible if you try. They're surprisingly good at teaching given that they have never had any training whatsoever in teaching and have just sort of worked it out on their own. There are superstar teachers who are extremely good, and there are meh-ish teachers, and everything in between.

Lurkington wrote:Did the school help you find 1L summer employment? Where they useful? Are you satisfied with Career Services? Summer funding program seems weak compared to other schools, any experiences / feedback on this?

Summer funding is fine. The majority of students are on SPIF for their 1L summers, and they manage to live in NYC, DC, or wherever else. The school sort of helped me find 1L summer employment, but you have to work at it more than I expected. I had an unusually bad experience finding my 1L summer job, and I probably would've done better if I had met with OCS/OPIA more and earlier.

Lurkington wrote:Thoughts on class size? Is it easy to network (with students, profs, firms, whatever), or do you get lost in the crowd?

I found it remarkably easy to get an alum on the phone, even in a less-common area of interest (California state government). Networking with firms is actively part of weekly events. Profs vary a bit, and so do the other students, but if you want to connect, you can. But I'll reiterate: the alumni network is ridiculously strong and pretty accessible.

Lurkington wrote:I'd also love to hear about clinical experiences.

Haven't done one yet.


CLINICS?
DoubleChecks wrote:Haven't seen a response to the clinical work yet, so I will comment, having done two and have friends who have done a few.

The experience varies from clinic to clinic. It would be best to get a heads up on how your specific clinic is run. I did negotiation clinic which I loved. Loose structure so 2 to 4 credits, hard to tell the difference. You're in a team of 2-3 and you all work hard to try to get the project done. Not as much law as it is negotiation/mediation. If you enjoy that stuff, it is a very fun, unstructured clinic that can leave you feeling like you accomplished something. Have to have taken the negotiation clinic beforehand, which I personally loved, but I am a negotiation-addict. Most people I talked to loved the clinic (I took it in the winter so I got to immerse myself and not worry about grades/other classes)...though I have met a handful that thought it was too many hrs/waste of time for what you end up learning. But meh, that's law school in general.

I have friends in the WilmerHale transaction clinic. Show up every day, very much like a job. Most said it is kind of boring. Did not ask too much about it but that was the impression I got.

Capital Punishment clinic was another one I took. Again, if you enjoy that type of work, it can be quite rewarding. Depending on where you land for the winter (it is a winter-spring clinical), you can get anywhere from intense to chill. I went to a really chill place in TX. Pretty lax, good work (very LRW-like), unstructured, and went to death row a few times to meet clients. Good experience. In the spring, it was remote access. I would not recommend taking too many credit hours for this just because it is too unstructured/distant to get 4 credits worth (20 hrs a week). I felt like I was begging for work at times. Similar work but you don't get the same feel by doing it from the comfort of your own home, though obvious benefit is you get to do it from the comfort of your own home.

Other friends of mine have done the human rights clinic. The former sounds like it can get REALLY intense (at some points, sounded like more work than 2 classes combined o.O), but you're doing substantive work. Not to sound repetitive, but if you enjoy the work...good experience.

I feel like there are a lot of clinics here, and they really vary in the experiences they offer. Do some research beforehand in how the ones you are interested in are like, then do one. I recommend doing a clinic before one graduates. Law school classes teach you stuff that is maybe 1% applicable to the real world. Clinics give you at least some higher percentage.

I hope this post made sense. I drank a lot an hour ago. Pretty much finished law school today. sw00t.

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Re: Harvard Student(s) Answering Your Questions

Postby weejonbu » Wed Dec 15, 2010 5:39 pm

Is first semester the hell people make it out to be? How's the competition?

