Letters

Writ Large: Faculty Books

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In new book, Benkler makes the case for “prosocial” systems design

For generations, the assumption that selfishness drives human behavior has shaped the design of social systems in which we live and work. In his new book “The Penguin and the Leviathan: The Triumph of Cooperation Over Self-Interest,” Harvard Law Professor Yochai Benkler ’94 rejects this assumption as a “myth” and proposes an alternative, refreshingly optimistic model that asserts our human traits of cooperation and collaboration.

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Checks and Imbalances

Vermeule and Posner are bullish on executive power

Vermeule and Posner set out to explain why the traditional separations of power confining the executive have weakened over time—and why that’s not necessarily worrisome.Continue Reading »

What Kind of Difference They Made

Glendon looks to history to inspire graduates considering a career in public life

In her long career as a law professor, Mary Ann Glendon has seen students struggle to stay idealistic in an imperfect world. Will they lose their moral compass if they choose a life in politics? Risk irrelevance if they stick to academia? Glendon, a former U.S. ambassador to the Vatican, has explored how great statespersons and philosophers grappled with similar questions.

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Inside HLS

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    The Delta Force: A collaboration between HLS and local organizations seeks to transform a region

    Where others see entrenched problems, the HLS Mississippi Delta Project—an interdisciplinary effort in the HLS Clinical and Pro Bono Programs—sees opportunity for transformation. Since launching less than three years ago, the project has made strides in improving public health, promoting economic development and assisting children in the Delta.Continue Reading »

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    How Judges Decide: A clinical course puts students in chambers

    Arraignments on drug charges. Restraining orders in cases of domestic violence. Default judgments on overdue credit card payments and appeals on speeding tickets. When Judge Sabita Singh, an associate justice on the Massachusetts District Court, presides over these and a wide range of other civil and criminal matters, Allison Lukas ’11 is there. Lukas is […]Continue Reading »

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    Taking an Idea and Running with It

    This winter, as protests erupted throughout the Middle East, Jason Gelbort ’12 was one of the many obsessively watching the news, wondering if there was anything he could do to help. Then, on March 2, he went to a talk by Chibli Mallat, the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Visiting Professor of Islamic Legal Studies at HLS.Continue Reading »

Alumni Notes and Newsmakers

Leonard Joy ’56

Leonard F. Joy ’56 on representing the infamous and the “truly good”

At the reins of New York’s federal public defender office for two decades, Leonard F. Joy ’56 represented notorious defendants in cases involving international intrigue, terrorism plots and arms trafficking. But Joy’s favorite case will always be one that reminds him why he transitioned into public defense as a young corporate lawyer. The case was particularly satisfying for Joy, not just because he won but because it offered the rare thrill of defending someone “who was truly good.”

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John Kroger

John Kroger ’96: Where His Convictions Have Led Him

Kroger went from being a Marine reconnaissance scout to a Yale undergraduate to an aide for then-Rep. Charles Schumer ’74 and then for Bill Clinton’s presidential campaign, before he enrolled at Harvard Law School. After clerking for a year, he landed a job in 1997 as an assistant U.S. attorney in the Eastern District of New York, where he quickly racked up a list of high-profile convictions against drug dealers and mobsters.Continue Reading »

Rebecca Hamilton, interviewing the vice president of southern Sudan, Riek Machar

Learning from History: Rebecca Hamilton ’07 analyzes a citizens’ advocacy movement from the inside

Rebecca Hamilton ’07 has traveled extensively in Sudan, interviewing powerful generals in the north and refugees in Darfur who had survived murderous government raids. But that was easy, she says, compared to the delicate task of talking about the book that resulted. “Fighting for Darfur: Public Action and the Struggle to Stop Genocide” is a look at the advocacy movement that Hamilton was part of and which she has now come to critique.

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Remembering Benjamin Kaplan

Royall Professor of Law Emeritus Benjamin Kaplan

Credit: HLS Historical and Special Collections

I do not write letters to the editor of alumni magazines or other publications, but I could not help but react to, and thank you for, the Faculty Tribute to Professor Kaplan in the Winter 2011 issue.

My first law school class (September 1958) was Civil Procedure. I watched in terror as Professor Kaplan called on and verbally sparred with names chosen at random from a seating chart of about 125 students. The day came in October when my name was called. I do not remember the question, but I remember nervously mouthing some response. This was followed by a short series of questions from Professor Kaplan and answers from me. His teaching skills converted the wide-of-the-mark answer I had originally given into a response somewhere near the target. The experience gave me the confidence I needed that long-ago first year.

Remembering Benjamin Kaplan

It was with the deepest sadness that I marked the passing of Professor Benjamin Kaplan, who taught me Civil Procedure 42 years ago at the Harvard Law School. “Big Ben,” as we called him—not to be in any way equated with the brutish football player—brought to his classroom a steel-trap mind, a thorough knowledge of the classics, biblical quotes, sparks of grandfatherly wisdom, a wry sense of humor, a self-deprecating wit and an unwavering love of teaching. Professor Kaplan, along with Professor Laurence Tribe and Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, were simply the best teachers I ever had. Ben Kaplan was a giant of the law who challenged us in ways that still resonate—and still reward.

Remembering Benjamin Kaplan

Moved by your Faculty Tribute to Benjamin Kaplan in your most recent issue, I want to second my own deep appreciation of this man, teacher and warm human being.

I had been his student in a seminar on copyright law. In applying to graduate school for an advanced degree in art history and archaeology, a recommendation was needed and I went to Professor Kaplan. Upon hearing my request, he immediately remarked I was “crazy” and then wrote one anyway, a recommendation good enough to obtain fellowships for me at Harvard and at Yale for which I was always grateful.

Supreme coverage

That cover photo of Justices Kagan and Roberts by Brooks Kraft is outstanding.

Not progressive but reactionary

Your current [Winter 2011] issue reads like a propaganda broadsheet for the various misguided causes of the left. These are not “progressive” issues but reactionary ones; the children of the ’60s never learned or accepted that they were simply wrong, but the rest of the world has moved on. There is nothing to celebrate about the Obama administration except its gradual passing.

A call for more political balance

I thank Harvard Law School for its video of the panel discussion on the book by Professors Blum and Heymann, “Laws, Outlaws, and Terrorists.” I was led to it by a story in the Bulletin [“Looking for the Third Paradigm: When Criminal Law and the Laws of War Are Not Enough”]. However, it would have been a far better panel if one conservative had been included.

It appears that Blum and at least one other panelist believe the threat of terrorism is exaggerated, even though Islamic imperialism once was on the verge of completely dominating the civilized world. All of the panelists assumed that terrorism was in reaction to the foreign policy of the United States and not a matter of religious obligation. Finally, all panelists assumed that the legal opinions of John Yoo and Judge Bybee were motivated by political considerations and were not their honest opinions.

I think the panel would have had far more to offer had it been more politically balanced. But I was able to make up my mind on whether to buy the book.

CorrectionThe photo caption for Outside the Classroom on Page 22 of the Winter 2011 issue reversed the order of the two students in the photo. “It should have read: Professor Deborah Anker LL.M. ’84, HIRC director, with Gianna Borroto ’11, Defne Ozgediz ’11 and Sabrineh Ardalan, clinical instructor.”