Harvard 2Ls Taking Questions

A forum for applicants and admitted students to ask law students and graduates about law school and the practice of law.
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ph14
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Harvard 2Ls Taking Questions

Postby ph14 » Thu Sep 15, 2011 10:28 pm

This site was extremely helpful to me in preparing my applications, so i'd like to help out by answering any questions about Harvard, 1L or law school in general, or about the application process.

Fire away.
Last edited by ph14 on Fri Jan 18, 2013 8:55 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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DoubleChecks
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Re: Harvard 1L Taking Questions

Postby DoubleChecks » Thu Sep 15, 2011 10:51 pm

I'm willing to contribute to this thread as well, but as a 2L post-EIP, etc. And as those that know me on this board, I pretty much don't protect my anonymity much at all haha.

delusional
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Re: Harvard 1L Taking Questions

Postby delusional » Thu Sep 15, 2011 11:29 pm

DoubleChecks wrote:I'm willing to contribute to this thread as well, but as a 2L post-EIP, etc. And as those that know me on this board, I pretty much don't protect my anonymity much at all haha.

Should I wait till someone asks a question before offering to join? :)
You and GeePee have been really helpful in the Harvard discussions. I find myself wondering if it's one of you guys when I hear someone being helpful on campus. (I also saw a guy the other day who kind of looked like Vanwinkle.)

You should have a TLS meet with the jd14s. (or at least those who are not embarrassed to come out of the closet)

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DoubleChecks
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Re: Harvard 1L Taking Questions

Postby DoubleChecks » Thu Sep 15, 2011 11:33 pm

delusional wrote:
DoubleChecks wrote:I'm willing to contribute to this thread as well, but as a 2L post-EIP, etc. And as those that know me on this board, I pretty much don't protect my anonymity much at all haha.

Should I wait till someone asks a question before offering to join? :)
You and GeePee have been really helpful in the Harvard discussions. I find myself wondering if it's one of you guys when I hear someone being helpful on campus. (I also saw a guy the other day who kind of looked like Vanwinkle.)

You should have a TLS meet with the jd14s. (or at least those who are not embarrassed to come out of the closet)


lol I wouldn't mind that at all, and I sort of do through the journal and affinity group that I'm in hahaha -- I should just start asking all 1Ls, "Do you TLS?"

horrorbusiness
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Re: Harvard 1L Taking Questions

Postby horrorbusiness » Sat Sep 17, 2011 1:55 am

trivial, but im curious - whats the average harvard law student look like?

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ph14
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Re: Harvard 1L Taking Questions

Postby ph14 » Sat Sep 17, 2011 8:10 am

horrorbusiness wrote:trivial, but im curious - whats the average harvard law student look like?


Overall, the student body is pretty attractive. You probably would be pleasantly surprised if you visited and sat in on a class. I'm guessing a combination of attractiveness correlating with intelligence, and the people here being hard working enough to take care of themselves.

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Re: Harvard 1L Taking Questions

Postby freestallion » Sat Sep 17, 2011 8:37 am

I know it is primarily a numbers game, but still, any tips on how to stand out in the application process? Did you target Harvard with your PS at all?

My numbers are not spectacular, but on LSN I saw that some people with my numbers did get waitlisted. If I am lucky enough to get waitlisted, any ideas on whether a lot of people are accepted off the waitlist/how to get off the waitlist?

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ph14
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Re: Harvard 1L Taking Questions

Postby ph14 » Sat Sep 17, 2011 8:55 am

freestallion wrote:I know it is primarily a numbers game, but still, any tips on how to stand out in the application process? Did you target Harvard with your PS at all?

My numbers are not spectacular, but on LSN I saw that some people with my numbers did get waitlisted. If I am lucky enough to get waitlisted, any ideas on whether a lot of people are accepted off the waitlist/how to get off the waitlist?


