The Election Law Clinic offers Harvard Law students the opportunity to do hands-on litigation and advocacy work across a range of election law areas, with an initial focus on redistricting and vote suppression cases. Clinic offerings will include federal and state litigation projects, as well as some advocacy opportunities.
Under the supervision of Clinical Director Ruth Greenwood, clinic students will work on every aspect of litigation, including pre-filing investigations, meeting and retaining clients, engaging in lay and expert discovery, briefing and arguing dispositive motions, pre-trial preparations and trial practice, as well as the appellate process. Election law cases rely heavily on political scientists as experts, so students will have broad exposure to emerging theories and methods in political science and how to communicate them to a legal audience. Students will also engage in one-off amicus brief work for cases of national importance. Professor Nicholas Stephanopoulos will provide strategic guidance and supervision for briefing, expert discovery, and appellate work.
In addition to the regular caseload, students will work on advocacy opportunities such as drafting legislation, legislative testimony, and engaging experts in the policy advocacy process at the federal and state levels. There will also be opportunities to attend national and state coalition meetings that include lawyers, organizers, and communications experts.
How to Apply
The Election Law Clinic is offered in the Fall and Spring semesters. You can learn about clinical credits and the clinical application process by reading the course catalog description and exploring the links in this section.
Application Deadline: April 28, 2023
Transfer Student Application Deadline: July 15, 2023
Meet the Instructors
Director; Visiting Assistant Clinical Professor of Law
Ruth is the Director of the Election Law Clinic. She engages in litigation and advocacy on a variety of election law cases, while training the next generation of election lawyers.
Ruth litigated two partisan gerrymandering cases from the trial level to the Supreme Court of the United States, Gill v. Whitford and Rucho v. Common Cause, and has litigated voting rights acts claims at the state and federal level. In addition, Ruth has advised dozens of state advocates on drafting and implementing independent redistricting commissions, state voting rights acts, and adopting ranked choice voting. Some of her publications include: Designing Independent Redistricting Commissions, Designing State VRAs, the Civic Benefits of Ranked Choice Voting, and Fair Representation in Local Government.
Ruth was previously the Co-Director of Voting Rights and Redistricting at the Campaign Legal Center, Lead Counsel for Voting Rights at the Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, and a Redistricting Fellow with the Democratic National Committee’s Voting Rights Institute. She received her LL.M from Columbia Law School in 2009, and her LL.B./B.Sc. from the University of Sydney in 2005. Ruth is admitted to practice as an attorney in Massachusetts, Illinois and New York.
Kirkland and Ellis Professor of Law; Director of Strategy
Nicholas Stephanopoulos provides strategic advice for clinic cases, helps to litigate some of these matters, and is involved in supervising student work.
Professor Nicholas Stephanopoulos’s research and teaching interests include election law, constitutional law, administrative law, legislation, and comparative law. His work is particularly focused on the intersection of democratic theory, empirical political science, and the American electoral system. His academic articles have appeared in, among others, the California Law Review, Columbia Law Review, Duke Law Journal, Harvard Law Review, Northwestern University Law Review, New York University Law Review, Stanford Law Review, University of Chicago Law Review, University of Pennsylvania Law Review, Virginia Law Review, and Yale Law Journal. He has also written for popular publications including the New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Atlantic, New Republic, Slate, and Vox. He has been involved in several litigation efforts as well, including two partisan gerrymandering cases based on his scholarship and decided by the Supreme Court.
Litigation Director; Clinical Instructor
Theresa is the Litigation Director and a clinical instructor at the Election Law Clinic. Prior to joining the ELC, she was a Senior Staff Attorney in the ACLU Voting Rights Project. At the ACLU, Theresa litigated voting rights cases throughout the country, including challenges to restrictions on voter registration, felony disenfranchisement, and discriminatory voter identification and registration requirements.
Before becoming a voting rights litigator, Theresa practiced at two law firms in New York. She was a law clerk to the Hon. Rosemary S. Pooler of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, and previously litigated with the San Francisco City Attorney’s Office and taught an accompanying clinic at Yale Law School. Theresa received her J.D. from Yale Law School, and holds a master’s degree from the New School for Social Research and a bachelor’s degree from Fordham University. She is admitted to practice in New York.
Daniel Hessel is a clinical instructor in the Election Law Clinic. He is a graduate of Northwestern University and Yale Law School. He clerked for Judge Christopher R. Cooper of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. Before joining the Clinic, he litigated election law cases with the Campaign Legal Center and environmental cases with the Natural Resources Defense Council.
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In the News
Clinical Experiences with Electoral Count Act Reform and the Independent State Legislature Theory
By Zachary Goldstein ’23 For those members of the Class of 2023 who are interested in the intersection of law and politics, our time at law school has been anything but calm. Over the three years, we have witnessed two Supreme Court confirmation hearings, the 2020 presidential election and the efforts by some to subvert
March 21, 2023
A matter of ‘life or death’
Harvard Law School’s Election Law Clinic partners with organizers in Jacksonville, Florida to score important victories for voting rights By Rachel ReedVia Harvard Law Today Since 2000, Jacksonville’s Black population has risen, even as the share of white residents has plummeted by 11 percent. But the demographic changes that might have led to greater representation
February 8, 2023
Protecting the right to vote in the Election Law Clinic
By Regina Fairfax ’24 I came to Harvard Law School with a passion for Voting Rights and public service. In my year between college and HLS, I joined the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund to work on key issues of Voting Rights, Election Protection, and Census work during the 2020 Election and Census year.
January 18, 2023
Introducing RPV Near Me
By Ruth Greenwood Via Election Law Blog The Election Law Clinic at Harvard Law School (“ELC”) now offers free access to summary measures of racially polarized voting (“RPV”) for every county in the country. The analysis was conducted by Christopher T. Kenny, a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Government at Harvard University. All the results are available to view and download.
January 9, 2023
Election Law Clinic presents oral arguments in Jacksonville racial gerrymandering case
On Friday, September 16, Election Law Clinic clinical instructor Daniel Hessel led the plaintiff’s oral arguments during Jacksonville Branch of the NAACP v. City of Jacksonville’s preliminary injunction hearing, arguing against the use of racially biased redistricting maps in the 2023 and 2024 city council and school board elections. The case was filed last spring,
September 23, 2022