Thanks for making my day

lettersIt is hard to restrain my enthusiasm for the Bulletin. The insights it gives me into what is happening at the school and, at least equally important, what is happening in areas of the law with which I haven’t the faintest contact make reading it a real pleasure. The fact that it is so readable is an obvious plus.

I am particularly impressed by the new areas which are being opened to Harvard Law School graduates, particularly those in public service. When I graduated, getting a public service job often meant that one couldn’t find something at Broad and Wall or comparable locations elsewhere. Parenthetically, I have the feeling that the Happiness Quotient may be as high for one type as for the other.

Thanks again for helping to make my day.

Sander Tax class was “first-of-its-kind problem-solving workshop”


Credit: Jon Chase

As I read your article about Professor Rakoff’s “first-of-its-kind problem-solving workshop,” I said to myself, “Gee, I bet I know where he got that idea—he probably took Frank Sander’s tax class,” the truly “first-of-its-kind problem-solving workshop” at HLS.

I took Professor Sander’s wonderful course almost 40 years ago. Memory is tricky, but here are two of the assignments I recall: negotiating the tax aspects of the sale of a business (two teams in opposition—four students each) and preparing testimony for Senate hearings on a proposed revision to the Code (again, two four-student teams, making opposing presentations on the need for this particular reform). I wasn’t much of a student, but I learned some tax in that class. It was great.

I checked with Professor Sander, and guess what? I was right. Professor Rakoff did take Professor Sander’s Tax Workshop. And even better, Professor Sander wrote an article about the course, for the HLS Bulletin, no less.

Professor Rakoff stands on the shoulders of a true educator. I’m glad to see the tradition being carried on.

And what about Fannie Mae?


Credit: James Yang

I find it surprising that none of the faculty participants in the Bulletin feature [“Hard Hats Required,” Summer 2010] said word one about the role of Fannie Mae in the subprime mortgage debacle. If I lend money and bear the risk of getting it back, I will be very careful indeed. If, on the other hand, I know that I can sell that risk to someone who—due to populist political pressure—is less interested in getting repaid, I do not have to be so careful. Where is the assessment of Fannie Mae’s role in distorting such simple market fundamentals?

Taxing questions


Credit: Ellen Weinstein

Professor Alstott’s “Abstract” defense of the inheritance tax [“A Tax—Not an Attack—On Families,” Summer 2010] gets right to the intellectual mush without asking some fundamental questions about double taxation/death taxes.

A single parent who, by hard work and modest consumption, over a lifetime saved $8 million after paying the full statutory income tax rate, should be able to give those four social-workers-to-be in the buggy their ticket to a decent life/lifestyle without including a road map to the arcanum of financial engineering. (Or pay an estate tax lawyer $500/hour!)

Service on tribunal should have been mentioned

Strangely, the article [Summer 2010] on Krzysztof Skubiszewski LL.M. ’58, the former Polish foreign minister, omitted any reference to his long service until his death as the full-time president of the Iran-United States Claims Tribunal in The Hague. The tribunal, created by the 1981 Algiers Declaration to resolve then existing disputes between Iran and the United States, is still functioning. I had the privilege of serving with him, as did George Aldrich ’57 LL.M. ’58 and Charles Brower ’61. He was a man of great courage and intellect.