International Legal Studies

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Harvard Law School has a singular commitment to international and comparative law. We stand apart from other U.S. law schools in treating this area as equal to all other first year offerings—we consider an international perspective foundational to legal inquiry.

Our community includes students from more than 85 countries, faculty members whose expertise spans the world, renowned visitors and scholars from abroad, and an extraordinary global alumni network.

Each year, hundreds of HLS students work, study, and conduct research in dozens of countries, supported by research centers and fellowship programs. The International Legal Studies office is dedicated to facilitating these opportunities.


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Coursework + Clinical Offerings

More than 90 courses and reading groups focus on international, foreign, or comparative law. HLS is the only law school in the country in which every first year J.D. student takes an international or comparative law class.

Students can engage in supervised projects spanning the globe through HLS clinical offerings, including investigating prison conditions in Brazil with the International Human Rights Clinic and assessing traditional dispute resolution systems in Bhutan through the Harvard Negotiation and Mediation Clinical Program.

Molly Doggett ’17 worked for a summer at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, examining international standards for the treatment of critically ill detainees.

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2015 Chayes Fellow Aditya Pai '17 in India

During a summer abroad, Aditya Pai ’17 analyzed the effectiveness of the Sehgal Foundation’s legal literacy camps in the Mewat district of India.

International Opportunities

Specialized programs support experiential learning and immersion in foreign legal cultures. In 2017-2018, almost 300 HLS students worked, studied, or conducted research abroad in 49 countries. Frameworks included research/writing projects and independent clinicals during the three-week winter term abroad, a summer engaged in international public interest, fieldwork through the Ghana Project, and a semester taking classes at a foreign law school.

Library + University Resources

The world’s largest academic law library and the vast resources of Harvard University combine to offer unparalleled opportunities for international legal research and study.

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Research Programs + Centers

HLS’ research programs and centers provide opportunities to work directly on notable projects with an international scope, such as the Program on International Law and Armed Conflict’s work to develop a single online resource for international counterterrorism efforts; the Center for the Legal Profession’s Globalization, Lawyers, and Emerging Economies research collaborative in Brazil, China, and India; and the Islamic Legal Studies Program and the Berkman Center for Internet and Society’s collaboration on SHARIAsource, an online portal of resources and analysis on Islamic law.

Mark Jia ’16 spent a winter term assessing pathways for reforming Hong Kong’s campaign finance laws at the Bauhinia Foundation Research Centre. 

Spotlight on:

Spotlight on:

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Read a profile of three of the 2018 Chayes International Public Service Fellows,
and view a photo gallery.

Recent News

Recent News

Courts under political pressure

Harvard Law Today

Dieter Grimm LL.M. ’65, a former justice of the Federal Constitutional Court of Germany, and a noted scholar, academic and public intellectual, spoke at Harvard Law School.

An exchange of ideas

Harvard Law Today

Under a cooperative agreement between our two schools, Professors Glenn Cohen ’03, Holger Spamann S.J.D. ’09 and Lucie White ’81 participated in the eighth annual Intensive Doctoral Week at the Institute d’Etudes Politique de Paris, more commonly known as “Sciences Po.”

For two Chayes Fellows, a 1L summer abroad set careers in motion

Harvard Law Today

As dozens of HLS students plan to pursue public service work abroad this summer, Jonathan Kaufman ’06 and Lillian Langford JD/MPP ’13 recall that seeds planted during their own 1L summers grew, strongly and directly, into the work they are doing today.

Exploring International Legal Studies

Exploring International Legal Studies

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Read about some of the amazing ways students have explored international legal studies at HLS:

  • A winter term filming a documentary on water rights in India.
  • A semester in Beijing studying comparative law.
  • Developing an international business plan through the Harvard Innovation Lab.
  • A summer in Lebanon collecting testimony on the treatment of refugees.
Read all seven stories