There are a number of ways to engage in international legal studies during Harvard Law School’s Winter Term. The Law School offers many courses with a significant emphasis on international, foreign or comparative law, several of which are taught in an intensive fashion over winter term. This webpage focuses on opportunities to do independent clinical or research / writing projects abroad during Winter Term.
Clinical Projects: HLS J.D. and LL.M. students may apply to participate in a two-credit Independent or Continuing Clinical during the Winter Term, which involves working 40 hours per week under the supervision of an on-site attorney and in coordination with an HLS faculty sponsor. For more information, please contact the Office of Clinical and Pro Bono Programs in WCC Suite 3085, 6 Everett Street. HLS students are not eligible for credit for an “internship” abroad unless it meets the criteria of an independent clinical placement.
Research / Writing Projects: HLS J.D. and LL.M. students may register for the Winter Term Writing Program. A student who participates in the Winter Term Writing Program devotes his/her Winter Term to intensive, individualized research and writing under the supervision of an HLS faculty member. Please see the Winter Writing Program web page for more information, including specifics regarding credits.
Please note that HLS students may not take courses at a foreign law school as a way of earning credit for Winter Term.
Please be sure to read the Winter Term Grant information and application instructions carefully before completing the application.
HLS J.D. and LL.M. students who will be traveling abroad in furtherance of an approved Winter Term Clinical or Research / Writing project may apply for a Winter Term International Travel Grant.
Funding will be awarded in amounts expected to range from $850 to $2,000 per qualifying student, depending on the strength of a student’s proposal and the financial requirements of the project, as demonstrated in a reasonable and well-constructed budget.
However, students will only receive grants if their proposals are strong, as described in the Necessary Project Elements section below. Undertaking such projects is a serious commitment and requires an investment of time before and after Winter Term.
Program Deadlines and Requirements
In order to be eligible for a Winter Term International Travel Grant, a student must complete two applications: one regarding the substance of the project and the other for the travel grant itself. The process is analogous to applying for admission and financial aid.
Substantive program applications are due as follows:
- J.D. and LL.M. students seeking approval for Independent and Continuing Clinicals projects should submit applications to the Office of Clinical and Pro Bono Programs in WCC Suite 3085, 6 Everett Street by Monday, November 2, 2015.
- J.D. students must register for the Winter Term Writing Program by submitting the required registration form to the Registrar’s Office in Wasserstein 4007 by Friday, November 6, 2015.
- LL.M. students seeking approval for Winter Term Writing Program projects should submit applications to the Graduate Program in Wasserstein 5005 in accordance with information distributed by the Graduate Program.
International travel grant applications are due as follows:
- J.D. students applying for Independent and Continuing Clinicals and for Winter Term Writing Program projects should submit grant applications to International Legal Studies in Wasserstein 5005 by Friday, November 6, 2015.
- LL.M. students applying for Independent and Continuing Clinicals should submit grant applications to International Legal Studies in Wasserstein 5005 by Friday, November 6, 2015.
- LL.M. students applying for Winter Term Writing Program projects should submit grant applications to International Legal Studies in Wasserstein 5005 by Friday, November 13, 2015.
Again, the Winter Term International Travel Grant Program confers a financial grant only. Students are responsible for arranging academic credit for the Winter Term directly with appropriate faculty and offices as specified above.
Eligibility for Funding
In order to be considered for a Winter Term International Travel Grant, an HLS student must:
- Be enrolled as a J.D. or LL.M. student during Winter Term of January 2016.
- Apply for and be approved for a clinical project, or register for a Winter Term Research / Writing project, that will require travel outside of the United States for the duration of Winter Term in January 2016.
- Submit the Winter Term International Travel Grant Application together with all required attachments (see section below on Applications for Funding), including a copy of the Clinical or Winter Term Writing application, to International Legal Studies.
- Demonstrate in the grant application that the travel proposed is critical to the completion of the project.
- Provide evidence of strong faculty support for the project. In the case of Winter Term Writing, a detailed proposal signed by the faculty supervisor is required.
