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, Nov. 8
•Torts: Norfolk v. Ayers (2003). In this case argued by our professor, the Supreme Court held that employees who developed asbestosis could recover damages for their fear of cancer.
•Property: The Fair Housing Act. This legislation outlaws discrimination in the sale, renting, or financing of housing based on race, nationality, religion, sex, and disability – among others.
•Lunch Lecture: Fighting for One Fair Wage. A labor activist explained how tips for employees changed from a bonus on regular wages to the main source of income for millions of workers.
•Lesson of the Day: A sub-minimum wage is not only limited to restaurant servers in the 43 states that allow it; any service worker given tips can be paid as low as $2.13 an hour.
Tuesday, Nov. 9
•Torts: Contributory Negligence. When the injured party is shown to have also been negligent in their own injury, their damages will be totally or partially reduced by the courts.
•Property: Disparate Impact. The Supreme Court has held that otherwise neutral housing policies that cause a discriminating effect are illegal (Texas Dept. of Housing v. Inclusive CP).
•OPIA Public Interest Advising: Individual meeting. An HLS advisor discussed with me job opportunities for the upcoming summer to develop skills for public interest lawyering.
•The Injustices of Ashcroft v. Iqbal: A lawyer from the suit identified the inherent anti-Muslim attitudes in the court’s decision that accepted targeted arrests based on race and religion.
•Lesson of the Day: “Follow the breadcrumbs.” jJust because you cannot have your perfect job tomorrow does not mean you should give up on pursuing it.
Wednesday, Nov. 10
•Civil Procedure: Claim Preclusion. You cannot bring a civil case against a party if you already had a court give valid, final judgment on the merits of the same claim against the same party.
•Torts: Assumption of Risk. Accepting a risk by contract or participation keeps you from holding another person liable for negligence but only for a risk reasonable to the specific activity.
•Contracts: Expectation Damages. These damages provide the victim of a breach compensation to put them where they would have been if the contract was completed.
•Lesson of the Day: When adding to an email you sent, make sure you don’t reply to yourself or you might just realize two weeks later you never sent a pretty important message.
Thursday, Nov. 11
•Civil Procedure: Issue Preclusion. If an issue was actually litigated, actually determined, and essential to the judgment, it may not be litigated again in a later suit.
•Contracts: Reliance Damages. These damages provide the victim of a breach compensation to put them where they would have been if the contract was never made.
•Sunset: Because Boston is so far north, and the time fell back from daylight savings, the sun sets before the normal working day is even over (4:26 p.m. today).
•Lesson of the Day: Contract law aims to assure compensation from the one who breached a contract for the other party, not to assure performance of the contract as it was written.
Friday, Nov. 12
•Civil Procedure: Mutuality. Courts traditionally required that preclusion could only be sought against parties directly involved in the first case or those parties that were “mutual.”
•Contracts: Specific Performance. This form of damages requires that a contract be performed as it was written, but courts restrict it to goods which are unique and impracticable to quantify.
•Lesson of the Day: Specific performance or injunctions cannot be used for personal services contracts (example: mowing a lawn) because that would reflect involuntary servitude (13th Amendment).
Monday, Nov. 15
•Torts: Can casinos be liable for gambling? Discussed in class a hypothetical about whether or not an impulsive gambler and his family could recover from the casino that enables him.
•Property: Disability Law. The ADA in 1990 created an affirmative responsibility on businesses to alter actions to accommodate persons with disabilities – not just to treat them equally.
•Lunch Talk: In Conversation with Rich Paul & KLUTCH Sports. The entrepreneur described his agency’s holistic approach to supporting athletes and developing them beyond the court.
•Disorientation: HLS student activists organized an event in Belinda Hall centered on illuminating the school’s long history of ignoring the concerns of minority students on campus.
•Lesson of the Day: Mistakes are not failures, repeated mistakes are; you cannot let yourself be discouraged because discouragement ends most dreams.
Tuesday, Nov. 16
•Torts: Trespass and Nuisance. Voluntary, unauthorized entrance onto private property is a trespass, while substantial interference of the enjoyment of property is a nuisance.
•Property: Zoning Law. Local governments determine what land can be used for through zoning, such as designating land for residential, commercial, or institutional use.
•Lesson of the Day: If you try and change your restaurant overnight into a discotheque – also known as a disco – you just might run into zoning issues with your local government.
Wednesday, Nov. 17
•Civil Procedure: Seventh Amendment. Enables a jury trial for civil cases where remedy would have been sought in the 1791 law (not equity) courts and it’s on a question of fact (not law).
•Torts: Jan. 6, 2021. We discussed the complaint filed on behalf of seven Capitol police officers seeking recovery for injuries they suffered while attempting to prevent entry that day.
•Contracts: Mitigation of Damages. When the other party breaches a contract, you have a duty to reduce damages by stopping working, finding another job, etc., or you cannot recover all.
•Meeting with a librarian: One of the Harvard librarians met with me and discussed legal research generally and how to approach writing a predictive legal memo for an employer.
•Lesson of the Day: When writing something informative for your boss, include any information that you think is relevant whatsoever – especially if it is a potential weakness in the argument.
Thursday, Nov. 18
•Civil Procedure: Striking jurors. Jurors can be struck “for cause” based on bias or by a peremptory strike for any reason except protected categories such as race or gender.
•Contracts: Hadley v. Baxendale (1854). The person who breached a contract is only liable for the damages that they can reasonably foresee at the time of contracting.
•Legal Research and Writing: Public interest Jobs. Fellowships are one- to two-year jobs that introduce you to organizations to prepare you for a legal career in public interest areas.
•Lesson of the Day: Solutions to one problem can create another set of problems; for example, eliminating peremptory strikes could magnify issues that arise from selecting the jury pool.
Friday, Nov. 19
•Civil procedure: Judgment as a matter of law. If the evidence shows that a reasonable jury could not rule in favor of the non-moving party, the judge determines the case before the jury.
•Contracts: Liquidated damages. Contracts can set the amount of damages due if a breach happens so long as the amount is reasonable based on anticipated loss and uncertainty.
•TD Garden: Celtics game. I attended the Celtics vs. Lakers game at the home arena of the Celtics with one of my classmates on this night.
•Lesson of the Day: Even though the Seventh Amendment preserves a right to trial by jury for civil cases, the vast majority of these cases are decided or dismissed by the judge.