In my opinion, there isn't really any hidden knowledge of how to stand out in the application process. Make sure you have an application that is (1) interesting and (2) professional (free of any mistakes). Follow the general advice and guides from TLS. I'm not quite sure targeting Harvard in your PS would be beneficial unless you actually had some good reasons why you wanted to come here besides just "It's Harvard" or "It's a high ranked school." But if you had some genuine interest in a clinic, journal, professor, etc. that is logical given your background, you could maneuver your PS into targeting Harvard.

In my cycle, last year, quite a bit of people got accepted off the waitlist. I got the impression that H uses their waitlist more, proportionally, than at S or Y. I think once you are on the waitlist getting off is just going to be luck.

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DoubleChecks
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Re: Harvard 1L Taking Questions

Postby DoubleChecks » Sat Sep 17, 2011 10:47 am

ph14 wrote:
freestallion wrote:I know it is primarily a numbers game, but still, any tips on how to stand out in the application process? Did you target Harvard with your PS at all?

My numbers are not spectacular, but on LSN I saw that some people with my numbers did get waitlisted. If I am lucky enough to get waitlisted, any ideas on whether a lot of people are accepted off the waitlist/how to get off the waitlist?


In my opinion, there isn't really any hidden knowledge of how to stand out in the application process. Make sure you have an application that is (1) interesting and (2) professional (free of any mistakes). Follow the general advice and guides from TLS. I'm not quite sure targeting Harvard in your PS would be beneficial unless you actually had some good reasons why you wanted to come here besides just "It's Harvard" or "It's a high ranked school." But if you had some genuine interest in a clinic, journal, professor, etc. that is logical given your background, you could maneuver your PS into targeting Harvard.

In my cycle, last year, quite a bit of people got accepted off the waitlist. I got the impression that H uses their waitlist more, proportionally, than at S or Y. I think once you are on the waitlist getting off is just going to be luck.


I agree w/ pretty much everything said in this post. Have an overall package you are proud of and depicts you as a person. A common mistake I see people make in writing the PS is that they may it too focused. Give me interesting over technical any day for a PS! (unless your goals are VERY narrow and specific -- and even then, still give me interesting)

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DoubleChecks
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Re: Harvard 1L Taking Questions

Postby DoubleChecks » Sat Sep 17, 2011 10:48 am

ph14 wrote:
horrorbusiness wrote:trivial, but im curious - whats the average harvard law student look like?


Overall, the student body is pretty attractive. You probably would be pleasantly surprised if you visited and sat in on a class. I'm guessing a combination of attractiveness correlating with intelligence, and the people here being hard working enough to take care of themselves.


I guess it does not change from year to year. All the horror stories I heard about law school students' lack of attractiveness were just simply unfounded. +1 to ph14 again lol.

delusional
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Re: Harvard 1L Taking Questions

Postby delusional » Sun Sep 18, 2011 12:24 am

freestallion wrote:I know it is primarily a numbers game, but still, any tips on how to stand out in the application process? Did you target Harvard with your PS at all?

My numbers are not spectacular, but on LSN I saw that some people with my numbers did get waitlisted. If I am lucky enough to get waitlisted, any ideas on whether a lot of people are accepted off the waitlist/how to get off the waitlist?

I don't know how qualified I am to answer this because my numbers were good by LSN standards, but my other facets kind of put me on the fence.

I think I overcame this with a genuine and unique personal statement. My resume was limited to small town stuff, and I wrote my PS about trying to transcend that. My main challenge was balancing my motivation for seeking more with seeing my experience as positive.

I don't know if this makes sense, but unique experience is not enough to have a great PS. You also need to react uniquely to the unique circumstances.

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ph14
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Re: Harvard 1L Taking Questions

Postby ph14 » Fri Oct 07, 2011 8:41 pm

Just wanted to keep this on the first page for this year's applicants.

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ph14
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Re: Harvard 1L Taking Questions

Postby ph14 » Mon Dec 19, 2011 5:07 pm

Bumping this now that i'm done with finals. I will respond to all questions, but reserve the right to not answer.

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Blessedassurance
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Re: Harvard 1L Taking Questions

Postby Blessedassurance » Mon Dec 19, 2011 5:13 pm

Do you know what dates the admissions office will be closed for the holidays?

