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The new 1L January Experiential Term curriculum allows first-year students to explore different areas of law and experience what it’s like to practice law in different settings. Offered during winter term, each of the nine courses offered in the curriculum emphasizes teamwork, skills training, and self-reflection. The courses are designed to help students bridge the gap between academic courses and practical lawyering, while making connections with fellow first-year classmates.

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  • Advocacy: Beyond the Courtroom

    This is a course about advocacy and is designed to help build advocacy skills and learn more about the many ways in which lawyers advocate—for their clients, for issues, and for their own ideas.  Taught by practicing attorneys, this course explores the role of lawyers as advocates in impact litigation, in deals, in legislatures, and in the public eye. Through interactive exercises and team-based work, students learn how to advance a client’s interest in a variety of different contexts. In addition to course readings and writing assignments, students work in teams to research, prepare and draft an advocacy plan in lieu of a final exam.

    Faculty: Ara B. Gershengorn, Office of the General Counsel, Harvard University; Erin Walczewski ’10, Pro Bono Counsel, Cooley; Alexis Wansac ’19

  • The Craft of Lawyering in a Technology World

    Students in a classroom

    Using a series of case studies, this course will explore the role of lawyers and the craft of lawyering in an increasingly complex technology world. Taught by practicing attorneys, the course will focus on issues of privacy, cybersecurity, intellectual property and other technology-based concerns. By looking at problems that arise in both the civil and criminal context, students will engage in a series of exercises to explore the analytical, writing, presentation and negotiation skills necessary to effectively perform the multiple roles of lawyers in the technology world.

    Faculty: Bill Lee, Partner, WilmerHale; Felicia Ellsworth, Partner, WilmerHale; Sarah Frazier, Counsel, WilmerHale

  • Financial Analysis and Business Valuation

    Lawyers routinely use and critically analyze financial statements and business valuations. Of course, corporate lawyers advise organizations and design deals that depend on these skills, and tax lawyers, commercial litigators, and international trade lawyers also use these skills. But less obviously, family lawyers need them in divorce cases, constitutional lawyers use them in takings cases, and class action lawyers use them in products liability cases. In fact, lawyers of all kinds, including prosecutors, other government lawyers, and public interest lawyers, use these skills to present and resolve disputes, and to propose, critique and defend regulation of businesses.

    This course provides students with an opportunity to engage in hands-on, law-related analysis of financial statements and business valuation and analysis. No prior background in these topics is required. Students first analyze basic financial statements; then move to more advanced financial statement analysis; then review basic methods of business valuation; then build information from financial statements into standard valuation model; then see how practitioners argue for wildly different valuations drawing on the same basic financial information. Students work in teams, and build their knowledge through hands-on experience using case studies of real companies.

    Faculty: John Coates, Vice Dean for Finance and Strategic Initiatives, John F. Cogan, Jr. Professor of Law and Economics, and Research Director, Center on the Legal Profession

  • Introduction to Trial Advocacy

     In the U.S. legal system, a trial is the principle mechanism designed to resolve disputes between adverse parties. Partisan advocates on either side of an issue present evidence to a neutral arbiter – usually a jury, which, in turn acts as a finder of fact. An impartial judge decides matters of law and manages the trial process. Trial Advocacy is both art and science. At bottom, an effective advocate paints a word picture of an historical event for strangers who were not percipient witnesses to the disputed event. Creating a compelling narrative is an art, which through study and practice, can be developed and mastered. The technique and structure of examinations, statements, and argument is in form similar to a science. It is tried and true method, which through study and practice, can be developed and mastered.

    This course is an introduction to effective advocacy. It focuses on predicate areas of advocacy not traditionally covered in trial advocacy courses. ITA begins with a study of case theory. Case theory, as the phrase suggests, represents the narrative an advocate advances to persuade a fact finder to accept the advocate’s narrative. The course then moves to lawyer-client interaction, including the initial interview, and the thorny ethical issues that relationship may, on occasion, entail. Finally, the course teaches two of the most important tools in the trial lawyer’s toolkit, direct and cross examination.

    Faculty: Ronald Sullivan Jr. ’94, Jesse Climenko Clinical Professor of Law and Director, Criminal Justice Institute; Santha Sonenberg, Lecturer on Law;  Thomas Newman, Lecturer on Law; Jay Blitzman, Lecturer on Law

  • Lawyering for Justice in the United States

    Many students come to Harvard Law School to learn to correct injustices they have experienced or observed. Lawyering promises to be a concrete method of social justice problem solving, a set of tools that the lawyer can use to make a positive difference. But what does it really look like to “lawyer for justice”? The strategies and tactics of public interest lawyers vary widely depending on their clients, their causes, their geography, and their own interests, talents, and expertise. How do you choose how to lawyer? What tools in the lawyer’s toolkit are best suited to your task? And what are the limits on the lawyer’s role? How do lawyers situate themselves in the ecosystem of change agents, offering their unique skills (and credentials) while making space to learn and benefit from other voices and methodologies?

    This course helps first-year students explore these foundational questions through interactive sessions led by experienced practitioners teaching and lawyering in the HLS clinical programs and their community partners. Faculty working on different social justice problems – immigration, predatory lending, human rights, criminal justice, education, housing, building a solidarity economy, and more – share their thoughts on what it means to lawyer for justice and lead students through discussions and exercises that offer first-hand experience of a wide range of lawyering dilemmas and approaches. Collectively, the sessions cover a diverse set of lawyering techniques, including impact litigation, legislative and policy advocacy, transactional work, community lawyering, media advocacy, system mapping, and the representation of individuals in proceedings in unjust systems.

