- What counts as clinical work?
Clinical work must be legal, and involve the application or interpretation of law, the formulation of legal policy, the drafting of legislation or regulations, or legal advocacy or representation. It should not be clerical in nature. All work must be supervised by a licensed attorney or a law professor. Work on political campaigns does not count for clinical credit, but may count for the pro bono graduation requirement if the work is legal.
- Who can take a clinic?
Students must complete their first year of law school before participating in a clinic at HLS. Due to Massachusetts rules on representing clients in criminal proceedings, two clinics require students be in their 3L year: the Criminal Justice Institute and the Criminal Prosecution Clinic (District Attorney’s Office). Some clinics have additional restrictions and course pre-requisites. All clinics are taken with a required clinical course component.
- How many clinics can I take each semester?
Students may participate in one clinic at a time.
- I’m enrolled in a clinic – how do I enroll in the clinic’s required clinical course component?
For most clinics, when students enroll in the clinic through Helios, they are also enrolled in the required clinical course component. There are a handful of clinics where the required clinical course component is open to both clinical and non-clinical students. In these situations, students who enroll in the clinic will be given a reserved clinical seat in the clinical course component and their course registration will be taken care of by the Office of Clinical and Pro Bono Programs. Please refer to the Clinical Curriculum Chart to view the clinical course component for each clinic.
- Are there any pre-requisites for clinics?
Few clinics have prerequisites, but if you are looking to do a clinic that includes court practice then Evidence or Trial Advocacy Workshop is most likely a pre-requisite or co-requisite. The clinic description will list pre-requisites and co-requisites.
- Can I continue working on my clinical cases/projects in a subsequent semester?
Yes, students who complete the original course and clinic can arrange to continue clinical work in a subsequent semester (even into another year) by applying for the Continuing Clinical Program. Approval of the clinical supervisor and the clinic’s faculty director is required (regular clinical credit minimums/maximums apply).
- I want to work in a clinic for the whole year (for example, the Criminal Justice Institute) – is this possible?
If you enroll in a fall clinic (or fall-winter clinic), it is possible for you to continue your work into the winter and spring by applying for the Continuing Clinical Program.
Once a student has enrolled in a clinic through Helios, it is not possible for them to enroll again (for example, a student in the fall International Human Rights clinic will not be able to accept a wait-list offer through Helios for the spring International Human Rights clinic). Students who have taken a semester of a clinic and would like to continue must apply through the continuing clinical program.
- How do I add a clinic?
Initial clinic registration preferencing occurs in April. Students register for the entire upcoming academic year (fall, winter and spring). Once clinical registration preferencing results have been released, students are able to add and drop clinics through Helios. Students who are on the wait-list for clinics will receive automated wait-list offers if and when space becomes available.
- If I drop a clinic, can I stay in the required clinical course?
If you enrolled in the class as a direct result of your clinic enrollment (i.e. the class is either for clinical students only or you enrolled in the class under a reserved clinical seat) then you must also drop the class.
- Are all clinics in clinical registration?
Some courses are by permission and cannot be added through clinical registration or during Add/Drop on Helios. These courses are noted as “By Application” in the Clinical Curriculum Chart and the course description. Enrollment instructions for By Permission clinicals are explained in the clinic descriptions. Independent clinicals and continuing clinicals require applications.
- I received a clinic wait-list offer and cannot accept it – help!
There are a few reasons that you may not be able to accept the clinic wait-list offer.
- Check to make sure that you have enough room in your schedule for the clinical credits and the clinical course component credits. J.D. students may not enroll in more than 16 credits in both the fall and spring semesters (and may not exceed 3 credits during winter term).
- You may be enrolled in another clinic during that semester. Students may only take one clinic at a time, so if you are enrolled in a different clinic in the same semester as the wait-list offer, you will need to drop your current clinic enrollment before being able to accept the wait-list offer.
- You may have already taken the clinic. Students who have enrolled in a clinic once may not enroll again through Helios. Students interested in continuing their work with a clinic they have already participated in should apply through the Continuing Clinical program.
If you continue to have problems accepting your clinical wait-list offer, please contact us!
- Are all clinics included in clinical registration preferencing and add/drop?
Some clinics are by permission and cannot be added through clinical registration preferecing or during clinical add/drop in Helios. Application instructions for by application clinics can be found in the clinic descriptions in the course catalog.
- What if I drop after the clinical add/drop deadline?
Clinics line up clients, cases, and projects well before the semester begins, and depend on their enrollment numbers to determine how many cases to take. Thus, clinics have add/drop deadlines that are always earlier than the regular course add/drop deadlines. Dropping after the clinic’s add/drop deadline results in a “Withdrawal” notation on your transcript. If you drop a clinic, you are dropped from both the clinic and the required clinical course.
- How do clinical credits work?
In a clinic, you earn academic credits (clinical credits) for the work you complete. The majority of clinics allow you to elect 3, 4, or 5 clinical credits, although some clinics have a set number of clinical credits. Each clinical credit equals 4 hours of clinical work per week or 48 hours per semester.
||Hours of work per week
||Hours of work per semester
||2 clinical credits
||3 clinical credits
||4 clinical credits
||5 clinical credits
Over winter term, students receive 2 clinical credits. Students must be in residence working full-time at their placements, from the first day of winter term through the last day of winter term.
- What is the maximum number of clinical credits I can take?
In the Fall and Spring semesters, there is a limit of 5 clinical credits. In the Winter term, there is a limit of 2 clinical credits. J.D. students can only take up to 16 clinical credits during their time at HLS, which is the maximum that can count towards the degree requirement for the JD degree (52 upper-level credits are needed to graduate). Students who have questions about this policy should contact the Assistant Dean for Clinical Programs, Lisa Dealy. Combining clinical, cross-registration, and written work credits, up to 16 credits can count towards the J.D. degree requirement. Once you’ve met the 52 upper-level credit minimum requirement, you may go over the 16 credit limit of combined clinical (16 credit maximum), cross registration and written work credits.
