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Latest FAQ updates as of 8/27/20

Latest FAQ updates as of 8/27/20

Classroom Protocols & Information

Do I have to have my video on during Zoom classes?

Students are expected to participate in all classes with video turned on. If you are facing exceptional circumstances on a particular occasion that require turning video off, you should, if possible, notify your teacher in advance and receive approval. In the event a WiFi connection is unstable and participation in class requires turning off the video, you should alert the faculty member and the faculty member’s assistant via email following the class session, in addition to utilizing any other notification system the faculty member might have in place, such as Zoom chat.

In all cases, when a video is turned off, your preferred full name should be displayed.

Can I use virtual backgrounds?

Your faculty may ask you to select a background from a pre-selected set of HLS-approved “green screen” backgrounds or, to the extent possible, arrange your computer equipment so that your background is as neutral as possible, preferably a blank wall. Please be mindful of what appears on camera behind you to limit distraction. Please be sure to check your course syllabi for any course-specific guidelines.

Can I record a class, take screen shots or share course access and materials?

Students may not share classroom Zoom links with anyone outside the course. In addition, students may not record, stream, reproduce, publish, or further distribute outside the course any course content, including assessments, problems, answers, video clips, screenshots, and slides presented during class through Zoom or any other functionality.

Students may not stream or video- or audio-record classes or any portion thereof, or take screenshots of course content or their classmates or teachers, regardless of whether the formal class session has been called to order or concluded.

Are there any new technology policies that apply to remote learning?

The Law School’s longstanding policy has been that faculty may individually determine whether electronic devices can be used in the physical classroom. While participation in class in an online environment will require the use of a computer, tablet, or phone, certain school-wide rules still apply to the use of this equipment (such as those concerning recording and image-capture). Individual faculty may set rules restricting the use of electronic equipment to avoid interfering with classroom pedagogy (such as a rule requiring students to turn off cell phones during class unless you are using your phone to access class, or a rule requiring students not to communicate with one another in real-time during class other than through the Canvas site, Zoom room, or any other faculty-approved channels).

Faculty may also choose to disable or limit certain features that can function in a manner that is distracting or discourages robust debate. When applicable, faculty will provide additional information on functionality that will not be available and/or should not be used during class.

Where do I get text books?

Many vendors offer digital and print copies of casebooks, including the Harvard COOP, Amazon and direct from casebook publishers. Sometimes buying direct from a publisher is a more affordable option. An internet search for your book title will help you find new and used books available for sale from a variety of places. Some of the law book publisher websites are: Aspen Publishers, West Academic and LexisNexis.

How do I get course materials?

Course materials in course packs will be made available to you through course Canvas sites. Print copy packs will not be produced or distributed.

What do I need to know to participate effectively in class via Zoom?

The Learning Experience & Technology team has prepared some helpful guidance, From Lecture Halls to Laptops: Guidance for Student Participation in Zoom Classrooms, to support you as you (1) configure your Zoom account for class participation, (2) engage in class discussions, and (3) get comfortable in a Zoom class environment. Please use this guidance as a jumping off point, understanding that faculty members and other leaders of Zoom spaces may have more specific, detailed instructions for engagement in a particular setting.

Can I have in-person meetings with faculty members this fall?

In-person meetings on or off campus between or among faculty and students for advising, class-related discussions, research assistance or teaching fellow work, or for any other reason, are not permitted, unless in a pre-approved clinical capacity. In addition to raising equity and public health concerns, in-person student-faculty interactions may subject those involved to additional medical testing and reporting requirements.

Library Services

Will I have physical access to Langdell Library?

We expect the HLS Library to remain physically closed to patrons for the fall; however, the library staff are available to support you remotely. For updates and helpful information on using the library remotely, please visit the HLS Library research and remote services guide.

Are there digital materials I can access remotely?

The Law Library has had many conversations with publishers this spring and summer to identify and purchase as many digital items as possible to support student learning in the classroom as well as faculty and student research, with a higher rate of success in finding digital access for materials after 2010. In addition to purchasing digital items, the Harvard Library’s scan and deliver service is available to digitize articles and limited portions of books (in accordance with copyright limitations) when no electronic version is available. To find materials in our collection, please search HOLLIS (the library catalog). To request access to an article or a portion of a book not available electronically, please contact Harvard Library’s Scan & Deliver service.

