HLS students get involved in many things during their time here. Much of their focus is on their preparation for their law career, but many of their activities are also community service based. Earlier this semester, Section 6 of the 1L class brought in high school students from the Boston Debate League to expose them to Law School life. I asked them to write a blog posting about the day because it’s a great example of the different ways you can get involved while you are a student here. So today, I’m turning my blog over to Section Six…
In February, HLS and 1Ls from Section 6 welcomed Boston Public School students to campus to experience life at law school and learn more about the law and how to prepare forceful arguments. The students are part of the Boston Debate League (BDL), an Urban Debate League that seeks to improve public high school students’ academic achievement and their expectations of themselves by engaging them in academic debate. The day-long conference was organized by students in 1L Section 6 with generous help from the Dean of Students Office, HLS Admissions, the Black Law Students Association, and La Alianza.
The BDL students began the day at HLS with breakfast with a side of criminal law. Professor Daniel Meltzer graciously opened his classroom to the high schoolers, who learned about homicide law along with Section 6. The BDL students quickly grasped important ethical and legal concepts and were actively engaged in class discussion. Students were then officially welcomed with a speech from Professor Charles Ogletree. Next was lunch, with a visit from Professors Michael Klarman and Julie Suk, who debated the ramifications of the landmark Brown v. Board of Education decision. Professor Jon Hanson spoke to students about the importance of remembering their own life experiences as they pursue their college and future careers, and Dean Martha Minow made a special appearance to talk about the important skill of persuasion. Students again were active in asking questions about the discussion material and its implications for their debate arguments and future studies.
After lunch, Research Librarian Mindy Kent led the students in research training, a skill that will prove invaluable for the students as they prepare for debates both within the Boston Debate League and beyond. Then, member of Section 6 led the students on a tour of the law school campus, where they marveled at the beautiful architecture and the impressive library collection, explored the various tunnels that connect each of the buildings, checked out the great facilities at Hemenway gym, and took turns posing like President Barack Obama outside Austin Hall. The tour finished at the HLS Admissions office, where students met with current undergraduate students at Harvard College and HLS Assistant Director of Admissions Danielle Early. The students actively posed questions about law school, the college application process, and college life in general. Finally, the students joined current Harvard College students and Harvard College alumni from Section 6 for a tour of the undergraduate campus.
All in all, great connections were made, and students at HLS and the College are working on an ongoing mentoring program to keep the partnership going. HLS Section 6 was excited to meet these prospective students of the JD classes of 2020 and later (wow!), and we look forward to helping them succeed. For those of us in Section 6, this was a powerful reminder of the difference that we can make, not just as future lawyers, but as active members of the Greater Boston Community, and it will certainly be one of the highlights of our 1L year here at HLS.