Students will participate in an externship with Project Democracy, a nonpartisan nonprofit founded by former White House and Department of Justice attorneys and dedicated to preventing our democracy from declining into a more authoritarian form of government. Protect Democracy accomplishes its mission by working to combat the tactics that authoritarian leaders use to undermine our free, fair, and fully-informed pursuit of self-government, and by pursuing pro-democracy reforms to renew and improve our democratic norms and institutions. Most clinical work will be done remotely, although there may be opportunities for travel to Washington, D.C.
Students in the Democracy and the Rule of Law Clinic will work with Protect Democracy to safeguard the key features of a democratic society through a variety of tools that advance our mission, including impact litigation; policy advocacy to members of Congress, and other local, state, and federal officials; strategic partnerships with other groups and individuals who align with our mission; communications through media outlets, reports, social media posts, and our website; and Freedom of Information Act requests. The Clinic will focus on issues such as ensuring the impartial application of the rule of law; safeguarding healthy civic institutions that allow for public participation in political debate; prohibiting official corruption; and challenging government if it targets certain people or groups in our society.
Specific topics and projects will be determined by enrolled students in conjunction with the clinic leaders and other attorneys at The Protect Democracy Project. Students will be integrated into existing Protect Democracy project teams and take on legal research and writing, legal drafting, policy advocacy and analysis, and other assignments to advance projects’ advocacy goals. Some examples of such projects include:
- Developing litigation memoranda setting forth proposed legal theories and possible causes of action, and assessing approaches to overcome justiciability barriers.
- Identifying potential plaintiffs for litigation and selecting optimal jurisdictions. Drafting complaints, preliminary injunction motions, dispositive motions and other briefs, including appellate and amicus briefs.
- Drafting white papers, op-eds, blog posts, scholarship, and letters or memoranda to federal, state, and local government officials.
- Developing proposals and assessing opportunities for legislative reform, and helping advocate for desired reforms.
- Participating in moot courts and assisting counsel with preparation for oral arguments.
- Developing and submitting FOIA requests, including identifying recipients and shaping requests in a manner likely to lead to useful information.
- Drafting letters to agency Inspectors General, the Office of Special Counsel, or state Attorneys General alerting them to potential areas for investigation.
Students will have the opportunity to develop substantive knowledge; build litigation, oversight, oral advocacy, and other practical skills; and gain opportunities for professional development. They will work closely with experienced former government attorneys and policy advocates.
Enrollment is limited to 10 students per semester. Although there will be a separate enrollment process for the Spring semester, students who participate in the clinic in the Fall semester will have the option to continue in the Spring, and thus there may be a limited number of slots for new students in the Spring.
You can read evaluations from past clinical students in the Helios Org Search using this link.
How to Register
How to Register
This clinic is offered in the Fall and Spring semester. You can learn about the required clinical course component, clinical credits and the clinical registration process by reading the course catalog description and exploring the links in this section.
Office of Clinical and Pro Bono Programs
Harvard Law School
6 Everett Street, WCC
Cambridge, MA 02138