Will print copies of course reserve materials be available?

Sometimes faculty place course-related readings on hold in the library. Due to complications arising from the need to quarantine print materials after they are returned, and because of the inequity of allowing students in the Cambridge area to access materials that most others cannot, print copies of course reserve materials will not be circulated to students this fall. Wherever possible, the library is acquiring digital copies of course reserve material and working with faculty to find alternative solutions to print course reserves. Course reserve lists, if used by faculty, can be found on your course site in Canvas.

Can I borrow physical books from the Harvard Library?

If you are living locally, you may log into HOLLIS (the library catalog) with your HUID and request items for pick up at several locations on the Harvard campus. More information on pick-up locations can be found at Harvard Library’s library materials guide. This information will continue to be updated as the circumstances evolve. Please note that neither the Harvard Library nor the Law Library are able to ship books to you. If you are located outside of the Cambridge area and need access to material, please contact our reference librarians (research@law.harvard.edu), who will try to find an e-version or alternative for you.

Can I access materials from Historical & Special Collections (HSC)?

Access to our archival and special collections material is closed for the fall semester; however, our staff is available to assist with research questions remotely. To explore our digital collections visit: https://hls.harvard.edu/library/digital-collections/. Please contact HSC for assistance at specialc@law.harvard.edu.

How do I get research support?

Our librarians are available to meet with you to assist you with developing a research strategy, locating materials and other general reference services. You can reach our librarians to set up an appointment or visit them virtually Monday–Friday between 10 am and 6 pm. To schedule a meeting, or find out more about how our librarians can help you with your research, please visit our Ask a Librarian page.

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Previous FAQs

Academics and Learning Experience

Academics and Learning Experience

How can I learn more about using my Zoom account?

What is HLS doing to ensure its online courses and clinics will provide a high-quality learning experience?

The Harvard Law School faculty has been hard at work exploring how to adapt their teaching to offer the best online courses and clinics possible. We have sought to develop an excellent online educational experience, leveraging the latest research on how students best learn online and identifying the range of tools, techniques, and approaches that create effective, engaging, high-quality online courses. In our clinics, we continue to adapt to the exigencies of online clinical pedagogy and representation; to design creative and effective new ways of engaging with client communities, partner organizations, and tribunals; and to craft teaching and advocacy strategies that meet the challenges of this unique moment. We have also extensively surveyed our faculty and our students to gain insights from last spring’s experience with an eye toward tailoring best practices in online learning to the distinctive pedagogy of law school.

What is HLS doing to plan for a robust student life experience?

We are committed to providing the highest-quality education and an enriching extracurricular student experience. As we’ve prepared for the Fall Term, we have been working to develop meaningful opportunities for students to connect outside the classroom and to support the extracurriculars that are an integral part of the HLS experience. These include mentoring and advising programs, service opportunities, academic and social events, participation in student organizations and student journals, and a wide range of other extracurricular activities.

For incoming students, we’ve planned comprehensive orientation programs, with a particular focus on small group meetings so that students can get to know their classmates and our staff and faculty better before the term begins. Incoming J.D.s will have the opportunity to meet their section leaders and classmates not only during orientation, but in small groups beforehand. LL.Ms will be able to connect with classmates, Graduate Program leadership, and faculty members prior to the start of the term.

What time of day will classes be held? What if I am in a different time zone?

All fall 1L classes will be scheduled between 8:00 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. Eastern Time. Students living in locations with significant time zone differences will be placed in sections that best align with those schedules. Once assigned to a section, students will be expected to participate in classes at the times they are offered.

Upper-level courses will continue to take place primarily between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. Eastern Time. Students will be expected to participate in classes at the times they are offered. We are working to develop additional offerings to better accommodate students living in locations with significant time zone differences.

What is the Law School doing to help students living in time zones around the world that make it more difficult to be in class during the day Eastern Time?

We have added a dozen new courses to our academic program that are scheduled for hours that will be more convenient for students living multiple time zones away from Cambridge, including several in the early morning blocks between 8:00-10:00 am and several in evening blocks between 7:00-10:00 pm. These new courses are now included in the Law School’s Course Catalog. Students who feel they cannot participate fully in classes offered remotely during the Fall Term can defer their matriculation or take a leave for any reason through June 22.

