Here's What It Was Like To Go To Harvard Law

Editor’s note: This post was originally an answer to the question, “How is Harvard Law School?” posted on Quora. We have republished it with permission from the author.
From my perspective, a question like this is difficult to answer because few of us go to more than 1 law school and therefore it is impossible to make a very accurate comparison.

Also, I went to law school in 1994 so really everything I have to say is super-dated.

But my kids are asleep and my wife is at Zumba, so here’s my waxing nostalgic answer:

1. Harvard Law School was very large. This was good in that you could find all types of people and I felt very few people lacked friends, but it was bad in that you could easily get lost in the system.

2. The reputation of Harvard Law School was very helpful professionally when I started out. I had good 1L and 2L summer offers. While I was there it felt very competitive during recruiting season but looking back, the overwhelming majority of us got offers from top tier firms. Also when we were doing events like the APALSA conference or trips to Asia it was not very difficult to get firms to sponsor us and defray all of our costs. And when we went to Taiwan we ended up having meetings with both Ma Ying-jeou and Chen Shui-bian for no particular reason other than us asking.

Here’s us with then Mayor Chen of Taipei.

Here’s us with then Minister of Justice Ma.

3. I had some fairly well known professors (Laurence Tribe for con law, Alan Dershowitz for crim law, Professor Elizabeth Warren for secured transactions) and some not so well known professors but I found them all good teachers that would make time for you if you were proactive in trying to see them (which I did better than some students but far worse than others). Because the school is big and classes are large if you just show up to lecture and never show your face in office hours you are not going to get to know your professors very well at all.

Here is Professor Laurence Tribe.

Here’s us with Professor Dershowitz.

4. There were some people that were pretty full of themselves (some of them deservedly so, some not so much) and my class (just like I think every class did) had the weird incidents of application only study groups and people allegedly hoarding books from the library to hinder other students, but honestly most people were both smart and nice.

This is probably true of any school, not just Harvard and not just law school, but most of the value I took from HLS are from the friendships that I made rather than the materials I learned. I wish I had taken time to get to know more of my classmates and to keep in closer touch with many of them, since lots of them have gone on to do very interesting things.

As an add on, get to know the foreign LLMs. In addition to just being interesting folk with different perspectives, many of them go on to be quite prominent in their home jurisdictions and that is always helpful.

Here’s my 1L study group. 1 of us is now a partner at a mid-tier firm, another is an MD for an investment bank, 1 is an orthopedic surgeon and 1 is general counsel of a private company. We’re all friendly though some of us don’t keep in touch regularly.

P.S. — Also, at the time, our gym sucked. Maybe that’s been fixed, but boy was it terrible, except for the squash courts. The Gropius complex where I stayed at 1L year was also pretty atrocious.

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