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Group of students walking outside along a banner-lined path at Harvard Law School
Credit: Lorin Granger

1L can be hard, but knowledge is power. 

Sections and the BSA are the cornerstones around which your 1L year is built. Learn about them here!


1L Sections

The 1L Section Initiative extends beyond traditional notions of curriculum, considering class size, providing students with feedback and appropriate advising, the proper balance between a required and elective curriculum in the first year, and improving the sense of student community, especially in the first year.

The 1L Sections program implemented in 2001 reduced the 1L class size to 7 sections of 80 students each. 1L Faculty Leaders guide and support students through their first year at HLS by providing a wide variety of section activities that are stimulating, challenging, and fun, facilitating faculty/student interaction and promoting community within the section.

Faculty leaders and self-selected student volunteers generate ideas for intellectual events and social activities for their section throughout the academic year. Implementation (all room reservations, media and food/beverage requests) of these events, and budget oversight is provided by the Dean of Students Office.

  • 1L Events

    Annual events include your faculty leader’s welcome dinner, section advising sessions, an end of Fall term or Winter term party, and the 1L Section Picnic (held after the last exam in spring term).

    Faculty also host numerous events, such as section socials, movie or t.v. nights, game nights, and section review sessions.

  • Section Social Committee

    1L faculty leaders guide and support students through their first year at HLS by providing a wide variety of section activities that are stimulating, challenging, and fun. The section committee plans interactions and promotes community within the section.

    Faculty leaders and self-selected student volunteers (known as the section committee), in consultation with the rest of the section, generate ideas for social activities for the section throughout the academic year.

  • Section Committee Guide


    Each section committee is allocated a set amount for events and activities throughout the academic year.  Most purchases (events/activities) are paid through internal billing (including Room Reservations/Media Services/Guest Speaker Travel/Catering).

    Accordingly, the focus of the section committee budget is for social events. Each Section Committee should check with DOS regarding all planning, especially for specific events, such as the End of Year Party.

    Section Committees have hosted a variety of events over the years so you are encouraged to be creative.  The events listed below provide a general sense of events held by past sections.

    Possible Events

      • End of Fall Semester/Winter Term Party
      • Movie Nights, TV viewing – Political Debates, Local and National Elections Coverage, Current Events
      • Game Nights
      • Ice Cream Socials
      • Pub Nights
      • Section Review Sessions, Study Groups
      • Other outings, e.g. pizza and bowling, sporting events, apple picking, hiking, general exploring (such as going to Salem)

    Expectations for Section Events 

    • In order for a Section Event to be classified as such, it must include at least a majority of the section.
    • Sections may choose to co-program with other sections.
    • Section events must be communicated to the entire section via the Canvas website well in advance of the event.
    • When planning section meals, please communicate with DOS to be sure you accommodate all dietary restrictions for the members of your section.
    • When planning section events, please be sure you accommodate religious holidays and observances.

    Planning Your Event

    If there is an event you would like to host for your section, please email DOS to set up a meeting and go over details. DOS will also be able to advise about potential conflicts. In order to have a sufficient amount of time to plan and promote the event, you should begin the process at least two weeks in advance. All contracts relating to events should be signed by a DOS staff member; you should not be signing any contracts.

    Section Swag

    Sections often design t-shirts.  T-shirts (or any other items) must be purchased through a Harvard certified vendor and designs must be approved by the Harvard Trademark Office.  Prior to submission, please read more about Harvard’s Trademark Program Policies.

    However, please keep in mind that the primary function for your section budget is for social events. While you are allowed to purchase swag, this should not be the majority of your budget. Harvard maintains a list of preferred vendors, which you should consult for any swag purchases. In addition, it can be beneficial to work with vendors that are familiar with HLS policies and procedures.

    If you plan on purchasing swag for you section, please keep in mind that no individual should have to pay out-of-pocket; this expense should be covered by your budget!

  • General Policies for HLS Student Activities

    Section Committees must comply with the Harvard Law School Drug and Alcohol Policy for all events on and off campus whenever section funds or resources are used.

    Highlights of this policy:

    • All HLS sponsored events can serve beer and wine only (no liquor) and allow for a maximum of two drink tickets per person.
    • All on campus events offering alcohol must have alcohol provided and served by the in-house catering company, Harvard University Dining Services (HUDS).
    • All off campus events must be held in a restaurant or bar (no house parties). You may not purchase alcohol to serve at an event. Any alcohol being served must be done by venue staff.
    • All events offering alcohol must also serve a substantial amount of food. That amount is to be determined by DOS.
    • All events offering alcohol must also serve a substantial amount of non-alcoholic beverages. That amount is to be determined by DOS.

    Other policies:

    • HUDS has exclusivity (meaning you can only use HUDS) in specific spaces on campus. This includes: Milstein East and West, Hark South, The Pub, Belinda Sutton Quadrangle.  This does not include: Holmes Field, Classrooms (WCC, Austin, Langdell, Griswold, Pound, Hauser, Lewis) and the Student Orgs room.
    • If you would like to purchase a gift for professors, or any Harvard student or employee, it must be under $75; gift cards are NOT ALLOWED (IRS purposes – just think, “Harvard cannot give Harvard monetary gifts.”).
    • Purchases for your section must be made through DOS.
    • All out of pocket purchases for your Section must be approved by DOS in advance. The reimbursement form should be filled out as soon as possible and MUST include a receipt.
  • Advertising your event

    Review the rules, guidelines, and tips for advertising your event.

The Board of Student Advisers

The Board of Student Advisers (BSAs for short) are 2Ls and 3Ls selected for their skill in advising and teaching and serve as resources for the first-year class.

In addition to serving as mentors and guides for the 1L year, the 42 BSAs are teaching assistants in the First Year Legal Research & Writing Program (LRW). They also administer two key appellate argument programs: the Ames Moot Court competition, and the 1L Ames Moot Court program.

Your BSA will host office hours and study breaks throughout the year. You can call on your BSA with questions about HLS, Cambridge, managing the transition to law school, or even where to get the best ice cream.

Contact the Dean of Students Office with any questions about the BSA program.