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DoubleChecks
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Re: Harvard Student(s) Answering Your Questions

Postby DoubleChecks » Wed Dec 15, 2010 5:40 pm

lol i guess ill jump in on this too if GP is okay w/ it :) oh and viewtopic.php?f=28&t=140824 bottom of pg. 1 i answered a few already as well

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Re: Harvard Student(s) Answering Your Questions

Postby tgir » Wed Dec 15, 2010 5:42 pm

Is there a sense of community outside one's own section? Or is it more likely that people find their community through affinity groups? And what about 1L's interactions with upperclassmen?

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Re: Harvard Student(s) Answering Your Questions

Postby GeePee » Wed Dec 15, 2010 5:44 pm

First semester is just fine, other than a few points of absolute hell. The few days before your open and closed memos are due, and the 2 weeks between the end of classes and the end of finals, are brutal. My section has really been awesome going through it though. I've witnessed no prissy fights, no confrontations, and no outward gunning, although I would say that the average person in my section has put in more work than most.

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Re: Harvard Student(s) Answering Your Questions

Postby GeePee » Wed Dec 15, 2010 5:48 pm

tgir wrote:Is there a sense of community outside one's own section?

First semester 1L is extremely insular if you don't involve yourself in activities outside of your section. Most of your friends will likely be from your section. Second semester begins to branch a bit, and by 2L sections totally dissolve. However, since you're going to be the closest with people in your section, that's going to dictate a lot of your persisting interactions with others.

There are good things to do to get yourself outside of the section, though. I highly recommend flag football to anyone who thinks that could be any fun, even if you're not athletic. Most of the people who opted out of it seem to regret doing so. Plus, there are like a billion clubs and organizations here, more than you could ever find time for (especially during 1L).

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Re: Harvard Student(s) Answering Your Questions

Postby Fresh » Wed Dec 15, 2010 5:50 pm

I'm not sure if you're a 1L, but I will assume you are:

What does your daily schedule look like (i.e. how many hours of class, how many hours of studying)?

How much does this change during the "points of absolute hell?"

If you could change on thing about HLS, what would it be?


Thanks for answering ?s :o

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Re: Harvard Student(s) Answering Your Questions

Postby DoubleChecks » Wed Dec 15, 2010 6:05 pm

weejonbu wrote:Is first semester the hell people make it out to be? How's the competition?


mm everyone works hard, but imo, it hasnt been a hell semester. ive quite enjoyed it. it is def more work than undergrad lol, but def less than i had thought it would be (in my head i had imagined something much, much worse). buuuut how much work is required may be closely related to how well you do on the final exams...so ill let you know in about a month :P

and as GP said, most of my classmates REALLY hated writing the memos and/or thought the days before it were really bad. i kinda liked LRW and writing memos haha, or at least did not dislike it, and just dedicated most of the weekend before it was due to it..but im in the minority i think.

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Re: Harvard Student(s) Answering Your Questions

Postby DoubleChecks » Wed Dec 15, 2010 6:07 pm

tgir wrote:Is there a sense of community outside one's own section? Or is it more likely that people find their community through affinity groups? And what about 1L's interactions with upperclassmen?


definitely a good sense of community within one's section...outside? for me, not really...i mean, i do interact w/ other sections on a limited basis, and prob interact w/ some 2Ls/3Ls even more, but it is completely through journal/clubs for me.

btw, upperclassmen are great and super helpful. most ppl generally are in my experience tbh.

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Re: Harvard Student(s) Answering Your Questions

Postby 4for44 » Wed Dec 15, 2010 6:12 pm

DoubleChecks wrote:
tgir wrote:Is there a sense of community outside one's own section? Or is it more likely that people find their community through affinity groups? And what about 1L's interactions with upperclassmen?


definitely a good sense of community within one's section...outside? for me, not really...i mean, i do interact w/ other sections on a limited basis, and prob interact w/ some 2Ls/3Ls even more, but it is completely through journal/clubs for me.

btw, upperclassmen are great and super helpful. most ppl generally are in my experience tbh.



