Just the Beginning of the Analysis

In your story on the Corporate Boards and Governance seminar, “Bringing Boardroom Experts to the (Seminar) Table,” the example of IBM partnering with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the suggestion of thorny legal issues to address made me smile. As a retired corporate attorney serving publicly traded corporations in many senior capacities, including as general counsel, the hypothetical posited really would be a no-brainer for IBM. My guess is the seminar in fact takes on much more difficult and truly real-life issues such as reconciling a duty to shareholders with dramatically high executive compensation, political and lobbying expenditures, officer and director liability indemnification, and costly perquisites defended under often distorted rationales. I hope the seminar also addresses the purpose and role of publicly owned corporations. For me, having “shareholders to satisfy and a bottom line to maintain” is a beginning to the analysis, not the end.

Don Bergmann ’66

Westport, Connecticut

The Tells of Hofman

I am now 85 years of age but still conscious of the beneficial effect of my studies at HLS for my professional life. That is why I enjoy so much reading your Bulletins.

This was particularly true for the article on Alan Stone in the most recent issue. You improved my command of English by using vocabulary like “greenlighted” and “smarts.” The article “War or Peace?” reconfirmed my conviction that international law is largely ineffective. I fully shared Kim Rivera’s conviction [“Pathways Upward”] that Harvard is a place where students are genuinely exposed to people “both incredibly smart and really diverse.” A prize is due to your photograph on top of Page 45 [Princess Sonam Dechan Wangchuck LL.M. ’07,“The Law and Happiness in Bhutan”].

Looking forward eagerly to your next issue.

Wilfried A. Hofmann LL.M. ’60

Bonn, Germany

The Life of an Immigration Lawyer

As an immigration lawyer since 1993, I appreciated the article in the Spring 2017 Bulletin about the Harvard Law students working for the Immigration Response Initiative of the Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinical Program. Right after reading the article, late on Thursday night, June 1, I received a series of text messages informing me that an immigration client had been picked up by DHS-ICE and was now sitting in jail under detention, facing imminent removal from the United States to El Salvador. I also found out, late on Thursday night, that an unexpected check had gone through against my account, reducing my bank balance to an impressive negative $32.12. Such is the life of an immigration lawyer: You win a very few cases against an opponent with so many resources compared with you and your client that it makes David v. Goliath look like a cakewalk.

I will continue to fight for my clients, despite the impossibility of the battles, because it’s my life as well as theirs; but I wish, perhaps, there were more support for us in the trenches. I do belong to the American Immigration Lawyers Association, and have received valued assistance from NIPNLG (the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild), but inevitably most of us immigration lawyers are a one-person show, and that translates to hours spent on the grunt work (photocopying, assembling application packages) that those in top law firms, doing this as a pro bono project, can simply hand off to the legal assistants. C’est la guerre. Keep fighting, keep soldiering on.

Judy Resnick ’90

Far Rockaway, New York

In Praise of Alan Stone

Alan Stone was/is a hero of mine. Not only was it the case that his Psychiatry and the Law class in 1972 produced the only “straight A” that I received at HLS. Far more importantly, taking his class and writing the required term paper (the details of which I do not recall—only that it focused on self-analysis of some important personal issue) was, in retrospect, the single most fulfilling and therapeutic act of my law school career.

As referenced in Mr. MacCourt’s tribute [“A Moral Adventure in the Law,” Spring 2017], Professor Stone had a knack for “encouraging not only the class superstars but also the more timid or struggling.” After all these years, I wear as a badge of honor that I was among the latter group. My ultimate success in navigating to graduation day at HLS was in no small measure due to Professor Stone.

Stu Mandel ’73

Guilford, Connecticut

Transformed Beyond Recognition

I graduated in 1958, got a clerkship, wrote a law review article, then practiced in NYC. But I left the law, never to go back, by 1962. My view of the law school was that of the late ’50s. So I never contributed, never attended HLS class events, never read the Bulletin (was it even published then?).

But the current Bulletin shows that the law school of the ’50s has been transformed—beyond recognition. Perhaps the current one might have kept me (and many others) a lawyer. But in any event, the difference between the late ’50s and now is well worth celebrating, even by an ex-lawyer.

Peter Szanton ’58