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Spring 2023 Seminar

Special Education Advocacy for Students Impacted by Trauma

Enrollment in this clinic will fulfill the HLS JD pro bono requirement.

Required Clinic Component: Education Law Clinic: Individual Representation (4-5 spring clinical credits). This clinic and course are bundled; your enrollment in the clinic will automatically enroll you in this required course.
Additional Co-/Pre-Requisites: None.
By Permission: No.
Add/Drop Deadline: Early drop of November 18, 2022.
LLM Students: LLM students may apply to the clinic through the LLM General Clinic Application.

Students must attend a mandatory orientation session on Friday, January 27, 2023 from 1:00-4:00pm.

In this seminar associated with the Education Law Clinic: Individual Representation students learn the theory and skills of case advocacy and its role in larger systemic change remedies. Students will learn to provide effective direct representation to low-income clients in the special education system. The course is organized around a series of hands-on simulations, designed to help students develop the following skills: interviewing and counseling clients; reading and interpreting educational evaluations; preparing and interviewing expert witnesses; identifying substantive and procedural violations; formulating legal arguments and theories of the case; engaging in oral advocacy at the school level and/or in administrative appeals; and interacting and negotiating with opposing counsel. In a typical semester, a hearing officer from the Massachusetts Bureau of Special Education Appeals visits the course and presides over a simulated pre-hearing conference. In addition to building these concrete skills, the course will introduce students to a theoretical orientation that encourages them to see the individual child in a holistic way and to use their developing legal skills to construct compelling narratives and obtain individual remedies that embrace all parts of the child. Students will also learn how to identify systemic problems, assess the education system’s response to at-risk children, and reflect on the challenges and rewards of interdisciplinary advocacy at the intersection of the fields of law, education, neurobiology, psychology, and public policy. Students will learn about the impact that traumatic experiences can have on children’s learning, behavior and relationships in school and about the ongoing multi-strategic advocacy campaign for safe and supportive school environments that is being conducted by the Trauma and Learning Policy Initiative (TLPI), a partnership between HLS and Massachusetts Advocates for Children. There is no final examination for this course; students will prepare a “rounds” memo and presentation in which they lead a discussion with their colleagues based on their clinic case. Please refer to the Office of Clinical and Pro Bono Programs ( for clinical registration dates and early add/drop deadlines.

Note: This course will meet 23 Everett Street.