Please note, however, that these are minimum eligibility requirements and meeting them does not necessarily guarantee a Winter Term International Travel Grant. Also, although expenses for international travel can be significant, the Grants Selection Committee is concerned primarily with the quality of the proposed project. The fact that it would be expensive for a student to undertake certain travel is not, in and of itself, the basis for a substantial grant. For further information about what makes a proposal strong, and therefore more likely to receive a grant on the larger end of the spectrum, please see the sections on Necessary Project Elements and Examples of Strong Proposals.
Applicants should also note the following:
- Students who are traveling internationally over Winter Term in conjunction with a class or a group program are not eligible for Winter Term International Travel Grants; they will receive information about funding directly from the faculty responsible for those courses.
- Students who are foreign nationals should be aware of considerations with regard to funding and visas when traveling abroad during their studies and plan accordingly. For this reason international students should be sure to contact the Harvard International Office before committing to any travel outside the United States.
- Students who received Winter Term International Travel Grants for January 2015 are not precluded from applying for funding for January 2016 provided they have met all obligations in relation to the first grant. The proposals of all applicants (whether applying for the first or second time) will be evaluated on their merits in relation to the other proposed projects for 2016.
- Winter Term projects should be conducted between January 4 and 22, 2016, not including travel. If a student obtains permission to vary these dates slightly due to a compelling reason, the project period must still encompass a minimum of 14 working days.
Projects and Placements
Students have participated in a wide variety of international projects and placements during the Winter Term. Examples of past research / writing project topics include: changes to the Russian visa regime and its effect on non-governmental organizations; universal jurisdiction in French courts; legal strategies for economic development to protect traditional resource users in Mali; the effect of co-determination on German corporate governance; and gang violence in El Salvador and human rights abuses in the government’s response, among others. Students should consult with their faculty supervisors about the best direction for writing projects.
Examples of past clinical placements include: the Australian Law Reform Commission; South Africa’s National Prosecuting Authority; the Documentation Center of Cambodia; the Public Interest Law Institute in Hungary; and the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law. Students may wish to consult with the Clinical and Pro Bono Programs Office for guidance on projects of interest.
Students need to consider the potential value of their projects as well as possible risks and challenges. Winter Term is quite short and students must think carefully about the scope and work plan of their projects. Prior grant recipients have reported that, despite their best intentions, travel to and research in more than one country over Winter Term proved to be much more challenging than they anticipated and, in some cases, was infeasible.
Inevitably, students who prepare in advance both substantively (e.g., reading, consulting with people who have relevant expertise, arranging meetings for Winter Term) and in terms of logistics (e.g., accommodations, transportation, and even safety) have a much better and more productive Winter Term experience. Conducting clinical work or research abroad can pose particular challenges and students need to try to anticipate how they will adapt to different conditions.
Properly planned Winter Term projects can be fascinating and rewarding. Some students have considered Winter Term abroad to be the highlight of their time at HLS. But in order for these Winter Term projects to be successful, students must plan and prepare appropriately.
Necessary Project Elements
Although the topics and methodologies of projects can range considerably, certain elements contribute to the strength and success of a project proposal. In deciding which projects merit grants, and the amounts of those grants, the Selection Committee will consider:
- the necessity of travel in order to complete the project
- the reasons the student wants to undertake the project, including its relation to the student’s goals, and academic, intellectual, practical and other experiences
- the appropriateness of the scope and the feasibility of the project
- the student’s qualifications for the project, including foreign language proficiency if relevant
- the potential impact of the project
- the thoughtfulness, clarity, and completeness of the proposal
- the correlation between the project and the area of expertise of the student’s HLS faculty supervisor
- the relationship of the proposed budget to the outlined project
For examples of elements that made some recent proposals compelling, please see the section below entitled Examples of Strong Proposals.
