Saturday, April 8, 2017

What I learned at Harvard Law School (reunion edition)

I had planned to post about the intersection of business and CSR in light of the Pepsi/Kendall Jenner debacle and the Bill O'Reilly sponsorship flap, but I will save that for next week. For the last two days, I've been at my 25th anniversary reunion. I protested every year at HLS due to the lack of faculty diversity, and I also didn't believe that I had learned a lot that prepared me for the real world, and thus had mixed emotions about coming back.

 HLS turns 200 this year, and Dean Martha Minow is stepping down because she actually misses full time teaching and scholarship. She raised some fascinating statistics about the incoming class that all of us in the profession should think about as we teach and work with the next generation of lawyers. Of course, Harvard is at the cutting edge, but schools at every tier should try to follow HLS' lead where possible. 

Eighty percent  of  the incoming class didn't come straight from college. Twenty-five percent have  four or more years of work experience, which means that these are students who didn't just default into law school. They made a considered choice and their work experience adds to the richness of discussion. The class hails  from 20 countries and  speaks 52 languages. Hundreds of them volunteered legal and language skills for immigrants after the travel ban. 

Over fifty percent of the incoming class is made up of women for the first time in history. Fourty-four percent are people  of color. Eighty percent  of students are on financial aid. The schools spends $9 million in loan forgiveness  so tthat students can work in public service.

Dean Minow has also made sure to focus on globalization and real world issues. Every 1L takes international or comparative  law and problem solving workshops where they must work in groups. More than half of faculty appointments have been to women since she's been here. 80% of students are doing clinical work. In perhaps the most surprising statistic, HLS is the second larger  producer of CEOs in the US after Harvard Business School. HLS is also the first law school to establish social entrepreneurship fund. The law, business, and medical schools are collaborating like never before.

A number of law grads have become entrepreneurs and discussed how their legal education hurt or helped them. I've tweeted from some of those sessions at @mlnarine on Twitter. I'm gratified to see how much the school is now focusing on technology and entrepreneurship, but I fear my alma mater is in the minority.  I focus on skills development in all of my classes, including the doctrinal courses but it's hard to balance those real world skills with the need to cover theory and bar-tested subjects.  I am definitely leaving Cambridge with a lot to think about in terms of my teaching and mentoring in the future. How do you integrate business skills, global issues, and  technology in the classroom? What do you wish you had learned as a student? Comment below or email me at

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