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ph14
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Re: Harvard 1L Taking Questions

Postby ph14 » Mon Dec 19, 2011 5:15 pm

Blessedassurance wrote:Do you know what dates the admissions office will be closed for the holidays?


Not sure, but I think career services is open for the rest of the week and then closes until the New Year, so i'm guessing it's probably the same.

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annyong
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Re: Harvard 1L Taking Questions

Postby annyong » Mon Dec 19, 2011 8:06 pm

Thanks for answering questions, hope your exams went well! How stressful was it/how crazy did your section turn into? Was it what you were expecting or better/worse?

I'm pretty much sold on Harvard and I've heard great things about the atmosphere and classes from this forum, I'm just pretty debt averse and even at Harvard it makes me nervous! If you can chime in - what has your experience as a 1L been with budgets, aid, etc. and how do you feel about Harvard helping you secure employment so far? Is there a sense of trepidation from your classmates or friends about the debt burden?

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DoubleChecks
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Re: Harvard 1L Taking Questions

Postby DoubleChecks » Mon Dec 19, 2011 8:32 pm

annyong wrote:Thanks for answering questions, hope your exams went well! How stressful was it/how crazy did your section turn into? Was it what you were expecting or better/worse?

I'm pretty much sold on Harvard and I've heard great things about the atmosphere and classes from this forum, I'm just pretty debt averse and even at Harvard it makes me nervous! If you can chime in - what has your experience as a 1L been with budgets, aid, etc. and how do you feel about Harvard helping you secure employment so far? Is there a sense of trepidation from your classmates or friends about the debt burden?


A bit different as I am a 2L and not a 1L, so adjust accordingly lol.

I'm from the south and while I am not a huge fan of the northeast, the atmosphere at Harvard has been great. I have definitely come to enjoy law school more than I thought I would, and overall enjoy my classes more than I did in ugrad. As far as HLS helping us secure employment...I've been a pretty big proponent on this board about how great OCI was for our year (at least from everyone I talked to)...and I have a pretty large sample size that suggests grades are not what hold anyone back (excluding possibly REALLY bad grades) from biglaw at almost any firm (save the MOST selective..., i.e. Wachtell, a bit Cravath, Quinn Emmanuel, Boies, W&C, etc.). Bidding strategy, market selection (ex: Chicago maybe, or small markets that aren't doing so well), and interviewing skills were what really decided employment. I would greatly emphasize the last one. Either way, in 98% of the cases, the Harvard name/any grades only helped...not hurt. In fact, I even know of some people with more than one LP getting biglaw (though I am also sure there are those with multiple LPs that did not from EIP). So from that perspective, in my year at least, I never sensed any trepidation about the debt burden.

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ph14
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Re: Harvard 1L Taking Questions

Postby ph14 » Mon Dec 19, 2011 9:34 pm

annyong wrote:Thanks for answering questions, hope your exams went well! How stressful was it/how crazy did your section turn into? Was it what you were expecting or better/worse?

I'm pretty much sold on Harvard and I've heard great things about the atmosphere and classes from this forum, I'm just pretty debt averse and even at Harvard it makes me nervous! If you can chime in - what has your experience as a 1L been with budgets, aid, etc. and how do you feel about Harvard helping you secure employment so far? Is there a sense of trepidation from your classmates or friends about the debt burden?


Thanks a lot. Exams were pretty stressful, i'm not going to lie, I think that's just the nature of 1st semester law school finals at every school (except perhaps Yale). But my section remained very cool throughout. Everyone took it seriously but there was no animosity or people acting unfriendly. I definitely think the H/P grading system helped a lot. Overall, I think it was about what I expected, I think reading on TLS ahead of time and talking to upperclassmen gave me a pretty good idea of what to expect.

I wouldn't stress too much about the debt from Harvard-- while Doublechecks can speak to the job prospects a bit better than I can, everything I've heard and experienced is inline with his experience. I took HLS at sticker over some pretty solid scholarships and I'm not regretting it-- and I don't expect to. Office of Career Services (OCS) and Office of Public Interest (OPIA) seem okay, I think they could be better in someways but it's not a huge deal. It's going to be mainly up to you to find your employment, at least for your 1L summer, but OCS/OPIA is fairly helpful in figuring out where you want to apply and how to prepare a cover letter and resume. But I don't think their advice has really been anything you couldn't get from TLS to be honest.

