Each year, there’s a thriving community of military veterans here at Harvard Law School. There are typically 75+ military veterans and active service members in the J.D. program, including commissioned and enlisted members from the Navy, Marines, Army, Air Force, and Coast Guard, as well as veterans of foreign militaries from around the world.
Veterans contribute so much to the academic and social vitality of HLS each year, partly due to their unique life experiences, strong communication and people skills, and leadership training. Across the school, you’ll find veterans leading student organizations, involved with journals, and pursuing research with faculty. If you are a military service member interested in law school, we hope the information shared here helps you envision yourself at Harvard Law School.
A Strong Veteran Community
Veterans at HLS often find community in the Armed Forces Association (AFA). The AFA functions as a meeting point for all members of HLS who have served or are presently serving in the armed forces of the United States or around the world. AFA member veterans support one another in dealing with issues unique to veteran students. Check out these profiles to learn about current HLS students and recent graduates.
Veterans Law and Disability Benefits Clinic
Harvard Law School is also home to the Veterans Legal Clinic. This clinic offers the chance for HLS students to represent veterans and their family members in various case types. Clinical students use creative legal strategies not just to vindicate the rights of individual veterans but also to pursue systemic reforms within the institutions and programs designed to support the veteran community. You can read more about this opportunity below and highlights from the clinic’s activities on their blog.
Learn more about the Veterans Legal Clinic.
Read highlights from the Veterans Legal Clinic activities on their blog.
Application Resources for Veterans
We know applying to law school is a different challenge than what you faced in the military. As you prepare your application, be sure to review these resources, and don’t hesitate to reach out to us with questions.
J.D. Admissions Events
The J.D. Admissions Office typically organizes opportunities for veterans and military service members to learn more about the application process through a webinar or on-campus event. Be sure to review our scheduled programming on the Connect with Admissions page to see upcoming events, including information on the annual Military Prospective Student Series (MPSS).
Navigating Law School Admissions Podcast
Miriam Ingber (Associate Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid at Yale Law School) and Kristi Jobson (Assistant Dean for Admissions at Harvard Law School) provide candid, accurate, and straightforward advice about law school admissions — direct from the source.
Season 3, Episode 5 (Student Voices) features Pablo Lozano ’23. Pablo enlisted in the U.S. Army as a Signal Systems Support Specialist and served as the co-president of the Armed Forces Association.
Service to School
Service to School (S2S) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit that provides free college and grad school application counseling to military veterans and service members.
Financial Aid for Veterans
As a veteran, you may be eligible for benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs through one of the VA’s many benefits programs. SFS is committed to working with students who utilize these educational benefits.
How should I communicate my military experiences effectively to civilian admissions officers who may be unfamiliar with military terminology?
It’s definitely the case that many civilian admissions officers may be unfamiliar with the terminology, abbreviations, and language that’s used in the military. We recommend avoiding jargon in your resume and application essays to ensure the full scope of your military achievements is communicated. Think about how your application materials support your candidacy as a whole. Don’t hesitate to expand on a few items listed on your resume in your essays if they are relevant to the story you are telling.
The resume in particular does not need to be an exhaustive list of your military experiences – aim to condense and summarize as best you can.
It can also be useful to have a civilian friend or colleague read your resume and essays and see what they recommend be clarified or explained.
I’ve asked my military supervisor to write a letter of recommendation for my application. What guidance should I provide them to ensure the letter effectively communicates my accomplishments?
Note that we suggest that every applicant submits at least one academic letter of recommendation from someone who knows you in an academic setting. The other letter can certainly come from a military supervisor. Encourage them to highlight skills, experiences, and accomplishments that translate to the law school experience – anecdotes that demonstrate your teamwork abilities, leadership, good judgement, communication, and interpersonal skills are all helpful to us.
Additionally, we also notice that some military leaders write their letters in a format more effective for military promotion letters than for law school admissions letters (such as writing in “all caps” for emphasis). You may want to sit down with your supervisor beforehand to discuss tone and structure to ensure they are writing a letter that will be most beneficial to you.
Do you have an application fee waiver for members of the military?
We do not offer a fee waiver specifically for military service. We offer only a need-based application fee waiver. You can read more, and submit your request, here.