Now that Law School courses and clinics will be online, will you increase enrollment caps in courses with waitlists?

Course and clinic enrollment caps are set based not only on physical seat capacity but also, and more importantly, on the pedagogical goals of the course or clinic. As we think about how best to structure our courses and clinics for excellent online teaching and learning, we will consider whether we can increase any caps without compromising course or clinic objectives, including the scale best suited for robust classroom discussion and for allowing sufficient opportunities for each student to meet with their teachers and clinical supervisors.

What will the attendance policy be for the Fall Term 2020?

The Law School’s regular attendance policy, as set forth in the Handbook of Academic Policies applies for the Fall Term 2020.

 Will HLS be recording Fall Term 2020 classes?

We will not be recording Fall Term 2020 classes except in circumstances described in the Law School’s Handbook of Academic Policies. Law school pedagogy relies heavily on interactive classrooms in which learning occurs through an active dialogue between faculty and students. Our Fall Term 2020 courses will be high-quality online courses, and full engagement with your legal education will require active participation in class sessions. Students will be expected to participate with video turned on during classes.

As previously noted, we have created a Technology Assistance Fund to help abate obstacles students might otherwise face engaging in online learning. We have also re-opened the window to elect to defer or take a leave of absence through June 22 to allow students who feel they cannot participate fully in classes offered remotely during the Fall Term to defer their matriculation or take a leave for any reason.

 

Grading

Grading

What will the Fall 2020 Term grading policy be?

Grading for the Fall 2020 Term will be in accordance with the Law School’s standard grading policies.

Why has the School decided not to implement a temporary credit/fail grading system for the Fall 2020 Term?

In the spring of 2020, we temporarily suspended our standard grading system because of the extraordinary circumstance of students having to leave campus on very short notice, and to transition mid-semester to online teaching and learning. Under those circumstances, neither students nor faculty could know what to expect, creating a great deal of uncertainty around teaching and learning the last five weeks of the semester.

With the benefit of last spring’s experience and with months instead of days to prepare, our faculty and staff have been hard at work identifying and applying best practices for creating excellent online courses. In addition, we have been able to put in place for the fall a number of affirmative measures to help address the barriers to online learning that some may have faced in the spring. These steps include supplementing existing grant aid with a new Technology Assistance Fund that will provide up to $1 million to help students address technological obstacles to participating fully in online learning; giving priority in the allocation of limited HLS dormitory housing to those facing technological or other circumstances that make it difficult to engage in online learning in their current environments; and working to identify, if possible, ways to increase the courses available in time slots that are more accessible to students in remote time zones.

In addition, in what we expect to be a difficult hiring market, the lack of grades is likely to be disadvantageous to our students.

We realize, however, that for a variety of reasons, an online learning experience may not be optimal for everyone. With that in mind, we have created an additional deferral period for our newly admitted J.D. and LL.M. students that will run June 15 through June 19. We have also extended from June 15 to June 19 the deadline for returning students to opt for a fall-semester or full-year leave during Academic Year 2020-2021, should they wish to do so.

Clinics, Externships, Independent Clinical Work, and SPOs

Clinics, Externships, Independent Clinical Work, and SPOs

Will I be able to participate in my in-house or externship clinic during the Fall Term 2020?

The Office of Clinical and Pro Bono Programs (OCP) is working with our in-house clinics and externship supervisors to determine how the student experience in those programs can be most successful in an online learning environment. Based on the transition to remote clinical work this past spring semester and our ongoing assessment of clinical opportunities, we expect that work in most in-house and externship clinics will be able to continue as planned in a remote environment.

How will clinic work change in a remote environment?

  • In-house clinics and SPOs

All in-house clinics and SPOs will operate remotely during the Fall semester.  The classroom component of the clinics will be taught online.

The type and amount of remote clinical work may vary from clinic to clinic. The in-house clinics are currently identifying meaningful remote clinical work for students.  Some clinics (for example, the policy-oriented clinics) will continue to do their work entirely remotely for the Fall semester 2020.