As far as budgets and stuff, Cambridge is expensive, but it's possible to live here on a budget. No sense of trepidation from my friends really regarding the debt load. People generally seem not worried about employment, and a good amount of people want to go into public interest as well.

I wouldn't worry too much about paying sticker here, but of course if you got a full-ride from a T-14 you should seriously consider it. Overall i'm very happy with my decision to come here.

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DoubleChecks
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Re: Harvard 1L Taking Questions

Postby DoubleChecks » Mon Dec 19, 2011 9:57 pm

ph14 wrote:Thanks a lot. Exams were pretty stressful, i'm not going to lie, I think that's just the nature of 1st semester law school finals at every school (except perhaps Yale). But my section remained very cool throughout. Everyone took it seriously but there was no animosity or people acting unfriendly. I definitely think the H/P grading system helped a lot. Overall, I think it was about what I expected, I think reading on TLS ahead of time and talking to upperclassmen gave me a pretty good idea of what to expect.

I wouldn't stress too much about the debt from Harvard-- while Doublechecks can speak to the job prospects a bit better than I can, everything I've heard and experienced is inline with his experience. I took HLS at sticker over some pretty solid scholarships and I'm not regretting it-- and I don't expect to. Office of Career Services (OCS) and Office of Public Interest (OPIA) seem okay, I think they could be better in someways but it's not a huge deal. It's going to be mainly up to you to find your employment, at least for your 1L summer, but OCS/OPIA is fairly helpful in figuring out where you want to apply and how to prepare a cover letter and resume. But I don't think their advice has really been anything you couldn't get from TLS to be honest.

As far as budgets and stuff, Cambridge is expensive, but it's possible to live here on a budget. No sense of trepidation from my friends really regarding the debt load. People generally seem not worried about employment, and a good amount of people want to go into public interest as well.

I wouldn't worry too much about paying sticker here, but of course if you got a full-ride from a T-14 you should seriously consider it. Overall i'm very happy with my decision to come here.


You're not in Section 1 are you? lol

And regarding OCS, they are competent and do a decent job. Nothing mind blowing, though their resume critique is pretty useful. They are, however, lightyears ahead of the type of advising/counseling you would expect to get in ugrad :P (or at least from my own personal experience of ugrad counselors lol). I will second ph14 that I did not learn anything from OCS (besides possibly some very specific biglaw etiquette questions) that I did not already learn from being on TLS haha.

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Re: Harvard 1L Taking Questions

Postby Jake Barnes » Tue Dec 20, 2011 5:30 pm

I'm also a 1L, and I registered to contribute to this thread. I found TLS helpful when I was choosing schools, so this is me giving back.

Regarding finals:

-Yes, they were stressful. You can expect to work about 80 hours a week while preparing for them. However, that's also the kind of week you can expect when preparing for trial or oral argument, or in closing a deal. Lawyers work long hours, and you start doing that 1L year.

-The people in my section no doubt worked hard to achieve their best, but I never got the impression they were competing against each other. There is a camaraderie there that makes the experience more of a rousing test of character than a hellish cut-throat ordeal. 2Ls have told me that some sections are different. Whether you have the misfortune of being placed in the "gunner" section is a matter of luck.

Regarding budgets, aid:

-Cambridge is pricey, but not as expensive as D.C. (where I came from). You might be shocked at apartment prices if you're coming from Omaha, or Atlanta. Harvard gives sufficient financial aid to allow you to live comfortably, if not extravagantly. You should not have to take out private loans.

-I got a small grant from Harvard, but it's a pittance compared to offers I had from other schools. I think Harvard is one of the very few schools worth the sticker price. In a profession that cares a great deal about prestige (rightly or wrongly), Harvard is the safer bet.