Please review the HLS Academic Handbook for more information on degree requirements and credit limitations. LLM students should consult with the LLM program office for clinical credit restrictions.
- How do I change the number of clinical credits I am enrolled for?
Students can change their clinical credits through Helios up until the clinic’s add/drop deadline. Once the add/drop deadline has passed, students may request a change to their clinical credits by emailing Maggie Bay in the Office of Clinical and Pro Bono Programs.
Each semester has a deadline by which students must request any changes to their credit enrollment.
- I noticed that clinics do not have set time-blocks. How is my clinical work schedule determined?
Once students have been assigned a direct clinical supervisor, they will work with that supervisor to establish a clinical work schedule that fits with the rest of their academic schedule. Some clinics may have more detailed requirements about when (and where) the clinical work must be done.
- Can I work from home?
You must fulfill all of your clinical work hours on-site at your clinical placement, if it is located on campus or in the Boston area. Any exceptions or deviations must be discussed in advance with your supervisor and the Office of Clinical and Pro Bono Programs. Placements outside the Boston area must have projects and work coordinated with your individual supervisor.
- Do I have to make up clinical work for holidays or vacation weeks?
You are responsible for consistently working the required number of hours each week throughout the semester, with exceptions for the December holidays and spring break week. During these excused absences, which you should coordinate in advance with your placement supervisor, you are required to ensure that all casework is covered and that clients are aware of your absence. Any unplanned hours missed from your weekly schedule of clinical work must be made up within a reasonable period of time on a schedule developed in conjunction with your clinical supervisor.
- Do my clinical credits count towards the Pro Bono Graduation Requirement?
Clinical work that is not for a for-profit entity will count for the Pro Bono Graduation Requirement. Clinical credits are automatically converted into pro bono hours and placed on students’ records at a set rate of 48 hours per clinical credit after grades are submitted. Please contact us if you have questions about your clinical qualifying for the Pro Bono Graduation Requirement.
- What is the process for securing a clinical placement through an externship clinic?
Most externship clinics are coordinated by the Office of Clinical and Pro Bono Programs. Students who are enrolled in an externship clinic will work with the Office of Clinical and Pro Bono Programs to secure a clinical placement.
- Can I receive transportation assistance to get to my clinical placement?
The Office of Clinical and Pro Bono Programs does not offer transportation assistance. However, you can sign up for discounted T passes through the Dean of Students Office before the semester begins.
- Does transportation time count toward my clinical hours?
Travel time does not count for clinical hours.
- The supervisor listed on my clinical position is inaccurate – how do I edit the position to reflect the correct supervisor?
Your position summary is found in Helios under the “Public Service and Clinical Practice” section. To edit a position, click on the position and then use the “Edit Position” link on the position detail page. Once you have edited a position, the position will be reviewed by the Office of Clinical and Pro Bono Programs. Once the edit has been approved, your Helios summary will reflect the change.
- The location listed on my clinical position is inaccurate – how do I edit the position to reflect the correct location?
Please see the above.
- My clinical evaluation has the wrong supervisor listed – how do I correct this?
If your clinical evaluation lists the wrong supervisor, please contact the Office of Clinical and Pro Bono Programs before you fill the evaluation out.
- What kind of guidelines do I follow as a student attorney?
In order for students to practice law, they must be practicing under the auspices of an existing clinic. You must not identify yourself as an attorney or give the impression to clients that you are an attorney, even though you have all the responsibilities and obligations of an attorney. Always advise clients and others that you are a law student. If someone mistakenly refers to you as an attorney or otherwise indicates that they think you are an attorney, you must clarify that you are a student. The Massachusetts Rules of Professional Conduct or the rules or codes of the particular jurisdiction of your placement apply to you. Please make sure that you are familiar with these rules and can access them during the semester. When questions or problems arise, there are many resources available to you, including your supervising attorney and the Office of Clinical and Pro Bono Programs. Learn more at the Dean of Students page.
- Are there any confidentiality issues I should know about?
The majority of students enrolled in a clinical are working in a law office environment, practicing under a special court rule. Because of this, you are bound by the same “attorney/client” confidentiality rules as staff at each placement site. While most clinical placements will address confidentiality issues with you, please feel free to raise any questions or concerns you may have with your supervisor.
We recommend the following as a starting point for dealing with client confidentiality:
- At all times, assure the client that all matters discussed relating to his or her legal problem and all written materials relative to the client or case are confidential. This also applies to potential clients you interview who are seeking legal advice.
- At the beginning of your clinical work, discuss any potential conflicts of interest with your supervisor, including any prior knowledge or legal work you may have accomplished on behalf of an opposing party.
- Do not refer to a client by name, provide identifying information or talk about details of the case in common areas of the office (reception area, hallway, elevators) where other clients or visitors may overhear you. This same rule applies when you are outside of the office (e.g., at a local restaurant), or when you’re in a law school setting such as a class. Although we encourage the integration of clinical work into the classroom, you must never write a law school paper or exam, or provide your professor with case file documentation containing the client’s name or other identifying information about the case or client.
- Handle case files carefully to avoid breaching client confidentiality. Whenever possible, case files and case-related documents should be kept in a filing cabinet, not on a desktop, where confidential information could be viewed by anyone walking by. Case files belong to the clinc and as such, all case/client related papers, files, emails, and electronic documents must be returned to the clinic by the end of the semester.
- What is the clinical email system policy?
Please visit the Clinical Email System Policy page for the complete policy.