Broken Contract: A Memoir of Harvard Law School

Broken Contract: A Memoir of Harvard Law School


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Broken Contract: A Memoir of Harvard Law School by Richard D. Kahlenberg

In 1986, 70 percent of the first-year class of Harvard Law School wanted to pursue careers in public-interest law. Ten years later, the same percentage of this class was pursuing careers in private corporate firms. How is it that these students began their careers interested in using law as a vehicle for social change, but ended up in those very law firms most resistant to change? How are law students able to reconcile liberal politics with careers in corporate law?

Richard D. Kahlenberg's Broken Contract serves to warn prospective law students on the transformation that happens during the second and third years. His memoir explores the intense competitiveness and insidious pressure leading to jobs that are lucrative, prestigious, and challenging—but ultimately unsatisfying.

Though Broken Contract doesn't seek to convince every law student to go into public service, Kahlenberg means to challenge and restructure our social institutions to make it easier to follow our impulses toward good instead of toward the goods.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781558492349
Publisher: University of Massachusetts Press
Publication date: 11/16/1999
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 256
Product dimensions: 6.02(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.75(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Richard D. Kahlenberg is a fellow at the Century Foundation, where he writes about education, equal opportunity, and civil rights. His most recent book is The Remedy: Class, Race, and Affirmative Action.

What People are Saying About This

Martin Paretz

Kahlenberg's brilliant and brilliantly written memoir of his years as a student at the Harvard Law School is the most compelling critique of legal education of this generation. Lively and devastating, Broken Contract is a must, not only for those who are already lawyers, but, more important, also for those who want to be lawyers. This book could change their lives.

Senator Charles S. Robb

In One L, Scott Turow wrote of Socratic cruelty at Harvard Law School. But that was just part of the story. Richard Kahlenberg's Broken Contract reveals an even more insidious and costly process: how law school can transmute idealism into avarice. Kahlenberg's writing seethes with the outrage of a man who feels jilted by the school he wanted to love. He cites incident after incident to show how students' natural public-spiritedness is turned into self-interest, cloaked in a grey flannel suit, and delivered almost exclusively to the service of the powerful. Broken Contract should be required reading for every college student considering law school.

John Grisham

Should be read by every bright mind even remotely contemplating law school. It's much more than a memoir. It's a brutally honest picture of how law schools transform idealism into greed. The book is an indictment of American legal education. Perhaps if it's read and passed around, the current stampede toward law will be halted.

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