Pair or Group Projects
Winter Term International Travel Grants will be awarded on an individual basis so that the program can support a variety of well-conceived projects. Students who propose to undertake a project in a pair or small group must submit separate applications and provide a detailed explanation of why each student is necessary and the specific role s/he will play. Usually no more than three students may receive funding for the same independent Winter Term project though exceptions may be made if circumstances warrant. As applications will be evaluated independently, it is possible that students working together will not all be awarded grants or that, if they are, the amounts may differ.
Use of Human Subjects
Students are responsible for the ethical implications of their research. If a student’s project includes research involving human subjects, including interviews, surveys, or obtaining information by other means, it may require review by the Committee on the Use of Human Subjects. Please review the information on their website; for additional questions after reviewing that information please contact email@example.com.
Grant Amounts and Funding Guidelines
Winter Term International Travel Grants will not exceed the amount of anticipated, reasonable expenses detailed in the grant application. Funding will be awarded to qualifying students in amounts expected to range from $850 to $2,000 per student. Grants will not exceed $2,500 per student save in exceptional circumstances justified in the application budget.
Please note that students opting to purchase plane tickets in advance of the November grant notification date should be aware that grants are not guaranteed. Therefore, students should plan carefully to secure the funding needed and may wish to purchase cancellation insurance.
The budget proposal should include only reasonable expenses that are necessary for the completion of the project. Students should try to secure the least expensive flights possible. If travel will not originate in Boston, it should be because it is less costly to travel from another city to the destination than it is to travel from Boston to the destination. Other expenses such as lodging can be included in the budget proposal for funding consideration if they are necessary costs. However, expenses related to retaining an apartment in Cambridge, MA while traveling abroad cannot be included in budget proposals. Expenses must also be verifiable – a student will be asked in his/her budget proposal to specify where s/he found the prices noted, and will need to provide receipts upon his/her return.
Winter term international travel grants are not guaranteed and those students who receive grants may be awarded amounts that are less than their anticipated expenses. Therefore, students are encouraged to seek out additional ways to defray travel expenses well in advance of winter term. The Sources of Funding section below provides links to research centers and programs that might be of interest. A J.D. student who does not receive sufficient funding for his/her project may inquire with J.D. Student Financial Services about a possible loan to cover a shortfall in Winter Term project expenses.
Applications for Funding
J.D. and LL.M. students doing Independent or Continuing Clinicals and J.D. students participating in Winter Term Writing must submit their applications in hard copy by 5:00 p.m. on Friday, November 6, 2015 to International Legal Studies in Wasserstein 5005.
LL.M. students applying for the Winter Term Writing Program must submit their grant applications in hard copy by Friday, November 13, 2015 to International Legal Studies in Wasserstein 5005.
Applications for Winter Term International Travel Grants must include the following:
- Application form which includes the Project Proposal Summary and Budget Proposal
- A letter (sent by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or campus mail to International Legal Studies in Wasserstein 5005) from the student’s HLS faculty supervisor. The letter should indicate that the faculty member has reviewed the proposed project and offer comments on its merit and the student’s ability to conduct the work outlined. The more substantive and detailed the letter, the more useful it will be in the Selection Committee’s deliberations.
- Current HLS official transcript from the Registrar’s Office. Please note that requests for official transcripts may take 3-5 days to process so grant applicants should plan accordingly.
- Resume or curriculum vitae
- A copy of the student’s program application or registration form (J.D. or LL.M. Winter Term Writing Program, Independent or Continuing Clinical). Specific program application requirements and forms can be found here:
- For students conducting research / writing projects: a bibliography of basic sources on the topic they wish to explore
- J.D. students and LLM students conducting clinical projects will be notified by Monday, November 23, 2015 whether they have been awarded a Winter Term International Travel Grant and, if so, the amount. Students have until Monday, December 7, 2015 to accept the grant.
- LL.M. students who apply for the Winter Term Writing Program will be advised of funding decisions on a rolling basis. Please note that LL.M. students must receive Graduate Program approval for their writing proposals before they will receive a notification about their grant applications.
Award Conditions and Grant Payment Schedule
Upon notification that a student has been awarded a grant, s/he will receive a grant agreement as well as relevant information about the grant. All steps specified in the grant agreement must be completed by the stipulated deadlines, or the student will be asked to reimburse his/her grant in full to Harvard Law School.