-OCS and OPIA have been tremendously helpful in the 1L summer job search. That said, you're mostly on your own; it's not like fall of 2L when legions of employers storm campus and try to get as many Harvard students as they can. In the 1L search, as in most things in life, you have to make it happen. That means sending resumes and cover letters to 20+ employers, following up, hoping something works out by spring. Career services will help you craft these materials and target the right employers. It's a messy process, but it seems to work out for most people. Literally everyone I've spoken to was satisfied with their 1L job.


I'll stick around through this week to answer other questions that come up.

acrossthelake
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Re: Harvard 1L Taking Questions

Postby acrossthelake » Tue Dec 20, 2011 5:38 pm

annyong wrote:Thanks for answering questions, hope your exams went well! How stressful was it/how crazy did your section turn into? Was it what you were expecting or better/worse?

I'm pretty much sold on Harvard and I've heard great things about the atmosphere and classes from this forum, I'm just pretty debt averse and even at Harvard it makes me nervous! If you can chime in - what has your experience as a 1L been with budgets, aid, etc. and how do you feel about Harvard helping you secure employment so far? Is there a sense of trepidation from your classmates or friends about the debt burden?


ph and I were in different sections so I'll speak to mine.

My section was really nice and helpful. It was very communal. It was less competitive than expected.

Re: Jobs. My financial aid sucked, but I have a personal situation that mucks it up that won't apply to most people.

In terms of employment, I'm still in the 1L job search. I've managed to make connections with alumni already, though, and one put in a good word for me at one of the firms I applied for, so I'm crossing my fingers that my 1L grades are good enough to secure me the job. Most 1Ls do public interest(70% I think?) and there's a fund to cover you for the summer.

Not yet, but they're sort of wide-eyed 1Ls. I know 3Ls who are still job searching after striking out at EIP (with median grades). I know others who are big-law secured with worse grades, so it's an interview skills/bidlist thing. LIPP is pretty nice though---your debt will be manageable with it as long as you secure a law job.


Also, I came nowhere close to 80 hour weeks during finals. I tend to aim for the a few hours of intense focus and lots of sleep for memory consolidation strategy over the many hours of studying idea. We'll see how I feel about that post-grade release, though I will say that at no point for any of my exams did I feel like I didn't know the material. If I don't do as well, it will be because I didn't apply it as well, but I'm not sure more studying would have helped me there.

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DoubleChecks
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Re: Harvard 1L Taking Questions

Postby DoubleChecks » Tue Dec 20, 2011 6:27 pm

acrossthelake wrote:
annyong wrote:Thanks for answering questions, hope your exams went well! How stressful was it/how crazy did your section turn into? Was it what you were expecting or better/worse?

I'm pretty much sold on Harvard and I've heard great things about the atmosphere and classes from this forum, I'm just pretty debt averse and even at Harvard it makes me nervous! If you can chime in - what has your experience as a 1L been with budgets, aid, etc. and how do you feel about Harvard helping you secure employment so far? Is there a sense of trepidation from your classmates or friends about the debt burden?


ph and I were in different sections so I'll speak to mine.

My section was really nice and helpful. It was very communal. It was less competitive than expected.

Re: Jobs. My financial aid sucked, but I have a personal situation that mucks it up that won't apply to most people.

In terms of employment, I'm still in the 1L job search. I've managed to make connections with alumni already, though, and one put in a good word for me at one of the firms I applied for, so I'm crossing my fingers that my 1L grades are good enough to secure me the job. Most 1Ls do public interest(70% I think?) and there's a fund to cover you for the summer.

Not yet, but they're sort of wide-eyed 1Ls. I know 3Ls who are still job searching after striking out at EIP (with median grades). I know others who are big-law secured with worse grades, so it's an interview skills/bidlist thing. LIPP is pretty nice though---your debt will be manageable with it as long as you secure a law job.


Also, I came nowhere close to 80 hour weeks during finals. I tend to aim for the a few hours of intense focus and lots of sleep for memory consolidation strategy over the many hours of studying idea. We'll see how I feel about that post-grade release, though I will say that at no point for any of my exams did I feel like I didn't know the material. If I don't do as well, it will be because I didn't apply it as well, but I'm not sure more studying would have helped me there.


