At Harvard Law School, the academic year consists of a fall, a winter and a spring term. Winter term is a three-week period in January each year. In order to graduate, J.D. students must complete three winter terms. LL.M. students must complete winter term during the year they spend at HLS
First-Year J.D. Students
January Experiential Term
First-year J.D. students take an experiential learning course during the winter term. The courses cover a broad array of skills and are designed to introduce first-year students to various dimensions of the practice of law.
All Other Students
Second- and third-year and LL.M. students may choose among a number of options for winter term. Some of our students enroll in HLS courses offered in the winter term and receive law school classroom credits. Other students devote the winter term to doing the research for or to writing a substantial paper under the supervision of an HLS faculty member through the Winter Writing Program. Students with prior approval may travel – domestically or abroad – to conduct research that they have shown cannot be done in Cambridge and is necessary to the success of the project.
Students interested in a legal practice experience may participate in a clinical during the winter term, which allows them to spend the three week term doing direct client services or research and writing for a non-profit, government, or public interest organization. For students who have taken a clinical in a prior semester, the winter term offers the chance to extend that placement, if approved, through a continuing clinical. For subject areas not covered by existing clinical programs, students may, with Clinical Program approval, set up either a domestic or international independent clinical placement.
Students whose Winter Writing Program projects or independent clinical placements will take them overseas may apply for funding through the HLS winter term international travel grant program.