Do you (or anyone else for that matter) have any notion if you are going to H or P? Ill leave out LP and hope professors will as well ;)

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Re: Harvard Student(s) Answering Your Questions

Postby GeePee » Wed Dec 15, 2010 6:12 pm

Fresh wrote:I'm not sure if you're a 1L, but I will assume you are:

What does your daily schedule look like (i.e. how many hours of class, how many hours of studying)?

How much does this change during the "points of absolute hell?"

If you could change on thing about HLS, what would it be?


Thanks for answering ?s :o

I am a 1L, to clear that up for further questions.

So, my first semester schedule was like this:

Monday -- Torts, Property (1-4:40)
Tuesday -- Same.
Wednesday -- Contracts 8:20-9:40, Civil Procedure 1:20-2:40, Property 3:20-4:40
Thursday -- Contracts (same time), Civ Pro (same time), LRW 3:15-5:15 (This class meets only 1/2 the time first semester, and about 4-5 times second semester)
Friday -- Contracts (same time), Civ Pro (same time).

That's 18 credit hours of classes. Then, early in the semester I usually worked from 9-1 on Monday and Tuesday trying to get a head for a bit for the week, and Wednesday/Thursday/Friday I worked mostly in the evenings, and a bit between classes. During off-times I usually put in about 4 hours outside of class per day. The real strain on your schedule, though, will be all of the other random events and meetings that 1L's have to/should attend throughout the semester in the evenings. The hour or 2, three nights a week, really eat up your time fast. In the beginning of the semester, I didn't work much on the weekends unless I had memo work to do. This was the biggest change when I started ramping up to finals, because starting Nov. 1 Saturdays and Sundays became great days to do tons and tons of work outside of the minimally required stuff to keep up to date for class. Plus, practice exams on some weekdays took some time as well.

If there were 1 thing I could change about HLS, it would probably be to increase the amount of cross-section interaction during 1L. Having a section is great, and I love my section, but there are 480 other people at HLS, most of which I'm sure are also pretty interesting. I've been able to meet some of them, but I would appreciate meeting more.

If there's one thing that I would change about my own 1L, it would be that I never made it to bar review once during first semester. I kind of hate myself for that, and think that it might mean that I'm a gunner.

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Re: Harvard Student(s) Answering Your Questions

Postby DoubleChecks » Wed Dec 15, 2010 6:13 pm

4for44 wrote:
DoubleChecks wrote:
tgir wrote:Is there a sense of community outside one's own section? Or is it more likely that people find their community through affinity groups? And what about 1L's interactions with upperclassmen?


definitely a good sense of community within one's section...outside? for me, not really...i mean, i do interact w/ other sections on a limited basis, and prob interact w/ some 2Ls/3Ls even more, but it is completely through journal/clubs for me.

btw, upperclassmen are great and super helpful. most ppl generally are in my experience tbh.



Do you (or anyone else for that matter) have any notion if you are going to H or P? Ill leave out LP and hope professors will as well ;)


i mean, i can feel like i did x work or whatever, and i definitely think all my exams so far...or at least 2/3 of them...have been HP worthy haha. but it is on a curve, so if everyone feels that way...could be in for a rude awakening. ill let you know how feelings/studying methods correlate w/ grades when i get them haha
Last edited by DoubleChecks on Wed Dec 15, 2010 6:15 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Harvard Student(s) Answering Your Questions

Postby GeePee » Wed Dec 15, 2010 6:15 pm

DoubleChecks wrote:
weejonbu wrote:Is first semester the hell people make it out to be? How's the competition?


mm everyone works hard, but imo, it hasnt been a hell semester. ive quite enjoyed it. it is def more work than undergrad lol, but def less than i had thought it would be (in my head i had imagined something much, much worse). buuuut how much work is required may be closely related to how well you do on the final exams...so ill let you know in about a month :P

and as GP said, most of my classmates REALLY hated writing the memos and/or thought the days before it were really bad. i kinda liked LRW and writing memos haha, or at least did not dislike it, and just dedicated most of the weekend before it was due to it..but im in the minority i think.

