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How do I learn more about the clinical opportunities at HLS? 

Harvard Law School has a robust clinical program that offers a wide variety of legal learning experiences. The resources below will give you some context about the general program and teaching pedagogy, as well as more specific information relative to each of our individual clinics. 

Welcome Video with Sheryl Dickey and Maggie Bay – Before delving into the rest of the information available to you on our website, please watch this 4-minute welcome video that outlines the clinical programs at HLS and gives context to the structure of clinical work and supervision, student schedules, and academic clinical credits. 

LL.M. In-House Clinics Skills Matrix (Note: You must be signed in to your HLS clinical email account to access this document) – The Skills Matrix is a high-level summary of the clinics available to LL.M. students. It is a great place to start and begin narrowing down the clinics that you might be interested in participating in. The matrix provides basic information about: 

  • the type of legal work the clinic engages in 
  • the legal skills that students will be tasked with 
  • what semester(s) the clinic is offered and what it’s physical location is 
  • how many LL.M. seats are available in the clinic

Clinics in a Minute – Our ongoing social media series “Clinics in a Minute” consists of 60-second videos that highlight what it’s like to be a student in our various clinics and Student Practice Organizations.  These videos can help prospective students learn more about each clinic’s environment and what work students in the clinic have done in the past. 

HLS Course Catalog – The Course Catalog is a great place to learn more about individual clinics, once you’ve narrowed down your interests. Each clinic description in the Course Catalog has links at the top of the description to: 

  • the clinic’s individual website 
  • a Q&A session with a clinical supervisor from the clinic 
  • stories about the clinic’s work featured on the OCP blog 

Helios Evaluations – Helios serves as the primary student information system at HLS.  You will select your courses through Helios and be able to view your course schedule, grades and exam related information here.  Helios also contains clinical placement evaluations from past clinical students.  These evaluations are a great way to hear more about the student experience in each clinic. 

You will also find contact information for students who have participated in each clinic, who you can reach out to if you have any questions. 

How do I enroll in a clinic?

Most of our in-house clinics are available to preference during Phase 2 clinic and course selection. Please review the Graduate Program’s website on the Course Selection Process for more information about the overall process. During selection, students only bid on the clinical component – if enrolled, the enrollment then consists of the clinic and the required clinical seminar. For example, a student would place a bid on the Animal Law & Policy Clinic (Fall 2024), and if enrolled, their registrations would consist of two components: the Animal Law & Policy Clinic and the Animal Law & Policy Clinical Seminar. 

There are a handful of clinics that are not included in Helios selection, and instead require students to submit an application. A list of these clinics can be found here

More information about the course selection process can be found on the Graduate Program’s website: https://hls.harvard.edu/course-selection-and-other-essential-information/choosing-your-courses/course-selection-general-information/ 

After you’ve enrolled in a clinic you can choose to drop it, as long as the add/drop period for the clinic is still open. 

General Clinic Add/Drop Deadlines: 

  • Fall 2024: August 23, 2024 (Please note that some clinics have even earlier drop deadlines) 
  • Winter 2025: November 18, 2024 (Please note that some clinics have even earlier drop deadlines) 
  • Spring 2025: December 13, 2025 (Please note that some clinics have even earlier drop deadlines) 

How do clinical credits work?

Most clinics require students to enroll for a minimum of 5 credits (including the course component credits). Students are generally required to work a minimum of 12 hours each week in addition to the hours required for preparation and participation in the related course! 

Most clinics allow students to register for a range of clinical credits. More information about clinical credits can be found here

During clinic and course selection, students should always submit their bid for the lowest number of clinical credits available, to avoid maxing out on their available credits for that semester. For example, when placing a bid on the Cyberlaw Clinic (Spring 2025), Helios will ask you if you want to select the clinic for 3, 4 or 5 clinical credits – you should select the 3 credit option. 

Students can increase (or decrease) their clinical credits for about a month into the semester that they are participating in the clinic.   

Deadlines to adjust clinical credits for 24-25AY: 

  • Fall 2024 – October 4, 2024 
  • Spring 2025 – February 14, 2025 

You can also participate in other not-for-credit pro bono opportunities, outside of the academic clinical program, through our Student Practice Organizations. You do not need to register for these opportunities because they are not offered for academic credit. If you are interested in not-for-credit pro bono work, look out for announcements this fall about the full range of pro bono opportunities. 

Students engage in these opportunities because they would like to serve the community and are interested in gaining practical experience. Students who are also seeking pro bono opportunities to fulfill the New York State Bar pro bono requirement, as set out in Rule 520.16, should note that some – but not necessarily all – of the work done by the SPOs may qualify for the requirement.  LL.M.s should review the NY Pro Bono Requirement carefully to determine if the specific pro bono work that they are engaged in with an SPO meets the requirements of Rule 520.16. 

Frequently asked questions

  • Why do clinics and clinical seminars have early drop deadlines?

    Clinics are taking on real cases and serving real clients – in order to finalize their caseloads and being the process of onboarding new student attorneys, students have to commit to their clinic participation earlier than for non-clinical courses. 

  • Do I need any prior academic or professional experience to participate in a clinic?

    No. Applicants need not have prior legal or academic experience in the issue areas that a clinic works in. Students will receive the necessary training on the relevant substantive issues and skills required to work in a clinic. Students with a new or exploratory interest in a field are welcome to apply.  

  • If I enroll in a clinic during the clinic and course selection period, am I able to drop it later without penalty?

    Yes, as long as the drop deadline for the clinic has not passed, you are able to drop a clinic without any penalty. Check the clinic’s description in the HLS Course Catalog to confirm the drop deadline. 

  • How do I learn more about what cases/projects will be available to students for a particular semester?

    Due to confidentiality, students who are not enrolled in a clinic cannot receive information specific to the cases and/or projects of the clinic. Consequently, students must enroll in a clinic without knowing exactly what clinical work they will be assigned for the semesterEach of our clinics has a process in place to solicit student preferences as they assign clinical cases/projects to studentsWhile specific case/project information cannot be shared prior to enrollment, students are welcome to contact individual clinics to ask questions and learn more about the general work of the clinic – clinics are more than happy to share non-confidential information as you consider whether you want to participate or not. 

  • How much do clinic waitlists move?

    Fall clinic waitlists do not move much, if at all – the time between clinic and course selection and the fall clinical drop deadlines is very brief.  

    For spring clinic waitlists, you can generally expect a lot of movementWe are regularly able to clear out the waitlists for most of our spring clinics, meaning that every student on the waitlist was given the offer to enroll. 

  • Do clinics meet the requirements for courses that count towards eligibility to sit for the New York Bar Exam?

    If you are a student hoping to establish eligibility to sit for the New York Bar Exam through a qualifying LL.M. degree, please note that under Rule 520.6(b)(3)(vii)(a), you will likely be able to count your credit hours earned in clinical courses and other experiential courses towards the required credits. At HLS, this includes both in-house clinics and externships. Please consult the Graduate Program if you have additional questions related to eligibility.