HLS’s Clinical and Pro Bono Programs offer an expansive array of legal practice opportunities. Working under the supervision of experienced attorneys, students take direct responsibility for clients and cases in an actual practice setting. Students may participate in in-house clinics, externships, Student Practice Organizations (SPOs), and may also design their own independent clinical projects.
The Office of Clinical and Pro Bono Programs (OCP) advises students on this wide-range of opportunities to practice law. OCP manages the clinical curriculum, clinical registration and student clinical placements; supports Student Practice Organizations; manages HLS’s pro bono requirement; connects students to credit-bearing and volunteer legal opportunities during the school year; provides counseling and support to students; and supports clinical professors and staff.
Legal Practice Opportunities
The early months and years in the practice of law are critical to establishing a basis for the development of sound skills and judgment and to inculcating rigorous standards of professional ethics and practice. OCP believes that students learn best under the guidance of experienced practicing attorneys whose job it is to teach and mentor students.
As a 1L you may:
- Join a Student Practice Organization. SPOs are student-run with supervising attorneys on HLS staff to assist and guide students. Make sure to attend the SPO Panel and the student activities fair in September to learn more about each SPO. You may also download the SPO Skills Matrix for an overview of student work by SPO.
- Work on an individual basis for HLS pro bono credit under the direct supervision of a licensed attorney at a law firm or legal organization or an HLS faculty member who is licensed to practice.
- Participate in an HLS spring break pro bono trip.
As a 2L and 3L you may:
- Continue these activities, and
- Enroll in a clinic. There are 18 In-House Clinics and 13 Externship Clinics. Along with a clinic, students take a companion course in which their clinical experiences supplement and contribute to further discussion and insight. Download the Clinical Skills Matrix for an overview of student work by clinic. Clinical registration takes place each year in the Spring semester.
- Hold leadership positions in the Student Practice Organizations.
Pro Bono Requirement
Harvard Law School requires all J.D. students to perform at least 50 hours of legal pro bono work as a graduation requirement. Pro bono clinics and Student Practice Organizations are two ways to meet this requirement.
OCP’s team of lawyers and educators is excited to meet with you and discuss your ideas for practicing law! Just set up an advising appointment using the online system.
- Academic policy questions
- Clinic and course selection for In-House Clinics, Externship Clinics, and independent clinical projects
- Clinical registration through Helios, by-application clinics, and continuing clinical applications
- Student Practice Organizations
- Ethics, conflicts, confidentiality matters
- Pro bono requirement and projects
- Spring break pro bono trips
- Law firm pro bono
- General academic and practice experience advising
Helios – Helios is the Law School’s student information system. For most clinics, registration is through Helios. Students may also search Helios for evaluation of clinics and pro bono placements. Please log into your Helios account and update Your Interests page so that the Office of Public Interest Advising and the Office of Clinical and Pro Bono Programs know how to target programming and opportunities. You can receive automatic emails of jobs that match your interests. This option can be edited at any time.
OCP Blog – Students can read about their peer’s experiences in the clinics and students practice organizations as well as stay up to date with news from the programs.
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