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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. The courses emphasize teamwork, skills training, and self-reflection, and are designed to help students bridge the gap between academic courses and practical lawyering, while making connections with fellow first-year classmates.


  • 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

  • Technology and the Public Interest

    Students in a classroom

    As digital technologies transform industries, political systems, and the lives of nearly everyone on the planet, a new job has arisen for lawyers: how can we protect the public interest as innovation swirls in all directions? Societies tend to prioritize creativity, change, and growth in the form of new and exciting digital technologies. This change brings with it great opportunities as well as a new slew of challenges in upholding individual privacy, equality, security, and many other important principles. This course offers a chance for 1Ls during their Winter term to explore this continuously evolving field of law with an emphasis on how lawyers can shape the way that technologies are developed, constrained, and managed to promote justice, equity, and inclusion in the broad public interest.

    Faculty: John Palfrey, Steven and Maureen Klinsky Visiting Professor of Practice for Leadership and Progress

  • Financial Analysis and Business Valuation

    This course will provide students with an opportunity to engage in hands-on, law-related financial analysis and business valuation. Valuing a business requires several foundational skills related to accounting and finance, including an understanding of financial statements, risk and return measurement, forecasting, and discounted cash flow analysis. This course will introduce you to basic terminologies and concepts underlying these skills. No prior background in these topics is required. We will first learn to read basic financial statements; then move to an overview of basic tools of financial statement analysis and finance; then review some common techniques of business valuation; then build information from financial statements into a standard valuation model; then see how practitioners might argue for very different valuations drawing on the same basic financial information. Students will work in teams, and build their knowledge through hands-on experience using case studies of real companies.

    The course is designed to be relevant to law students pursuing a variety of careers. Lawyers many areas of practice can expect to be able to use and critically analyze financial statements and business valuations, including corporate lawyers who may advise organizations and design mergers and acquisition or divestment deals, tax lawyers designing tax strategies, commercial litigators, international trade lawyers, family lawyers, constitutional lawyers, and class action lawyers. 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.

    Faculty: Bala Dharan, Robert B. and Candice J. Haas Visiting Professor in Corporate Finance Law

  • 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; Hon. Jay Blitzman, Lecturer on Law, Santha Sonenberg, Lecturer on Law

  • Lawyering for Justice in the United States

    HLS faculty member lecturing to classMany 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 lawyers toolkit are best suited to your task? And what are the limits on the lawyers 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 will help first-year students explore these foundational questions through sessions led by experienced practitioners. Each day will be devoted to a different social justice problem – immigration, predatory lending, human rights, criminal justice, education, housing, building a solidarity economy, and more – and we will explore what it means to lawyer for justice through discussions and exercises that offer first-hand experience of a wide range of lawyering dilemmas and approaches. Collectively, the sessions will 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. Finally, we will explore what the collective experience of 2020 – with a global pandemic, an intensifying movement for racial justice, and a divisive national election – will mean for social justice lawyering in the United States moving forward.

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

  • 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 will provide students with a framework for analyzing negotiations and tools and concepts useful in negotiating more effectively. Participants will spend much of their time in a series of negotiation exercises and simulations, whereas negotiators and critical observers, they will become more aware of their own behavior as negotiators and learn to analyze what works, what does not work, and why.

    Faculty: Sheila Heen ’93, Lecturer on Law; Deborah Goldstein, Lecturer on Law; Alonzo Emery ’10, Lecturer on Law; Gillien Todd ’99, Lecturer on Law; Lisa Dicker ’17, Lecturer on Law, Clinical Instructor, Harvard Negotiation and Mediation Clinical Program.

  • Leadership Fundamentals

    Harvard Law School graduates have a long history of leadership, drawing on the critical thinking, advocacy, and legal knowledge they learn at law school. This course introduces students to the fundamentals of effective leadership and helps them to explore and practice a variety of leadership approaches and skillsets. The course is highly interactive and team-based, allowing students to learn from each other and build stronger relationships among their peers. We learn about leadership through case studies, discussions and exercises, and also from guest speakers who are leading change in the legal profession, both in the public and the private sector.

    Through a mixture of leadership case studies with guest speakers, interactive exercises, and working in teams, students will explore the real-world skills and mindsets that leaders call upon to catalyze change across the legal profession. Instructors and teaching assistants will provide regular feedback to teams with respect to written and oral presentations. Especially because this is a team-based course, students are expected to attend each class in order to work in their teams and contribute to team assignments. Students will complete light homework assignments each evening, often with their assigned team.

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

  • Pathways to Leadership Workshop for the Public Sector

    Harvard Law School graduates have a long history of becoming leaders in public service, 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 Sector is a new workshop designed to provide students with frameworks, tools, and perspectives that will accelerate and enhance their ability to succeed in public-sector leadership roles in the future.

    Through a mixture of leadership case studies drawn from the public sector, interactive exercises, visits from guest speakers, and extensive work in teams, students will explore the real-world skills that leaders call upon to catalyze change. Exercises and projects, undertaken in teams, will 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. As a final exercise, student teams will 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