Courts, administrative agencies, and other legal settings continue to operate on a mostly or exclusively remote basis at this time, but some are developing protocols for partial or staged re-opening. In some cases, they will open their doors to attorneys and clients, and some HLS direct services clinics with clients will need to appear in court, interview clients in person, access court documents in person, etc. Individual clinics are working on how these clinical opportunities that cannot take place remotely will happen in person, in accordance with public health guidelines.  For clinics and SPOs that have some limited amount of in-person activities for students to participate in person at courts, agencies, and similar off-campus settings that have been opened, those clinics and SPOs will ensure that they are following the health protocols shared by the University and local and state public health authorities, including use of face coverings when around other people, avoiding settings with large groups of people, social distancing, and, wherever possible, conducting meetings by phone, video, or online instead of in-person in order to ensure the safety of our students and clinicians. In addition, students should not physically attend clinic and SPO meetings off-campus or in other settings if they have symptoms of COVID-19 or recent exposure to known cases of COVID-19.

The HLS campus will remain closed with extremely limited access for essential personnel only.

To the extent an in-house clinic or SPO offers any in-person student opportunities at a courthouse, agency, or similar off-campus setting, that in-person student activity must be voluntary.  Thus, if, for whatever reason, a student might have chosen to live in the Boston area in the fall and that student is in an in-house clinic or SPO, that does not obligate that student to participate in any in-person case activity that might become available.  Every in-house clinic and SPOs will and must have robust legal work for students to undertake remotely no matter their geographic location.

 

  • Externship Clinics

The externship clinics will also operate during the Fall semester.

The classroom component of the externship clinics will be online.

OCP is working with the various agencies that host our externship students to ensure that the remote work is meaningful work. Remote work is preferred.

If remote work is not feasible (due to confidentiality concerns and technology limitations) and if a student is living locally (near the placements), the student may go to the externship placement, provided the placements are managing their workforce in alignment with state public health guidelines and where applicable Harvard University guidelines. including use of face coverings when around other people, avoiding settings with large groups of people, social distancing, and, wherever possible, conducting meetings by phone, video, or online instead of in-person in order to ensure the safety of our students and their supervisors.  In addition, students should not physically attend clinic meetings off-campus or in other settings if they have symptoms of COVID-19 or recent exposure to known cases of COVID-19.

OCP is working with the externship sites on developing guidance for limited student participation in off-campus externships, in accordance with state public health guidelines.

Students in externship clinics are generally placed at organizations in the Greater Boston area – because of the remote format, is it possible for students in externship clinics to secure a placement outside of Greater Boston?

Typically, HLS requires students to be in residence/on-campus and only allows students to travel to other cities for winter term clinical credit. Given the current circumstances, HLS may allow students to work in-person or remotely at organizations and agencies in other cities, states, countries, provided the placement is approved by OCP and you are enrolled in the accompanying externship course. On site work may be possible provided the placement has confirmed that they are in compliance with their jurisdictions public health guidelines.

Can I do an independent clinical in my hometown or the locality where I happen to be living in the fall?

Yes. Working for an organization in your local area –provided the placement is approved by OCP – can count for independent clinical credit during the Fall semester 2020. Applications for the fall term are due to OCP by August 28, 2020. Explore more information about the independent clinical program.

May I increase the number of clinical credits I get for my externship?

Yes.  Each clinical credit requires 4 hours per week (for 12 weeks) of work. As long as your placement supervisor has the necessary amount of work to meet these credit requirements, and you fall within the 16 credit cap (during your J.D.) for all clinical work, writing and cross-registration credits, you may increase your credits to match the number of hours per week you are working in your placement up to twenty hours per week (5 clinical credits).

Technology Grant Program

Technology Grant Program

Where do I apply for a Technology Grant?

The application is available online, and will close on October 1.

What is the application deadline?

The final deadline is October 1.

  • Application submitted by August 13 – funds available no later than August 23
  • Application submitted by September 1 – funds available September 15
  • Application submitted by October 1 – funds available October 15

What does the Technology Grant program cover?

Students may receive $250 for wireless and broadband expenses, as well as assistance of up to $300 for the purchase of the following hardware and accessories:

  • Headset
  • Monitor
  • Web Camera
  • Wireless Keyboard and Mouse
  • Printer/Toner/Paper

Who is eligible?

A student’s eligibility for Technology Grants is need-based, including J.D. students with combined financial aid (meaning a federal, Harvard, or private student loan and/or need-based HLS grant assistance) of at least $48,725, and LL.M. and S.J.D. students with HLS grant aid. Students with questions about their eligibility should contact their financial aid office – either J.D. Student Financial Services at sfs@law.harvard.edu or Graduate Program (LL.M. and S.J.D.) Financial Aid gpfinaid@law.harvard.edu).