I'll clarify that I really appreciated learning how to write the memos. However, there comes a point during the 5 weeks that you have to do the damn thing that you realize you've written what would be a perfectly acceptable memorandum for your employer, and then you sink 10 more hours into editing. That gets frustrating.

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Re: Harvard Student(s) Answering Your Questions

Postby DoubleChecks » Wed Dec 15, 2010 6:16 pm

GeePee wrote:
DoubleChecks wrote:
weejonbu wrote:Is first semester the hell people make it out to be? How's the competition?


mm everyone works hard, but imo, it hasnt been a hell semester. ive quite enjoyed it. it is def more work than undergrad lol, but def less than i had thought it would be (in my head i had imagined something much, much worse). buuuut how much work is required may be closely related to how well you do on the final exams...so ill let you know in about a month :P

and as GP said, most of my classmates REALLY hated writing the memos and/or thought the days before it were really bad. i kinda liked LRW and writing memos haha, or at least did not dislike it, and just dedicated most of the weekend before it was due to it..but im in the minority i think.

I'll clarify that I really appreciated learning how to write the memos. However, there comes a point during the 5 weeks that you have to do the damn thing that you realize you've written what would be a perfectly acceptable memorandum for your employer, and then you sink 10 more hours into editing. That gets frustrating.


the hard part of writing the memo, for me at least, was writing something the climenko fellow wanted. not necessarily what you thought was good or the best, but what was asked for. it makes sense on a practical level, but it takes some getting used to...and w/ only 2 memos, lol...usually you learn after the first one :)

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Re: Harvard Student(s) Answering Your Questions

Postby GeePee » Wed Dec 15, 2010 6:18 pm

4for44 wrote:
DoubleChecks wrote:
tgir wrote:Is there a sense of community outside one's own section? Or is it more likely that people find their community through affinity groups? And what about 1L's interactions with upperclassmen?


definitely a good sense of community within one's section...outside? for me, not really...i mean, i do interact w/ other sections on a limited basis, and prob interact w/ some 2Ls/3Ls even more, but it is completely through journal/clubs for me.

btw, upperclassmen are great and super helpful. most ppl generally are in my experience tbh.



Do you (or anyone else for that matter) have any notion if you are going to H or P? Ill leave out LP and hope professors will as well ;)

That's a good question. I have no idea -- the only thing I know so far is that I didn't do LP work on any of the tests, but that's not what you asked.

I'd be better equipped to answer this question when I have my grades and I can compare how I felt with what I got. Unfortunately, that doesn't happen until the 3rd-4th week of January.

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Re: Harvard Student(s) Answering Your Questions

Postby DoubleChecks » Wed Dec 15, 2010 6:21 pm

GeePee wrote:
4for44 wrote:
DoubleChecks wrote:
tgir wrote:Is there a sense of community outside one's own section? Or is it more likely that people find their community through affinity groups? And what about 1L's interactions with upperclassmen?


definitely a good sense of community within one's section...outside? for me, not really...i mean, i do interact w/ other sections on a limited basis, and prob interact w/ some 2Ls/3Ls even more, but it is completely through journal/clubs for me.

btw, upperclassmen are great and super helpful. most ppl generally are in my experience tbh.



Do you (or anyone else for that matter) have any notion if you are going to H or P? Ill leave out LP and hope professors will as well ;)

That's a good question. I have no idea -- the only thing I know so far is that I didn't do LP work on any of the tests, but that's not what you asked.

I'd be better equipped to answer this question when I have my grades and I can compare how I felt with what I got. Unfortunately, that doesn't happen until the 3rd-4th week of January.


whats horrible about this is, we turned in our last memo like a month ago, yet we dont get the grades back until 3-4 week of Jan either. i would like to know the grade on my open memo before i choose to edit it and use it as a writing sample...lol.

