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Clinical and Pro Bono Programs

The HLS Office of Clinical and Pro Bono Programs offer numerous clinical opportunities to gain legal experience under the supervision of seasoned attorneys while earning credit. Many public service and government employers look for clinical experience on your resume as it represents both a commitment to public service and the development of actual practice skills. Clinical placements offer you the opportunity to try out additional practice settings and explore new areas of the law which you may not have been able to do otherwise.

Harvard Law School has one of the most diverse clinical legal education programs in the country. Over 50 clinical courses are offered each year. The practice component of clinical courses involves the placement of students in dozens of settings: legal services offices, criminal defense organizations, state and federal agencies, district attorney offices, public interest organizations and some private law firms. Placements are available in substantive areas such as administrative law, children’s rights, community economic development, criminal defense and prosecution, employment rights, environmental law, gender violence, government benefits, human rights, immigration and asylum law, and juvenile justice. Students may also develop a clinical work project at a placement site of their choice through the Independent Clinical Work Program.

The HLS Office of Clinical and Pro Bono Programs counsels students on course and placement selections; develops, monitors and evaluates clinical placements; and oversees and coordinates the curriculum-based clinics, externship placements and student practice organizations. Clinical instructors and staff of the various clinical programs are also available to counsel and advise students.

Student Practice Organizations

1L students can begin representing clients through a Student Practice Organization (SPO), where students’ volunteer hours count towards the pro bono requirement. 2L, 3L, and LLM students are also welcome to participate in SPO practice. Most of the SPOs focus on public service; examples include HLS Advocates for Human Rights, Harvard Defenders, the Tenant Advocacy Project, and Project No One Leaves.


Several of Harvard Law School’s journals focus on public interest issues and provide students the opportunity to gain more experience with these topics. A complete list of HLS journals can be found on the Journals and Publications website.