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 “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—and “While the Harvard name will open doors, students 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 littleconcerned 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 anatural 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.”
It’s “very easy to find a great group of friends” because people are “generally fun and good-humored (in addition to being extremely smart and accomplished).” There is a Bar Review every week, and “The student government and other organizations host happy hours and other social events.” While the size of the school means that students “wouldn’t say the school as a whole has a strong general sense of community,” it does provide a larger potential pool for friends, and students “are able to find a sense of community by joining various organizations.” Be careful—students often “overwhelm themselves with extracurricular activities.”
Students tend to be “quite liberal,” but “One of the biggest surprises at HLS is how acceptable it is to be a conservative,” as students here “tend to be tolerant and accepting of people despite their gender, race, religion, ethnicity, or sexual orientation.” “It’s very cooperative—there’s a definite feeling of ‘we’re all in this together,’” says a 1L.