Not Your Father's Harvard Law School, continued
Tamar Ezer '01 didn't arrive at HLS intent on a career in human rights. But during her first year she joined the student-run Human Rights Journal and took an introductory human rights course. Over the past two summers, she worked for the ACLU of Southern California and the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights, where she examined policing in New York. Now, she's wrapping up her term as editor in chief of the Harvard Environmental Law Review and looking for a job as a civil and human rights litigator after finishing up two years of clerkships.
"Human rights combines what I find most meaningful about law," Ezer said. "It protects people and has an international dimension."
Other new fields continue to emerge, including Internet law and animal rights, which will return next year as a course for the second time. Greater depth also extends to traditional fields like corporations. Dean Clark says he sometimes wishes he could return today as a student to take advantage of current courses on international finance, mergers and acquisitions, or securities regulation.
"I'd go wild," Clark said. "It's a wonderful feast."
Beyond the Borders
Whether it's an international finance or comparative law class, more courses are broadening their focus beyond U.S. borders. HLS now offers courses on the laws of China, the European Union, and Japan as well as on international organizations such as the WTO. There are separate research centers on European, Islamic, and East Asian law.
Yet Professor William Alford '77, director of the East Asian Legal Studies Program, says it's not just regional specialists who need to understand foreign legal systems.
"The old boundaries in academia have broken down," he said.
Alford says more faculty members take an interest in international affairs and more J.D. students arrive at the School after living or working abroad. About 4 percent of J.D. students are from outside the United States.
Young In '01 quickly found a use for what she learned while taking a course on Islamic law. In met Malaysia's attorney general and senate president on the Asia Law Society's spring break trip this year.
"I was able to ask questions about how their civil and Islamic legal systems overlapped," In said.
She visited Japan and Thailand on previous law society trips and worked last summer at Cravath, Swaine & Moore's Hong Kong office. After graduation, she plans to join a Hong Kong or Singapore law firm, and she eventually hopes to work for the United Nations or another nongovernmental organization.
"I do feel like I came out of law school with a better understanding of lots of legal systems," In said.
Think of it as Harvard Law's own teaching hospital. Each year, nearly 300 students take one of more than 30 classes with a clinical component, ranging from a government lawyer placement in the U.S. attorney's office to practice in the field of disability law. Another 100 do simulated practice experience in the Trial Advocacy Workshop. Before clinical courses were first offered in the mid-1970s, students could get real-life work experience only in organizations such as the Legal Aid Bureau or the Harvard Defenders.
This spring, Julie Zwibelman '02 juggled five clients at the Hale and Dorr Legal Services Center in Jamaica Plain. She helped tenants in Dorchester and Roxbury stave off eviction and eliminate hazardous lead paint from their apartments. All that for three credits. Next fall she's coming back for more. "I just really enjoy what I'm doing," Zwibelman said. "It gives me the opportunity to work with great lawyers and get a lot of legal experience and exposure."
Zwibelman did a previous clinical placement at the Harvard Civil Rights Project and plans to return to the housing department of the Hale and Dorr center next year to work on discrimination cases.
Thirteen weeks working in a clinical setting doesn't transform students into seasoned attorneys, says Legal Services Center Director Jeanne Charn '70. But she says students can gain confidence, learn how to develop relationships with clients, and figure out how to approach actual legal problems.
"If we're successful, you have a questioning, critical attitude," said Charn, who founded the Legal Services Center with her husband, Professor Gary Bellow '60, in 1979.
Unlike many law students, Zena Yoslov '01 actually enjoys working with numbers. She majored in economics during
"We look at problems not in terms of do we need to solve this or not, but in terms of what are we willing to give up," Yoslov said. "[Law and economics] approaches things as trade-offs."
More students and faculty are taking interdisciplinary approaches to law, looking to solve legal questions through the lens of economics and other social sciences, according to Professor Kip Viscusi.
Viscusi himself examines environmental law questions using statistics and teaches a Behavioral Law and Economics seminar that researches how juries decide damage awards.
"It's a major tool," said Viscusi, who heads the Empirical Studies Program. "You can actually resolve debates by looking at how the real world works."
Dean Clark says the School's Law and Economics Program prepares students for careers in academia or in practice.
After graduation, Yoslov will practice trusts and estates law at Sullivan and Cromwell in New York. "I had a more complete education," she said. "It gives you a different perspective, a different way of thinking."
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The More Things Change...: Quiz a graduate today and one from half a century ago, and they'll both recall a handful of cases that have remained in casebooks for decades. Read more...
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