In order to receive a grant, a student must complete the following steps no later than Monday, December 7, 2015:
- Review, complete, sign and return the Winter Term International Travel Grant Agreement.
- Review, complete, sign and return the Assumption of Risk and General Release Form.
- Register the trip in the Harvard Travel Registry.
- Attend either of the two mandatory pre-departure information sessions.These sessions will be held from 12:00 to 1:00 p.m. on Tuesday, December 1, 2015, and from 12:00 to 1:00 p.m. on Monday, December 7, 2015.
- Submit verification of travel costs (in the form of either receipts or credit card statements).In the event that verification of a portion of travel costs can only be provided upon return, a student should submit as much as possible prior to Winter Term and the remainder upon his/her return to HLS no later than Monday, February 15, 2016. HLS reserves the right to seek reimbursement of funds for any portion of a grant that a student is unable to substantiate.
- If a student is not a US citizen, s/he may be requested to submit additional information including copies of visa documents.
Once a student completes and submits all appropriate paperwork, it generally takes at least three weeks to receive a check. Students should not expect to receive checks before the end of the HLS final exam period in December.
Students must complete the final grant requirements no later than Monday, February 15, 2016:
- Submit a five-page report about the Winter Term work to email@example.com. This report is related to the grant only and is not a substitute for any academic writing requirements in relation to the Winter Writing Program or Clinical Program. This report should, however, provide information about the substance of the work conducted. Students should describe what they did, how they conducted the work, what they were able to accomplish, what they learned (e.g. what did interviews or work reveal) and conclusions reached, and any other pertinent details. Please note that reports should be freestanding and may be shared with funders and other individuals, so students should take care to review the report before submission.
- Submit verification of any travel costs (in the form of receipts or credit card statements) not provided before the student’s departure.
We hope that all students who receive Winter Term International Travel Grants will be able to take advantage of the funding. However, if a student does not pursue or complete his/her project in substantially the form proposed, unless a change has been approved in advance by the Grants Committee, then s/he is responsible for notifying the grant committee and returning any funding received.
Sources of Funding
Sources of funding for the Winter Term International Travel Grant Program include the Cravath International Fellowships, the Human Rights Program, the Reginald F. Lewis Internship Program, the Mead Cross Cultural Stipends, and the Andrew B. Steinberg Scholarships. Their funding priorities are described below for informational purposes. However, there is no need for students to apply separately for these programs as they will be coordinated as part of the Winter Term International Travel Grant Program.
Cravath International Fellowships provide funding to a selected number of HLS students to pursue academic projects with an international, transnational, or comparative law focus. Priority will be given to J.D. students, but LL.M. students are also eligible to compete for selection. Although Cravath Fellows’ projects may involve clinical placements, efforts will be made to first fund the strongest research proposals.
The Human Rights Program awards a small number of grants to HLS students conducting human rights research abroad during Winter Term. The program’s emphasis is on research for Winter Term Writing involving research in the developing world. HRP will also consider proposals from students traveling to the developing world in connection with human rights clinical or advocacy projects. (Note: the Human Rights Program will only sponsor students who have previously participated in a HRP clinical.)
Reginald F. Lewis Internship grants are available for research and clinical projects of an international nature. Past Lewis internship grants have supported work relating to law and development, environmental law, human rights, and international business, trade, and poverty, among other areas of focus.
Mead Cross Cultural Stipends are available to fund research, clinical work, study or other educational endeavors to be undertaken by students during the winter term that foster a better understanding and appreciation of differences in jurisprudence among cultures, and to advance Harvard Law School’s goal to provide comparative international legal experiences.
Andrew B. Steinberg Scholarships are awarded to J.D. students undertaking clinical or research and writing work that will foster empathy and cultural understanding, and develop the advocacy and creative problem-solving skills that the late Honorable Andrew Steinberg ’84 found integral to his own international experiences and legal career. Special consideration will be given to projects relating to antitrust law, aviation, environmental law, technology, or international law.