I will second that the ones I do know without jobs tend to be 3Ls rather than 2Ls (my year) -- though the same underlying themes (not usually grades but interviewing skills/bidding prowess/etc.) remain. Hiring might be up compared to last year -- that was the impression I got...but I guess I won't know for sure until OCS releases the Fall 2011 numbers lol.

And as far as studying goes, I will agree that that varies a lot from person to person. Some will study a lot, some will study very little. Overall, I would just say your studying habits will be like what you did in undergrad...kicked up a few notches. The atmosphere, however, is not competitive. I have never felt like my classmates were anything BUT helpful (note: in my year, section 6 was known as the gunner section -- that wasn't my section however).

The last issue I will speak to is the Harvard name prestige...when it comes to legal employment and out. It has actually carried a lot more weight than I thought it would, and is definitely a strong, non-tangible asset. In the legal world, I'd put it only second to Yale (and not even in all markets -- in some smaller ones, HLS would be given more weight). Outside, well, then obviously an even bigger difference lol.

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Jake Barnes
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Re: Harvard 1L Taking Questions

Postby Jake Barnes » Wed Dec 21, 2011 4:51 pm

To the extent that the "80" number scares anyone, I should note that I did not begin outlining until the very end. In retrospect, this may not have been a great plan of action. You put the time in sooner or later, but spreading it over a longer period of time obviously has its advantages.

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DoubleChecks
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Re: Harvard 1L Taking Questions

Postby DoubleChecks » Wed Dec 21, 2011 4:55 pm

Jake Barnes wrote:To the extent that the "80" number scares anyone, I should note that I did not begin outlining until the very end. In retrospect, this may not have been a great plan of action. You put the time in sooner or later, but spreading it over a longer period of time obviously has its advantages.


While I do agree that spreading it out has its advantages over back piling it, I would still stand by my original comment that I think it will come down to how you are used to studying/how much work you have put in in your academic career......kicked up a notch haha. It certainly will not be LESS in law school, but it will vary from person to person. I know plenty of people who had all nighters (or close to it) during reading week, worked till after dinner on most nights throughout the semester and briefed every case well into 2L year, and I also know people who never studied (or barely -- like a day or two before the exam; and yes, above median grades for them too), and everything in between. It comes down to what you're comfortable with and what works for you.

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Re: Harvard 1L Taking Questions

Postby acrossthelake » Wed Dec 21, 2011 5:35 pm

DoubleChecks wrote:
Jake Barnes wrote:To the extent that the "80" number scares anyone, I should note that I did not begin outlining until the very end. In retrospect, this may not have been a great plan of action. You put the time in sooner or later, but spreading it over a longer period of time obviously has its advantages.


While I do agree that spreading it out has its advantages over back piling it, I would still stand by my original comment that I think it will come down to how you are used to studying/how much work you have put in in your academic career......kicked up a notch haha. It certainly will not be LESS in law school, but it will vary from person to person. I know plenty of people who had all nighters (or close to it) during reading week, worked till after dinner on most nights throughout the semester and briefed every case well into 2L year, and I also know people who never studied (or barely -- like a day or two before the exam; and yes, above median grades for them too), and everything in between. It comes down to what you're comfortable with and what works for you.


I actually found it easier than some semesters of undergrad. But I had some pretty horrible semesters in undergrad where I really overcommitted. I've had a general rule since undergrad though that I don't do work when I'm really tired or sleepy, but when I do feel energized or alert I must spend that time doing work/studying. If I'm tired and it's past 10, I'll just go to bed rather than stay up and study. I'll do tedious chores instead of studying if I feel too tired to focus. I've generally found since I switched to that rule in life that my performance has gone up, as well as my general quality of life, despite spending less time working and more time sleeping. We'll see how my grades bear out though.

I also didn't outline because I don't learn that way (and my civ pro prof agreed with me that he felt it was a waste of time) and dedicated my time to studying my own way and doing every single practice test with my study group.




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