Editor’s note: Ryan Miller is a 2017 graduate and former valedictorian of Apalachee High School. He earned bachelor degrees in chemistry and history and graduated summa cum laude from the University of Georgia in December 2020 and graduated summa cum laude with a master of public administration from UGA in May. He was accepted to Harvard Law School and recently began classes there. He is documenting that experience for the Barrow News-Journal.
Monday-Wednesday, Aug. 23-25
•Moving to Cambridge: These three days consisted of moving into my law school dorm, meeting my neighbors, and preparing for the semester.
•Living in Cambridge: There are amazing local restaurants and stores, though a sharp eye can find a Subway no different than home.
•Lesson of the Day: Harvard brings together exceptional people from all over the world.
Thursday, Aug. 26
•Orientation Day 1: Each section of the law school class met their professors, received information about resources, and played icebreakers to meet one another.
•HLS Sections: There are 560 students at Harvard Law School each year, and these students are further broken down into seven sections of 80, who stay together for all first-year classes.
•Lesson of the Day: Avoid comparison, enjoy today, but do not forget where you come from.
Friday, Aug. 27
•Orientation Day 2: My section conducted a mock negotiation to introduce us to how we represent clients and settle disputes outside of court.
•Weather: For this past week Cambridge has felt a lot like Georgia, with 90-degree heat and dense humidity.
•Lesson of the Day: Know the opposite side of an argument as well as you know yours.
Monday, Aug. 30
•Orientation Day 3: Participated in a mock class where we discussed whether or not plaintiffs — the person who brings a lawsuit — should be allowed to remain anonymous in court.
•Classroom Conversations: Discussed important things to remember before beginning school, such as conducting difficult conversations concerning controversial court cases.
•LAWn Day: A large outdoor picnic, where the entire incoming 1L group ate food from food trucks, spoke with one another and professors, and played different lawn-style games.
•Lesson of the Day: People are not just what they say; they are more and should be treated with respect and grace.
Tuesday, Aug. 31
•Lunch with BSAs: Board of Student Advisers are current 2Ls and 3Ls hired by HLS to assist first-year law students (1L) in adjusting to the life of law school.
•Studying in library: Harvard Law School has its own four-story, splendid library – Langdell Hall – which offers excellent opportunities for reading, studying, and preparing for the first day.
•Lesson of the Day: So much happens behind the scenes to make possible what happens within the scene.
Wednesday, Sept. 1
•Torts: Champlain Towers collapse. We discussed the legal implications of the tragedy that took place this past summer, where a condo fell onto its residents in the night and killed many.
•Property: Trespass law. Those who violate a property owner’s right to exclude commit the crime of trespassing unless they do so out of necessity, like if they were in danger.
•Tunnels: Due to a little rain, I took advantage of the underground tunnels which connect all of the HLS buildings – and contain most of the school’s lockers.
•Lesson of the Day: The law is always changing, so it is better to learn how to think about the law than to learn about the laws themselves.
Thursday, Sept. 2
•Civil Procedure: Pleading. Every suit begins with a plaintiff’s complaint, which must be made honestly or the lawyer filing it can be sanctioned according to FRCP 11.
•Torts: Respondeat superior. Employers are often liable for mistakes of their employees, making them more likely defendants in injury suits to recover damages.
•Contracts: Providing voluntary services to another does not entitle you to compensation, and similarly you cannot claim an implied contract when doing something for someone else.
•Legal Research and Writing: CRuPAC method: Conclusion, Rule, Proof, Analysis, Conclusion. This form of legal writing effectively communicates the relevant law.
•Lesson of the Day: Two people can read the same thing in different ways, and both can grow by sharing with one another what they got from it.
Friday, Sept. 3
•Civil Procedure: Notice for Due Process. 14th Amendment requires that the state make reasonable attempts to notify people about legal actions. Mullane v. Central Hanover Bank.
•Contracts: “Joke” defense. Signed agreements are enforceable by courts even if one person took it as a joke while the other did not, even if drinking was invoked in the bargaining.
•Property: Relative Hardship Doctrine. If intrusion is minimal and cost of removal is great, a structure built on another’s property mistakenly may demand compensation to the builder.
•Harvard Square: Beside the campus is a city square with great local food, cool hangout spots, and the nearest public transportation stops.
•Lesson of the Day: Concepts of justice older than our own, such as those of the Navajo Nation, could teach us important lessons.
Monday, Sept. 6
•Labor Day: Labor Day was made official by Grover Cleveland on June 28, 1894, but this only applied to federal workers — states had to make it a holiday themselves.
•Laundry: Living in the Gropius Complex dorms leaves two options for laundry, both in the basement, on machines that still take quarters — and sometimes card, if the reader works.
•Lesson of the Day: A proper blending of work and leisure can allow you to be extremely productive even on a day off.
Tuesday, Sept. 7
•Rosh Hashanah: The celebration represents the beginning of Tishrei in the Jewish faith and tradition and has extremely important religious significance for its observers.
•Torts: Battery torts require only an intent to contact someone else, not an intent to harm them, so one can still be liable for injuries they cause even if they did not think they would happen.
•Hemenway Gym: Hemenway lies adjacent to the HLS campus and functions as the gym of the law students, though it is open to the entire Harvard body.
•Lesson of the Day: Words in law can have very different meanings depending on the section of law in which they are used.
Wednesday, Sept. 8
•Civil Procedure: Service of Process. There are specific rules about how one should be given notice that they are being sued, which could stop a case before it starts.
•Contracts: Indefinite terms. Courts do not like to enforce contracts that leave open necessary terms because they expect people to work out details.
•OPIA: Office of Public Interest Advising. HLS has an office devoted solely to providing guidance to students interested in general and specific public law.
•Lesson of the Day: Judges have to weigh different legal theories when deciding cases, especially when the theories disagree.
Thursday, Sept. 9
•Civil Procedure: Deprivation. Due Process of 14th Amendment often requires hearings or similar safeguards to take place before property is taken.
•Section Meeting: Guest speaker. A DC Circuit judge spoke to our HLS section about their career path and the importance of law clerking.
•Contracts: Consideration. Almost every contract requires valid consideration to be enforceable, and consideration is an exchange of promises to do something.
•Legal Research and Writing: Analogizing. Connecting facts to earlier cases through analogies is an effective argument strategy for lawyers hoping to predict or persuade.
•Lesson of the Day: You can learn your best lessons from classmates, colleagues and co-workers through everyday conversations.
Friday, Sept. 10
•Civil Procedure: Preliminary injunctions. Courts can make binding orders before the end of a case if a claimant can demonstrate that they are likely to win and need immediate action.
•Contracts: Inadequate vs. Nominal. Courts have held inadequate consideration as legally binding, but not nominal, which relates to apparent sincerity of a bargain.
•Bar Review: This HLS tradition involves most of the law students gathering together after class and sharing drinks, though it looks different with the necessary safety restrictions.
•Lesson of the Day: Be careful of the words you use, because one word can change the entire meaning of a statement.