Depending on the nature of the project, students may also wish to inquire directly with various research centers and programs at Harvard Law School or research centers and programs throughout Harvard University about possible sources of funding. Students are responsible for securing adequate funding for their project-related travel and expenses, so should be enterprising in seeking out multiple sources of funds well in advance of Winter Term.
Examples of Strong Proposals
Here are examples of elements that made some recent proposals compelling:
Student A had secured a clinical placement with a non-profit organization in Australia that dealt with art law. His project involved license agreements for artists participating in creative enterprise hubs designed to revitalize city centers. The student had practical and academic experience with art / entertainment law and intellectual property law and policy. He described specifically how his Winter Term work would build on skills and knowledge he had gained through experiences prior to law school, summer jobs, and courses at HLS, as well as how the clinical placement would allow him to gain understanding in a practice area that directly related to work he hoped to do after law school. It also seemed that the student would be able to contribute significantly to the placement organization. The application included a strong endorsement from his faculty advisor which confirmed the sense of the Selection Committee that the student was well-positioned for an effective Winter Term project.
Student B wished to travel to South Korea to conduct research for a paper on a pilot program to assess whether the country should adopt a jury system. He intended to observe and review records of jury trials that were not available elsewhere, and to interview Korean lawyers and judges. The student had worked in South Korea previously and possessed the necessary foreign language skills to conduct his research independently. It was clear from the student’s proposal — and the recommendation from the HLS faculty member supervising him — that he had conducted a good amount of research on the topic in the fall semester. He was able to identify specific research questions and had contacted key individuals in South Korea to enlist support in arranging access during his visit. (The student’s paper was later accepted for publication in a noted peer-reviewed journal, though this accomplishment was exceptional rather than the norm for Winter Term projects.)
Student C conducted an independent clinical with the International Labor Organization office in Thailand. Her project examined labor protection and migration laws in the region, a logical outgrowth of her previous clinical and summer work in Asia and the US on anti-trafficking laws and immigration reform. She had taken a number of courses at HLS that provided her with relevant context for her Winter Term placement, and was able to articulate clearly how her project would be structured and what she hoped to learn from it.
Conversely, here are examples of problems with proposals that have resulted in the students not being granted funding:
- The research topic or scope of the clinical project was deemed overly broad for a three-week period.
- The research methodology was unclear – the student did not explain what she would do while she was abroad or how it would differ from research she could conduct in Harvard libraries.
- The project was predicated on conducting interviews but contained almost no information about how these interviews would be arranged, what type of questions the student would ask, or whether her foreign language skills were sufficient.
- The student was unfamiliar with basic operational practices in the foreign country to which he wished to travel, and failed to ascertain that the institutions where he intended to conduct research would be closed in January.
- The student had not communicated adequately with the placement organization; she had only been in contact with her proposed supervisor briefly with a short e-mail exchange, and did not know what her clinical work would consist of.
- The letter from a student’s proposed HLS faculty supervisor expressed concerns about the student’s qualifications or proposed project.
These examples do not constitute a comprehensive survey of strong and weak aspects of projects, but illustrate some key aspects the Selection Committee considers when evaluating proposals. It is not necessary for a student to have spent time previously in the country to which s/he plans to travel over Winter Term, but familiarity with the local context and language can be critical to working effectively. And while it is certainly possible for a student to spend Winter Term exploring a topic of recent rather than long-standing interest, the topic and destination should have some relevance to the student’s areas of study, skills, and experience, and not be a random choice or a thinly veiled justification for a leisure trip. Simply identifying an intriguing topic is not sufficient; a student must indicate how s/he will be able to do serious work on the subject over Winter Term.
For Further Information or Questions
Students should direct questions as follows:
J.D. Winter Term Writing Program
LL.M. Winter Term Writing Program
Independent or Continuing Clinical Projects
Office of Clinical and Pro Bono Programs
WCC 3085, 6 Everett Street
Winter Term International Travel Grant Program
International Legal Studies