    Faculty: Esme Caramello ’99, Faculty Director, Harvard Legal Aid Bureau; Tyler Giannini, Co-Director, International Human Rights Clinic; Michael Gregory ’04, Education Law Clinic, Clinical Professor of Law; Dehlia Umunna, Criminal Justice Institute, Clinical Professor of Law

  • Negotiation Workshop

    Most lawyers, irrespective of their specialty, must negotiate. Litigators resolve far more disputes through negotiation than by trials. Business lawyers — whether putting together a start-up company, arranging venture financing, or preparing an initial public offering — are called upon to negotiate on behalf of their clients. Public interest lawyers, in-house counsel, government attorneys, criminal lawyers, tort lawyers, and commercial litigators all share the need to be effective negotiators.

    This Workshop, by combining theory and practice, aims to improve both the participants understanding of negotiation and their effectiveness as negotiators. Drawing on work from a variety of research perspectives, the readings and lectures provide students with a framework for analyzing negotiations and tools and concepts useful in negotiating more effectively. Participants  spend much of their time in a series of negotiation exercises and simulations, where as negotiators and critical observers, they become more aware of their own behavior as negotiators and learn to analyze what works, what does not work, and why.

    Faculty: Sheila Heen, Lecturer on Law; Alonzo Emery ’10, Lecturer on Law, Associate Director, East Asian Legal Studies Program; Gillien Todd ’99, Lecturer on Law

  • Leadership Fundamentals

    Harvard Law School graduates have a long history of leading change, often drawing on the critical thinking, advocacy, negotiation, and technical legal knowledge and skills they have learned and practiced during law school. For the first time in decades, the legal profession is facing significant disruption across all sectors – private, non-profit, government and academic – due to forces including, but not limited to, globalization, complex market, regulatory and even demographic pressures, and new technologies and processes like artificial intelligence, machine learning, and data analytics/big data. In addition to technical legal skills and knowledge, this rapidly changing landscape will require the next generation of lawyers to develop broader and deeper professional networks and, most importantly, highly advanced leadership and professional skills. This section of the new Pathways to Leadership Workshop will focus on providing students with frameworks, tools, and perspectives that will accelerate and enhance their ability to succeed in leading change for our profession.

    Through a mixture of leadership case studies, interactive exercises and extensive work in teams, students  explore the real-world skills that leaders call upon to catalyze change across our profession. To illustrate how to drive such change, prominent leaders and legal innovators will participate in class to share their perspectives on their efforts to spur the legal profession. Class projects, undertaken in teams, facilitate learning about intentional team-formation, leadership and working style self-knowledge and application, appreciation of diversity on teams and the different forms that intelligence and knowledge-acquisition can take, network development, negotiating conflicts, giving feedback, effective listening, the psychology of motivation and influence, and leadership-oriented communication and presentation skills.

    Faculty:  Scott Westfahl ’88, Director, Executive Education, Professor of Practice; Meredith Boak ’12, Lecturer of Law

  • Pathways to Leadership Workshop for the Public/Non-Profit Sector

    Harvard Law School graduates have a long history of becoming leaders in public service, the public interest world, and the non-profit sector, often drawing on the critical thinking, advocacy, negotiation, and technical legal knowledge and skills they have learned and practiced during law school. The Pathways to Leadership: Workshop for the Public/Non-Profit Sector is a new course designed to provide students with frameworks, tools, and perspectives that will accelerate and enhance their ability to succeed in leadership roles in the future.

    Through a mixture of leadership case studies drawn from the public/nonprofit sector, interactive exercises, visits from guest speakers, and extensive work in teams, students explore the real-world skills that leaders call upon to catalyze change. Exercises and projects, undertaken in teams, facilitate learning about intentional team-formation, leadership and working style self-knowledge, appreciation of diversity on teams and the different forms that intelligence and knowledge-acquisition can take, network development, negotiating conflicts, giving feedback, effective listening, the psychology of motivation and influence, and leadership-oriented communication and presentation skills. Instructors and teaching assistants provide regular feedback to teams with respect to written and oral presentations. As a final exercise, student teams integrate the skills and tools they have gathered during the workshop (as well as through their varied life experiences) and connect theory to application through working together to solve a difficult problem.

    Faculty: Susan Crawford, John A. Reilly Clinical Professor of Law

  • What kind of lawyer do you want to be?: An Introduction to Legal Practice in Different Practice Settings

    What kind of lawyer do you want to be? This course is designed to introduce to some of the practical skills and analytical approaches that lawyers use to help clients to achieve their goals in different practice settings, with an eye toward helping identify practice areas in which to specialize. Each problem that is covered emphasizes a different kind of client with a different kind of problem, requiring a lawyer in a different kind of role, emphasizing a different kind of skill. In addition to highlighting the differences in these roles, the course explores themes and ethical issues that permeate each of these areas of practice, albeit in different ways, and it will highlight some of the professional and personal challenges that students may face throughout their legal career.

    More specifically, during this course, students try on different lawyer hats in the context of pro bono and public interest lawyering and in private practice, sometimes in the civil and sometimes in the criminal context. The skill sets include interviewing clients, interpreting and negotiating contracts, and making charging and sentencing recommendations as prosecutors and criminal defense attorneys. Many of these exercises will involve role playing and simulations.  Lawyers practicing in these fields also participate as guest speakers.

    Faculty: Todd Rakoff ’75, Byrne Professor of Administrative Law; Jamie Wacks ’98, Lecturer on Law