What are the documentation requirements?

To obtain funding, students may either:

(1) submit receipts for the equipment they have purchased; or

(2) submit a request for an advance based on their estimated expenses. Students who submit estimates will be required to follow up with the actual receipts for their purchases by October 1. Those students who submit estimates will have their grant adjusted once the receipts are reviewed. If receipts are not submitted by October 1, any grant previously disbursed will be reversed, which may result in the student owing a balance on their student account.

Should I submit receipts as I get them or wait to submit all at once?

Receipts should be submitted with the application for the grant unless the student is submitting estimated expenses.

What happens if my estimates do not match my receipts?

Students who submit estimates and receive an advance will have their grant adjusted once the receipts are reviewed. If the adjustment results in a student owing a balance, the payment should be made on the next student account notice the student receives.

Can I submit receipts from someone else?

No. Receipts must be itemized and show proof of payment in the submitting student’s name.

Can I be reimbursed for purchases made before June 3?

No. Only purchases made after June 3, 2020 will be reimbursed.

Can I request more than $300 of hardware funding if I do not receive $250 of internet access (or more than $250 for internet access if I don’t request $300 of hardware assistance)?

Technological Grant categories are fixed. A student cannot spend less on one category in exchange for a higher maximum grant in another category. However, any student with significant extenuating circumstances that cause them to need more technological funding should contact their financial aid office – either J.D. Student Financial Services at sfs@law.harvard.edu or Graduate Program (LL.M. and S.J.D.) Financial Aid at gpfinaid@law.harvard.edu.

How and when will I be reimbursed?

Funds will be advanced by the student’s Student Financial Aid Office through their student account in August, September or October, depending on the date of the funding request, based on the following schedule:

  • Application submitted by August 13 – funds available August 23
  • Application submitted by September 1 – funds available September 15
  • Application submitted by October 1 – funds available October 15

If the student’s permanent address is in the U.S., direct deposit is required for the disbursement of the Technological Grant.

If the student’s permanent address is outside of the U.S., we highly recommend that that the student sign up for direct deposit if they have a U.S. bank account; however, if a student does not have a U.S. bank account, their funds will be sent via Western Union.

I’m an international student without a U.S. bank account. How will my funds be disbursed?

The University Student Accounts Office will be able to make payments to students without U.S. bank accounts via Western Union. These payments will be subject to conversion fees.

Has HLS partnered with any suppliers to provide the necessary technology items at a discount?

Yes. HLS is partnering with a supplier, CDW, to help make the equipment purchasing easier for those who would like to take advantage of this option. For more information, visit the CDW website. (Students will need to create an account on the CDW website to access product and discount information.)

What types of technology items do you recommend and how much do they cost?

Two sample technology packages offered by CDW are listed below.

Package 1: $256

  • 8” HP FHD Monitor: $120
  • Logitech HD Pro Webcam: $67
  • Logitech USB Headset H390: $40
  • Logitech Wireless Keyboard/Mouse: $29

Package 2: $256

  • HP B&W Printer: $120
  • Logitech HD Pro Webcam: $67
  • Logitech USB Headset H390: $40
  • Logitech Wireless Keyboard/Mouse: $29

Must I purchase technology items from CDW, the vendor with which HLS is partnering?

No. Eligible students may purchase the equipment from any vendor.

EIP - January 2021

EIP - January 2021

If I am participating in EIP in January 2021, do I need to also register for a Winter Term academic offering?

HLS students are required to enroll in an academic offering for the Winter Term 2021.  Because standard HLS attendance policies apply and preclude missing class or clinical work in order to participate in EIP, it is recommended that students who are planning to participate in EIP enroll in independent writing credits for the term to allow the flexibility to interview on campus and to travel as necessary for interviews.

 

Tuition

Tuition

What is this year’s tuition expected to be?

For Academic Year 2020-2021, HLS has decided to roll back its previously announced tuition rate to the 2019-2020 level. Therefore, tuition will be $65,875 for 2020-2021. HLS has also increased financial aid, which will continue to be a top priority as we work to support those in need.

Will HLS be offering an additional tuition discount?

