Harvard Law School—perhaps you’ve heard of it?—is like the land of Oz for aspiring lawyers, where “anything you want exists.” Indeed, the school has plenty of funding for student scholarships, interests, and activities, and the opportunities for “public service, research and publication, faculty mentor relationships, editorial, moot court, or legal aid experience, and international study and service options are endless.” The “you name it, it’s on the menu” mentality is definitely present for most students, and humility can (understandably) be a bit short in supply. “Harvard is Harvard. This is…simply a reinforcing circle of virtue, i.e., you get brilliant professors, amazing students, interesting courses, great opportunities, attracting brilliant professors and amazing students, etc.”
The “abundance of resources” available here lends itself to excellent support for public interest law, including a formidable public interest advising group, who “do a lot to build the community.” “Though there’s a lot of pressure to take a firm job, the counselors at [the public interest office] do a heck of a job fighting back. They’ll chase you down in the hall and tell you it’s time to start applying for fellowships, clerkships, and jobs,” says a student. “When employers start cutting their recruiting classes, the last place they cut is HLS,” says another. Everyone agrees that the economy has taken its toll, though—the ice skating rink closed—still have to put in work and make sure that they are putting their best foot forward.”
Though each HLS class is hefty in size, it actually creates an “atmosphere of conversation and collaboration.” “Because our class is so big, there is always a critical mass for any interest, activity, or cause students want to pursue,” says a 2L. “I was a little concerned entering this school that its size would be intimidating or overwhelming, but in fact I’ve found that its size is one of its greatest strengths,” agrees a 1L.
As expected, the courses offered are top-notch, with “a lot of very random options” to diversify the curriculum, though many students wish there was “more emphasis on practical lawyering skills,” not to mention an alternative to the “arcane and mysterious” registration system. Though in recent years, a sizeable portion of the faculty has “fled to Washington, D.C., to work on Change,” students are “still terribly spoiled to have as many wonderful professors as we do.” According to a student, “O[bama] left us a couple of our best profs,” and plenty of “superstar” professors remain at Harvard, and “everyone is extremely accomplished and an expert in his/her field.” “Not everyone is a natural teacher,” but “most of them are approachable and have interesting insights into the law (and many other areas).” There are also many research assistant and student writing opportunities offered.
The administration is “very flexible and willing to work with students as circumstances arise,” and the school “really strives to please students, even in tough economic times.” In 2012, a new academic building opened with the Caspersen Student Center and new classroom space that “are nicely equipped,” research facilities “could not be better,” and the library—the largest law library in the world, by the way—is “huge and lovely, with a staggering quantity of books.” In other words, don’t come to this corner of Boston if you’re looking for the entire package of “sunshine, butterflies and architectural triumphs”—”There are reasons to come here; aesthetic bliss is not one of them.”