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Re: Harvard Student(s) Answering Your Questions

Postby 4for44 » Wed Dec 15, 2010 6:24 pm

Thanks! Whats the best part of being a Harvard student? I still cant wrap my mind around my JR2, and just want to know does it sink in once reality bites? Do you frequently tell or avoid telling people where you go? and oh... how much do you get to see Boston? Alright I'll take a breath and let you all catch up.

Thanks again for doing this!

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Re: Harvard Student(s) Answering Your Questions

Postby DoubleChecks » Wed Dec 15, 2010 6:30 pm

4for44 wrote:Thanks! Whats the best part of being a Harvard student? I still cant wrap my mind around my JR2, and just want to know does it sink in once reality bites? Do you frequently tell or avoid telling people where you go? and oh... how much do you get to see Boston? Alright I'll take a breath and let you all catch up.

Thanks again for doing this!


best part besides learning the law? :lol: well, definitely not the IT or law school campus architecture...but the quality of professors and students is high. ive really enjoyed all my classes, instructors, and peers. genuinely helpful. oh and the harvard brand never ceases to amaze me. in one of my classes this semester, Chief Justice John Roberts came in and fielded a Q&A session for 30min :O starstruck lol. and i would not say that that is super rare (per se); you'll prob meet some person who is the #1 leading scholar/professional on x during your stay at harvard...prob meet a bunch of such ppl. thats always a neat feeling.

so at first i would avoid saying i got into harvard law or just say im going to cambridge (England? lol) as a 0L to not sound douchey. over time, i realized i actually sounded douchier by not saying it (as it makes them ask and pry for it...before they make some 'original' response like "oh Harvard? Never heard of it!"), so now i just respond to their questions just like how id respond to any other question.

in the beginning, they have some events to show you around boston and stuff, but really the school itself doesnt showcase boston that much. however, the T is cheap, and boston is always just a few stops away. so you can see as much of boston as you want...prob a lot of it imo cuz the place is SMALL lol, but im from TX, so i might be biased :P

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Re: Harvard Student(s) Answering Your Questions

Postby 4for44 » Wed Dec 15, 2010 6:33 pm

DoubleChecks wrote: Chief Justice John Roberts came in and fielded a Q&A session for 30min


:shock:

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Re: Harvard Student(s) Answering Your Questions

Postby GeePee » Wed Dec 15, 2010 6:36 pm

4for44 wrote:Thanks! Whats the best part of being a Harvard student?
Honestly, there are a ton of benefits to being a Harvard student. The first is that you have a pretty proud and dedicated alumni base that is pretty much everywhere, and willing to come out of the woodwork to help you out. The second thing, my torts professor (Jonathan Zittrain, the faculty is another perk) said better than I ever could on our last day of class, "So you've been here for a semester now, and you realize that there is nothing magic about a Harvard Law School degree. Fortunately, the rest of the world is still largely under that impression."

I think that pretty much sums it up. The student body is a lot more "normal" than you'd expect in a lot of ways, and the community is great in and of itself, but a lot of what is great about Harvard is what everyone else thinks about Harvard.

How much do you get to see Boston?
Unfortunately, not all that often, and I regret that. Boston is a great city, but there's enough around Cambridge itself that heading into Boston proper isn't generally the most prudent decision. I usually try to use people visiting as an excuse to get out and see the city, but it's hard to do so otherwise.

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Re: Harvard Student(s) Answering Your Questions

Postby GeePee » Wed Dec 15, 2010 9:45 pm

I'll bump this since there are likely a lot more people home now, as opposed to the middle of the afternoon.

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Re: Harvard Student(s) Answering Your Questions

Postby rv11 » Fri Dec 17, 2010 11:30 pm

What do you recommend in terms of housing options? I really don't want to have to live in a dorm again as I'd like my own kitchen/bathroom, but Gropius seems so convenient and cheap.

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Re: Harvard Student(s) Answering Your Questions

Postby GeePee » Sat Dec 18, 2010 1:58 am

Depends what you value.

