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Student Work

Students will participate in an externship with The Protect Democracy Project, a nonpartisan nonprofit founded by former White House and Department of Justice attorneys and dedicated to holding the President and the Executive Branch accountable to the laws and longstanding practices that have protected our democracy through both Democratic and Republican Administrations. Most clinical work will be done remotely, although there may be opportunities for travel to Washington, D.C.

Students in the Democracy and the Rule of Law Clinic will work with The Protect Democracy Project to safeguard the key features of a democratic society through litigation and other means.  The Clinic will focus on issues such as ensuring the impartial application of the rule of law; safeguarding healthy civic institutions that allow for public participation in political debate; prohibiting official corruption; and challenging government if it targets certain people or groups in our society.

Specific topics and projects will be determined by enrolled students in conjunction with the clinic leaders and other attorneys at The Protect Democracy Project.  Students will be divided into small teams, and each team will help to develop and manage at least one (and, more likely, several) transparency and oversight project or litigation project.  Some examples of such projects include:

Transparency and Oversight

  • Developing and submitting FOIA requests, including identifying recipients and shaping requests in a manner likely to lead to useful information.
  • Handling administrative FOIA appeals and follow-up with agency FOIA officers.
  • Drafting letters to agency Inspectors General, the Office of Special Counsel, or state Attorneys General alerting them to potential areas for investigation.

Litigation

  • Developing litigation memoranda setting forth proposed legal theories and possible causes of action, and assessing approaches to overcome justiciability barriers.
  • Identifying potential plaintiffs for litigation and selecting optimal jurisdictions.
  • Drafting complaints, preliminary injunction motions, dispositive motions and other briefs.
  • Assisting with discovery, including document requests and deposition planning.
  • Handling appellate briefing.
  • Drafting amicus briefs setting forth arguments about democracy protection.
  • Participating in moot courts and assisting counsel with preparation for oral arguments.

Students will have the opportunity to develop substantive knowledge, as well as litigation, oversight, and other practical skills.  They will work closely with experienced former government attorneys.

Enrollment is limited to 12 students.  Although there will be a separate enrollment process for the Spring semester, students who participate in the clinic in the Fall semester will have the option to continue in the Spring, and thus there may be a limited number of slots for new students in the Spring.

Documents to Read

ClinicTalk

Title Date Length Category

An info session presented by

Lecturers on Law Ben Berwick and Justin Florence

03/28/2017
46:31 Audio Play

How to Register

This clinic is offered in the Fall and Spring semester and is limited to 12 students. You can learn about the required clinical course component, clinical credits, additional requirements, and the clinical registration process, by reading the course catalog description and exploring the links in this section.

Faculty and Staff

Ben Berwick (Lecturer on Law)
Justin Florence (Lecturer on Law)

Contact

Maggie Bay
Office of Clinical and Pro Bono Programs
Harvard Law School
6 Everett Street, WCC
Suite 3085
Cambridge, MA 02138
mbay@law.harvard.edu