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All students are expected to pursue serious written work.  The minimum requirement can be satisfied by a substantial research paper or by two smaller projects, as detailed here. In satisfaction of this requirement, students have the option to complete either option 1 or 2:

1.  Option 1 of the J.D. Written Work Requirement

a) Option 1 requires a substantial research paper of publishable or professional quality, to be written in close consultation with a Law School faculty member or instructor with a Law School teaching appointment, in conjunction with a course, seminar or workshop (for an additional 1, 2, or 3 credits), or through independent study (for 2 or 3 credits).

The substantial work involved in these papers typically produces a final product of 30-60 pages for a two-credit effort.  A small number of students pursue a larger project for three credits and aim for 100-200 pages. These papers can take the form of academic scholarship, policy analysis, or professional legal analysis and must be a substantial undertaking at least comparable to the time demanded by a semester-long course or seminar. When pursuing an empirical project, appropriate length, scope, breadth, etc., should be determined in consultation with the faculty supervisor.

Work done as a research assistant with a Law School faculty member may, in some circumstances, be used to satisfy Option 1. (See Section III(A)(1)(c)).

Work that cannot be used to satisfy Option 1 includes, but is not limited to, Teaching Fellowships/Assistantships, continuation of previous work, required coursework (except for writing done in conjunction with a course or seminar), or paid work.

b) Registration for Option 1 

i.  Deadlines (see also Section VII): Students must register for Option 1 of the J.D. Written Work Requirement in advance of engaging in the work by submitting the required registration form and proposal to the faculty supervisor for approval and then submitting the form and proposal to the Registrar’s Office by October 6, 2017 for fall term (2Ls and 3Ls) and by February 2, 2018 (all J.D. students) for spring term. Forms are available in hard copy at the Office of the Registrar, WCC 4007 and online.

ii. Proposal: The proposal should set forth the intended topic in a few sentences and describe the approach proposed for the work, the extent and type of research, interest in the topic, previous work done in the area, and the intended written product (e.g., 30-page paper, research memo, etc.). Since faculty members may require additional preliminary work, such as an elaboration of the question to be addressed, the methodology to be used, a draft outline, or a longer description before accepting a proposal, students are advised to seek approval well in advance of the registration deadline.  The Registrar’s Office will not accept J.D. Written Work Registration forms without a proposal attached and approved by the faculty supervisor.

iii. First-year students may, in special circumstances, register for Option 1 of the J.D. Written Work Requirement during the second semester of the first year provided they get prior approval from the  Dean for Academic and Faculty Affairs to do so. In no case will written work substitute for the first-year spring term upper-level elective requirement of two to four law school classroom credits. Written work credits included in the first year do not count toward the Law School’s upper-level credit requirements

iv. Second-year students who register to fulfill Option 1 of the J.D. Written Work Requirement during the second year, and who anticipate that they may not complete this work by the end of the academic year, should be aware that if they have not completed 24 graded credits for the year of which no fewer than 18 are for Law School work they will be ineligible for the  Sears Prize.

2. Option 2 of the J.D. Written Work Requirement

a) Option 2 requires two pieces of writing, which could include any of the following, provided that at least one of the pieces is written under the supervision of a Law School faculty member or instructor with a Law School teaching appointment:

i. Lawyer’s work product: including substantial original writing in a clinic (with approval of the clinic director), upper-level moot court briefs, or the equivalent, as certified by the supervisor of the relevant program, but not written work from a summer job or paid work;

ii. Law school course and seminar papers: substantial writing as part of a clinical course or seminar, including the standard series of reaction papers, amounting to no fewer than 15 pages:

iii. Law journal writing: including draft code and legislation, notes, book reviews, descriptions of developments in the law, and the like (totaling no fewer than 10 publishable pages);

iv. Nontraditional writing produced under faculty supervision: including interactive web-based material, surveys of students or practitioners with analysis, case study materials appropriate for classroom use, or other law-related persuasive or descriptive writing as approved by a Law School faculty member or instructor with a Law School teaching appointment.

b) Registration for Option 2 (see also Section VII): Students must register for Option 2 of the J.D. Written Work Requirement by submitting the registration form with required signatures to the Office of the Registrar by February 1 of the third year or the following business day if February 1 falls on a weekend. The form is available in hard copy at the Office of the Registrar and online. A student with concerns about whether a particular piece or type of writing satisfies Option 2 or with questions about registering should contact the Office of the Registrar. For clinical writing, questions should be directed to the Assistant Dean for Clinical and Pro Bono Programs.

3. Experiential Learning and Written Work

Beginning with students entering the J.D. program in the Fall 2016, students may not count written work toward both the experiential learning requirement and the written work requirement or toward the professional responsibility requirement and the written work requirement.

4. Supervision

Students may ask any Law School faculty member or instructor with a Law School teaching appointment to supervise written work. Faculty on certain types of leave may not be available in a given term.

5. Supervision by Visiting Faculty

Writing credits under the supervision of visiting faculty must be registered for, and ordinarily completed during the term(s) of the visitor’s appointment. Note that many visitors have Law School appointments for only one term.  Students with questions about visiting faculty supervision outside of the faculty member’s term of appointment should contact the Dean for Academic and Faculty Affairs.

6. Prohibition against Compensation

A student may not receive academic credit for written work for which he or she also receives compensation, with the exceptions of the Summer Academic Fellowship Program (managed by the Assistant Director of Faculty Affairs) and summer internships for which J.D. students have approval from the Dean for Academic and Faculty Affairs to receive academic credit.

7. Multiple Use of Papers

Occasionally students seek to submit one paper for two or more courses or seminars. In such cases, the paper must be of sufficiently greater scope or depth to warrant such multiple credit. In order to assure compliance with this requirement, any student planning to submit the same or similar written work in more than one academic offering must first get the approval of the Dean for Academic and Faculty Affairs by submitting a memo that documents the project plan.  The instructors involved should discuss appropriate ways to make sure that the submitted work meets this greater burden. This memo must be signed by the instructors for both courses and must set forth the way in which the paper will meet the added requirement described herein.

Once the Dean for Academic and Faculty Affairs approves the project, the memo must then be submitted to the Registrar’s Office before the student is accorded the requested credits. This rule applies to submission of work in any offering whether at the Law School or elsewhere. A student who submits the same, or substantially the same, work in more than one course without such prior permission, will be subject to disciplinary action.

8. Human Subjects Research

Law School projects involving human subjects are reviewed by The Committee on the Use of Human Subjects (CUHS) within the Office of the Vice Provost for Research (OVPR). Students considering research projects, including surveys or interviews should review the University’s policies on the use of human subjects in research available on the CUHS Website and discuss their work an IRB Administrator at CUHS.  Note that students should allow sufficient time for IRB review; late requests for review may not be granted. Requests are triaged within CUHS; please email cuhs@harvard.edu or call (617) 496-2847.