Miller HLS picnic

Ryan Miller (third row, third from right) and some of his fellow Harvard Law School students are pictured at a recent weekend picnic. 

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.

WEEK 6

Monday, Sept. 27

•Torts: Qualified Immunity. The Supreme Court has allowed immunity for government officials from $1,983 unless it is clearly established their actions violate constitutional rights.

•Guest speaker: Jamison v. McClendon. A district judge spoke to our class about this specific case and qualified immunity in general.

•Property: Lateral Support. Landowners cannot excavate on their property in a way that undermines the stability of their neighbor’s land, such as digging below on a mountain.

•Lesson of the Day: Law and justice are not always intertwined, and it is up to us to make sure that they are.

Tuesday, Sept. 28

•Torts: Negligence. You will be liable for the injuries experienced by a victim if you have a duty to the victim, you breach that duty, and your breach causes their injuries.

•Property: Appurtenant Easements. Easements “run with the land” if they are written, if notice is given at time of purchase, and if original grantor intended it to pass between owners.

•Harkness Cafe: In addition to other dining options, HLS offers this cafe which is open for lunch and offers a robust assortment of food – from international cuisine to grilled classics.

•Lesson of the Day: Lawsuits provide opportunities for people to pursue legal changes by enabling the courts to reconsider the current body of law.

Wednesday, Sept. 29

•Civil Procedure: Specific In Personam PJ. If not general, courts assess on a case-by-case basis whether a state has personal jurisdiction over a defendant based on certain criteria.

•Torts: Duty (in Negligence). A relationship to another that requires you to exercise reasonable care while conducting a potentially dangerous activity so you do not cause them injury.

•Contracts: Battle of the Forms. When merchants use different forms when completing a transaction of goods, courts do not view conflicting terms in the forms as counteroffers.

•Clinics at HLS: Harvard Law School offers numerous opportunities for 2Ls and 3Ls to acquire real experience representing clients in the Boston area while earning class credit.

•Lesson of the Day: Be sure to check the weather before going to bed because you just might wake up to a freezing room the next morning.

Thursday, Sept. 30

•Civil Procedure: Calder Effects Test. A state can have PJ if there was an intentional act directed toward a state with knowledge that the majority of injury would take place in the state.

•Contracts: Contract Modifications. Modifications are usually only allowed when unforeseen circumstances arise that seriously impact the agreement or parties agree to a new contract.

•Classroom conversations: Our section gathered with an HLS representative to reflect on how we felt about law school so far and what we might want to improve moving forward.

•Mississippi Delta Project: MDP is a student practice organization focused on promoting economic development in the Delta region through collaborative projects with local leaders.

•Lesson of the Day: Just because people have different reasons for wanting to do the same thing does not mean they cannot excel at doing it together.

Friday, Oct. 1

•Civil Procedure: Purposeful Availment. The Supreme Court tends to permit personal jurisdiction over a corporation if it makes purposeful efforts to benefit from a state.

•Contracts: Uncontrived Warnings. Courts will enforce contract modifications created by one party threatening not to work unless unforeseen circumstances that arise are accounted for.

•TD Garden: music concert. TD Garden, the Boston arena, hosts Celtics and Bruins games, in addition to special events such as concerts for musical artists.

•Civil Rights-Civil Liberties: Subcite. CRCL is another Harvard student-run journal, which publishes current legal scholarship based on ideas around civil rights and liberties.

•Lesson of the Day: Courts cannot grant injunctions for service contracts – forcing someone to work – because that would equate to involuntary servitude.

WEEK 7

Monday, Oct. 4

•Torts: Premises Liability. Landowners have a duty to take reasonable steps to protect others on their land, but the duty varies with whether others are invitees, licensees or trespassers.

•Property: Covenants. These are limits on how you can use your own land with respect to your neighbors or former owners, such as protecting free flow of light, air, or water.

•Hastings Basement: movie night. At a classmate’s suggestion, we gathered unofficially in the basement area of Hastings Hall (one of the dorms) and watched the movie Knives Out.

•Lesson of the Day: Grown-ups make mistakes, like a bank forgetting to make someone sign their own mortgage so it is not legally valid.

Tuesday, Oct. 5

•Torts: Duty to Third Parties. The Tarasoff duty is a specific example where a person’s special relationship to another owes them a duty to an unrelated third party.

•Property: Assessing Covenants. Courts will review covenants on how reasonable they are or on how they impact the general public to determine if they are valid and should be enforced.

•Reading Group: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. We discussed the legal implications and moral concerns if it was possible to erase traumatic memories.

•Lesson of the Day: How do we remember the past, through personal or social memory? Can the two be separated?

Wednesday, Oct. 6

•Civil Procedure: Venue. Venue is the district within a state where a case is heard, and it can be determined by where the resident lives or where the facts of the case took place.

•Torts: Breach of Duty. If a duty is established in negligence, the courts determine the expected standard of care for the duty, and the jury determines if that standard was breached.

•Contracts: Duress. Duress, which nullifies a contract made, results from an “improper” threat which leaves a party with no reasonable alternative but to agree to the contract terms.

•Equal Democracy Project: Policy Committee. A subset of EDP students work closely with professors and professionals to complete reports on the current voting and voting rights.

•Lesson of the Day: Tort and criminal law have different goals – tort law focuses on compensating victims while criminal law is generally about punishing wrongdoing.

Thursday, Oct. 7

•Civil Procedure: Transfer of Venue. This occurs when a defendant files a motion to move from one federal court (the transferor court) to another federal court (the transferee court).

•Section meeting: A member of a state’s DA office spoke to us about his career path from law school and the importance of being involved in state government.

•Contracts: Nondisclosure. For casually acquired information, sellers have a duty to disclose it to potential buyers if it significantly affects the value of the good, especially with houses.

•Legal Research and Writing: Secondary sources. When you are conducting a research project, it is best to start with secondary sources to get a feel for the scholarship.

•Lesson of the Day: Even judges take a spooky liking for ghost-related puns, see the opinion from Stambovsky v. Ackley (1991).

Friday, Oct. 8

•Civil Procedure: Removal. This motion transfers a case from state to federal court, dictated by the rules set out in the federal statute 28 U.S.C. §1441.

•Contracts: Duty to Read. People have a general duty to read the terms of contracts, so that they know what they are signing up for – but there are some exceptions.

•Cambridge Common: Section picnic. Last weekend, my section mates and I met up at this park right beside campus and had a picnic, playing games like Spikeball and Catan.

•Lesson of the Day: Some contract terms can be so ridiculous that they will not be enforced, even if you sign it voluntarily, like giving away your first-born child.

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