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HLS Professor Imparts Advice to Third-Year Law Students

By Graeme W. Crews, Contributing Writer

In a discussion about the changing job market, Harvard Law School Professor Noah R. Feldman ’92 advised third-year Law School students on how to best utilize the skills they have learned at HLS once they enter the field.

Feldman, who spoke yesterday as a part of the Class of 2010 Faculty Speaker Series, detailed the effects of the recent financial crisis on major private law firms.

While the overall nature of these jobs has not changed, lawyers should use the crisis as motivation to advise their clients—especially those in the financial sector—in a more cautious manner, Feldman said.

He warned that there may be fewer job opportunities for Law School graduates and that students might be furloughed after being hired—but acquiring a job is not the only concern, he added.

Feldman said that recent Law School graduates can often become disillusioned and feel like they have “no impact on the way the machine is working.”

The solution, Feldman said, is to develop a better understanding of the given law firm’s structure and then think of ways to improve the system as a “self-conscious, thinking person.” New lawyers should then articulate and voice these ideas, Feldman stressed.

He said that young lawyers should not be afraid to ask questions and express their opinions as they use the language of the law they have learned at Harvard.

Feldman said that he feels there is a lack of hierarchy in major private law firms, which encourages the kind of communicative exchange that he seeks to encourage between the graduating students and their future partners.

The Law School has prepared its students with the tools they need to understand the legal world and to effect “incremental change,” Feldman said.

The students need to move beyond the instruction provided at the Law School to create change in the real world and “to not assuage anxiety but meet it head-on,” he said.

The speaker series concludes next Wednesday with a speech by Law School Professor and HLS graduate Carol S. Steiker ’82.

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