If you want convenience and value, Gropius is the best you're going to get. My friends that live in Gropius love that they are right there for 8:20 classes, and are in the neighborhood of the school to meet other people when they need to do so.

If you want the nicest stuff possible, HRES studios and 1 BRs are some of the nicest housing you can find, but at a premium. Also, if you can nab a spot in Terry Terrace or one of the other very close buildings, it's right across from the law school. That's nice.

If you want some combination of value and luxury, then you can find some very good deals on your own. This is a bit of a hit or miss process, and only really starts in about May since there won't be any apartments for Sept. 1 until about that time (classes start ~9/12 this year, so you won't have the 8/1 or 9/1 debacle that we had last year). However, if you're willing to put in some legwork, these deals can be quite nice, and occasionally even cheaper than Gropius if you're willing to find a roommate.

However, there are some tradeoffs to bargain-hunting:
- You may have to resign yourself to living a bit farther away. There are some great deals in the neighborhood of Porter and Inman Squares up in Somerville, but they're a 10-15 minute walk.

- You won't be able to find a place for less than $1000 unless you're willing to live below ground level, or are willing to take up a roommate.

- Some of the places with the best deals sell through brokers, which is generally the equivalent of adding $75-100/person/month.


That said, I still found that the best choice for me was to live off-campus. Even though you probably won't get to cook quite as much as you think (there is a good amount of free food at HLS, and many nights you'll be busy enough that there won't be enough time to go home and cook), it's still quite nice to have a good kitchen for a homecooked meal once in a while.

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Re: Harvard Student(s) Answering Your Questions

Postby nygrrrl » Sat Dec 18, 2010 2:02 am

Just stopping in to say, HEY GEEPEE!!!!!
How are you? Last one was today, no?
Still can't quite believe that we just finished our first semester...
really feels like yesterday that we were waiting on LSAT scores.
Have a great holiday! :mrgreen:

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Re: Harvard Student(s) Answering Your Questions

Postby rv11 » Sat Dec 18, 2010 5:59 pm

GeePee wrote:Depends what you value.

If you want convenience and value, Gropius is the best you're going to get. My friends that live in Gropius love that they are right there for 8:20 classes, and are in the neighborhood of the school to meet other people when they need to do so.

If you want the nicest stuff possible, HRES studios and 1 BRs are some of the nicest housing you can find, but at a premium. Also, if you can nab a spot in Terry Terrace or one of the other very close buildings, it's right across from the law school. That's nice.

If you want some combination of value and luxury, then you can find some very good deals on your own. This is a bit of a hit or miss process, and only really starts in about May since there won't be any apartments for Sept. 1 until about that time (classes start ~9/12 this year, so you won't have the 8/1 or 9/1 debacle that we had last year). However, if you're willing to put in some legwork, these deals can be quite nice, and occasionally even cheaper than Gropius if you're willing to find a roommate.

However, there are some tradeoffs to bargain-hunting:
- You may have to resign yourself to living a bit farther away. There are some great deals in the neighborhood of Porter and Inman Squares up in Somerville, but they're a 10-15 minute walk.

- You won't be able to find a place for less than $1000 unless you're willing to live below ground level, or are willing to take up a roommate.

- Some of the places with the best deals sell through brokers, which is generally the equivalent of adding $75-100/person/month.


That said, I still found that the best choice for me was to live off-campus. Even though you probably won't get to cook quite as much as you think (there is a good amount of free food at HLS, and many nights you'll be busy enough that there won't be enough time to go home and cook), it's still quite nice to have a good kitchen for a homecooked meal once in a while.


Thanks for this great insight! I assume that deposits for HRES and on-campus housing are due well before the off-campus search even begins? I can't imagine the school would allow its housing to be a backup plan in case of off-campus failure. And I suppose I could get over the no kitchen thing but a single bed will be a tough sell...




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