Legal Education

Classmates' comments should be confidential, Harvard Law says in new social media policy

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If you are a Harvard Law School student making a social media post about something said in class, you should not write it in a way that identifies the speaker to those who were not there, according to a new policy at the school.

Named the HLS Community Principle on Non-Attribution, it comes after Chance M. Fletcher, a law student and president of Harvard Law’s Federalist Society, cleaned a gun during an April Zoom class, the Harvard Crimson reports.

Someone took a screenshot of him, and the image was shared many times on Twitter and various news sites, according to the article. Fletcher is a member of the class of 2021, according to the school’s Federalist Society website.

Law students learn to make arguments in classrooms, and the learning process includes taking risks, as well as making mistakes, according to a Harvard Law School webpage describing the policy.

Additionally, it notes that sometimes a speaker agrees with an argument they are making in class, and other times they’re taking on the so-called devil’s advocate role.

“Because of the potential permanence and widespread dissemination of communications through social media and other forms of communication designed to reach members of the public, if statements made in class are quoted or described with attribution in those media, students may be reluctant to approach any question, particularly controversial ones, with the openness and vulnerability they need to grow as lawyers and to learn from one another,” according to the website.

The policy also applies to written statements made in classroom-related spaces, and faculty can adopt additional guidelines, providing that they are stated clearly before the class starts, according to the law school webpage. It does not list penalties for violating the policy.

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