Thursday, February 26, 2009


So a dear friend of mine from Austin was just admitted to Harvard Law, and even though she seems highly inclined to come here, I've been making a big show of trying to convince her. 
Partly, this involves offering to house her when she comes for Admitted Students Weekend in March. But it also involves sending her e-mails and text messages whenever something happens that I think she should add to an ongoing list of (mostly silly) reasons to attend HLS. I'm really enjoying myself with this, so I thought I'd share the reasons I've come up with so far:

#1 is, of course, me. (These come in order of when I thought of them, not importance. I'm definitely not the top reason to come to Harvard, just the one I thought of first.)

#2 is free coffee.

#3 is Bob Slate, the amazing stationery store in Harvard Square.

#4 is having classmates like mine. (Attached to this one was a hilarious e-mail from a guy in my section describing our intramural basketball team's recent victory over the section that creamed us in the 1L Cup last semester.)

#5 is the free snack cart the school sets up each Wednesday in hopes of making it up to us that a remote corner of campus is under construction.

#6 is how badly prestigious organizations want our students' free summer labor.

This has been a fun exercise, since it's so easy in the heat of my studies to get too tired, busy, or nonchalant to stop and be happy about where I go to school. I'm sure I'll come up with a ton more reasons, and maybe I'll update you when I do. (If you have any suggestions from reading this blog, feel free to let me know!)

Monday, February 23, 2009

Looking ahead, looking behind

I'm writing today from my new favorite cozy nook on campus. It's a cluster of orange velvet armchairs on the third floor of the library, which is really more of a balcony overlooking the lobby on the second floor. Since the big reading room is another floor up, hardly anyone stops here, and the little tables nearby with built-in chess boards make it a cute place to hang out between classes.
This has been another busy week- surprise, surprise! My search for a summer job has heated up, and I had my second interview last week- this time with a great organization called the Massachusetts Law Reform Institute (MLRI). The first interview, with Greater Boston Legal Services, didn't go too great. Blaming that on nerves, I decided to consider it a practice run for the MLRI interview, which I cared a little more about getting right. I loosened up a lot, and lo and behold, I did great- I got an offer for a second interview, with the lawyer who would actually be supervising me. I'm going back next Tuesday to meet her!

This interview business makes life a little crazy on top of all the brief writing, TAP work, journal meetings, and regular classes I've got going on. Everyone at HLS is basically expected to spend their summers working, and a lot of mechanisms are in place to help us find the best positions. A lot- probably most- students choose "summer associate" positions at law firms, which come right to campus to conduct interviews. Those of us interested in public interest fields like government, non-profits, NGOs etc. aren't so lucky- hence my recent "schlep" (as my interviewer put it) to MLRI's downtown Boston offices. But at least Harvard mitigates the other disadvantage of such internships, which is that they're usually unpaid, by providing $5,000 in Summer Public Interest Funding (SPIF) to those of us who take them.

I hope this Mass Law Reform job pans out, because I really liked their location, the people, and the fact that they keep two dogs in the office! But I've also been offered an interview with another division of Greater Boston Legal Services (the bad interview was Housing, this is Welfare) and will find out soon if I got one at the Massachusetts Attorney General's Office, too. These are all great organizations, so in the shocking event that I get more than one offer, deciding will be really hard. I will probably wish that only one had wanted me, but I'll also look back with relief on the days after that first GBLS interview, when I felt so afraid that I wouldn't get anything at all.

In the meantime, I have plenty to occupy my time. I still have my Property class this afternoon, for instance. But more exciting is the fact that Russell's birthday is today (happy birthday, Russell!) and we celebrated with pizza, beer, and Oscar-watching last night. I really enjoyed the show and was mostly happy about who won, and I was especially glad to see Russell feeling better after a weekend with a cold.

Also, it's a good thing he feels better, because our long-awaited SKI TRIP is coming up this Saturday! We're joining a social organization from Harvard on a bus up to Waterville Valley, New Hampshire, for a day. I've already had ski gear shipped here from my parents' various homes in Texas and bought waterproof pants for Russell, who had none because he's never been. This, of course, means he's even more excited than me.

Well, I should get going to Property, but I hope everyone is well. Wish me luck on the interviews (and skiing!) and good luck on whatever is ahead for you.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Break's over

So the spring semester is officially up and running, and I'm doing everything I can just to keep up.
For most of the past week, I've been fighting hard to juggle whole lot of extracurricular business I was not at all geared up for. You see, there's a strong temptation around here to get really confident as you start to adjust to new classes and settle into a manageable study routine. Two or three weeks in, you find yourself on top of your readings, making good impressions with a few comments in class, and you might think, "No problem, I can handle this! This is going to be easy." But you'd be wrong (read: I was wrong), because this is the very moment when all your (read: my) other commitments and responsibilities for the semester decide to kick into high gear.

This Monday, for instance, I was at school until 9 P.M. having a meeting with my TAP client followed by the final meeting of my Law, Medicine, and Ethics reading group. Last night I wrote, and today I sent off, an application for yet another summer internship- something had really, really better pan out soon. Tonight, I'm back at TAP for a training session on criminal records, which is forcing me to miss a screening of Charlie Wilson's War for my Leadership in the Public Sector class (good thing I've already seen it, but I wish I could again.) And tomorrow I need to meet with my partner for the Ames Moot Court Competition, which dominates the second semester of Legal Research and Writing. We're already up against our first deadline- a rough outline of the arguments in our written brief is due next Monday. But I need to finish my part early, because I may have two more meetings (not to mention classes!) that same day.

Whew! For a few days there, I was uncertain I was going to make it. But if the similarities between this semester and last hold true, this won't last forever. There will be pockets where I'd give anything to get home before dark just once a week, but others will be much more comfortable. And little comforts or reprieves will tend to crop up each time things threaten to get too bad.

That has definitely happened this week, and today in particular. First off, it's 56 degrees outside, which officially qualifies as GORGEOUS weather in Cambridge this time of year. I just went outside to send some mail in just a dress and a sweater. Amazing! It's literally been months.

Second, both my classes for today wound up being cancelled! First our Property professor announced that we would only meet Monday and Tuesday of this week. We were happy enough about that when, this morning, our Criminal Law professor also sent out an e-mail excusing himself because he isn't feeling well. I hope he feels better, and I wouldn't have minded going to his class, which is always so entertaining (I recently heard someone compare him to Dr. House from TV, and I can't say it's inaccurate- he even walks with a cane.) But it's much better having a day mid-week to fall back and regroup.

And last, but definitely not least, our first semester GRADES were finally released last night! I don't think I'll post them verbatim- this doesn't really seem like the place. But if you ask me, I'll probably tell you, because I'm perfectly happy with them all (and even pleasantly shocked with one in particular. If you spoke with me at all during finals week, you may be able to guess which!)

So, as they say on The West Wing: "Break's over!" But between this extra free time and my newly buoyed attitude, what could have been an ugly couple of weeks should actually be quite manageable. I hope similar blessings are coming your way, and that you'll all take care and keep in touch until I write again!