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Spring 2025 Seminar

Government Lawyer: Semester in Washington Clinical Seminar

To learn more about the Clinical Curriculum and Registration, please visit our Clinical Registration Center. You can also find more information on How to Register for Clinics and How Clinical Credits Work.

For more information about this clinic, please visit the Clinic Website, and OCP Blog Highlights.

Required Clinic Component: Government Lawyer: Semester in Washington Clinic, either during winter-spring (2 winter clinical credits + 8 spring clinical credits) or spring clinic (8 spring clinical credits). Students who are accepted into one of these two clinic offerings (winter-spring or spring) will be enrolled in the clinic and clinical seminar by the Office of Clinical and Pro Bono Programs.

Additional Co-/Pre-Requisites: None.

By Permission: Yes. Applications to the clinic are due August 16, 2024.

Add/Drop Deadline: November 18, 2024 for Winter-Spring clinical students. December 13, 2024 for Spring clinical students.

LLM Students: International students on F-1 student visas are required to have Curricular Practical Training (CPT) authorization; LL.M. students are not eligible for CPT.

This course is offered as part of the Government Lawyer: Semester in Washington Clinic. Students spend the entire spring term (except for spring break) in Washington, D.C. working as legal interns in a federal government office while taking an evening course on government lawyering. Students may also begin the clinical work in the winter term. Students are required to work full-time (40 hours per week) over the winter term (if they begin their clinical placement then) and at least 32 hours per week in the spring term, although most students work full-time in the spring term. Clinical work exposes students to the distinct forms of lawyering practiced by government attorneys in diverse policy positions in the federal government. Placements are principally in federal government offices where lawyers conduct research and provide legal advice and assistance on policy, legislative or regulatory matters, rather than investigating and litigating cases.

Students attend the evening seminar course twice a week during the spring term. Readings and classroom discussions will be supplemented by guest speaker events and visits to government offices on several occasions throughout the semester. Case studies will supplement the core readings. The course will focus on the role of the government lawyer in policymaking and the many forces that influence the work of policymaking generally, and the government lawyer’s part in that process specifically. The course will examine the skills required of government attorneys in policymaking, the unique ethical, legal, and moral issues they face, and the impact of politics and ideology on their work. The course will look at the discourse in policymaking in Washington, why it has changed over time, and the implications of the state of discourse for the government lawyer involved in policymaking, legal advice, and advocacy. Finally, the course will explore the process of policymaking, the use of data and research in policymaking, and the role of the bureaucracy. The course will include student discussions of their experiences in their clinical placements. Guest speakers, including government lawyers, issue advocates, and think tank scholars, will visit the class periodically throughout the semester. Students will be expected to research the background of the guests and participate in class interviews to explore their work. The course may also include visits to government offices to examine, for example, how data used in the policymaking process is actually collected and synthesized. A course paper relating to the student’s work or to classroom subjects will be required in lieu of an examination.

To get an inside view of the Program, students may visit the Semester in Washington page on the OCP website, which contains detailed information about the current year’s syllabus, course requirements, events, funding, housing, placements, etc.

Enrollment is by application and limited to 2L and 3L students. Students must be enrolled full-time at Harvard Law School to apply. Interested students can apply by submitting an application form, current resume, and a writing sample of no more than 10 pages. Apply through an online application form by August 16, 2024.

Students should be aware of their yearly HLS credit minimums, as the spring semester is spent entirely off campus (students will receive 8 spring clinical credits + 3 spring course credits for a total of 11 spring semester credits).  Students who begin their clinical placement in the winter term receive an additional two winter clinical credits).