The decision whether to cut tuition is a University-level decision. While HLS was permitted to cancel its previously announced tuition increase, it lacked discretion to offer further tuition discounts.

HLS is committed to providing the highest-quality online programming and preparations are already underway to ensure that our students receive an exceptional education. As previously noted, with the benefit of last spring’s experience and with months instead of days to prepare, our faculty and staff have been hard at work identifying and applying best practices for creating excellent online courses and clinical opportunities. In addition to a wide range of student services, including mentoring, advising and other support programs, we are also working to create a robust series of events, extracurricular activities, and an enriching social and intellectual experience for our students.

As also noted, we have also been able to put in place for the fall a number of affirmative measures to help address the barriers some may face to online learning. These steps include:

  • Supplementing existing grant aid with a new Technology Assistance Fund that will provide up to $1 million to help our students address technological obstacles to participating fully in online learning;
  • Giving priority in the allocation of limited HLS dormitory housing to those facing technological or other circumstances that make it difficult to engage in online learning in their current environments; and
  • Working to identify, if possible, ways to increase the courses available in time slots that are more accessible to students in remote time zones.

This, of course, is supplementary to the robust financial aid we continue to provide. We realize, however, that for a variety of reasons, an online learning experience may not be optimal for everyone. With that in mind, we have created an additional deferral period for our newly admitted JD and LL.M students that will run June 15 through June 19. We have also extended from June 15 to June 19 the deadline for returning students to opt for a fall-semester or full-year leave during Academic Year 2020-2021, should they wish to do so.

What percentage of HLS spending is paid for with student tuition, and what exactly does it pay for?

Tuition from JD and LLM/SJD students accounts for 42% of HLS revenues. Other critical sources of revenue include annual payouts by the University from the endowment, tuition from executive education programs, rent from HLS housing, and philanthropy. Because student tuition funds significantly less than half of HLS operating costs, it is impossible to associate tuition dollars with specific budget items. In general, tuition, along with these other revenue streams, is used for staff and faculty salaries, financial aid, clinical programs, student services, library costs, and the costs of operating and maintaining the physical plant. You can find additional information in the message from Dean for Administration Matt Gruber.

What impact has the pandemic had on HLS finances?

Both for the current fiscal and academic year, which ends June 30, and for the next, beginning July 1, HLS has already sustained, or is projecting, steep declines in all sources of revenue, with little drop in expenditures. For the current year alone (Fiscal Year 2020), revenues declined as the School was forced to cancel executive education programs scheduled for this summer and refund rent to students asked vacate HLS housing. Philanthropy is also falling short of projections, which often occurs when the economy suddenly contracts. At the same time, the School absorbed unpredicted costs in the form of emergency financial assistance for students and in moving the educational programs online.

What is HLS doing to reduce spending this and next fiscal year?

The revenue shortfalls and new costs HLS sustained during the current fiscal year and has projected for the coming fiscal year have been ameliorated by several actions the School has taken to bring the budget closer to balance, such as cancelling or postponing discretionary spending and previously planned projects, and imposing a freeze on the hiring of new staff.

Despite these efforts, the School’s financial picture will only become worse in FY 2021. Tuition revenues will fall as a result, in part, of the decision to forgo the planned rate increase. Other projected revenue shortfalls include, among other things, substantial reductions in the University’s payout on the endowment and in dormitory revenue, as public health concerns will require that more than three-quarters of rooms remain unoccupied. HLS offset some of these revenue shortfalls by continuing to reduce operating expenses and travel, and by taking other actions such as eliminating salary increases for faculty and exempt staff. Among major categories of spending, only financial aid and LIPP are expected to increase next year.

Housing

Housing

Will HLS dorms be available for rent beginning in the Fall 2020 semester?

A very limited number of North Hall dorm rooms that enable the appropriate social distancing are available by petition, with priority given to those for whom technological or other circumstances create significant obstacles to learning online from their present home environment. Please keep in mind that all common spaces, including as kitchens, will be closed. Cooking appliances are also prohibited from the building this fall. If you are interested in submitting a petition, please contact Housing@law.harvard.edu.

I am an entering student. Should I plan to move to the Cambridge area this fall? What are the various considerations?

Some entering students may consider moving to the Cambridge area, even though all academic programming will occur online and most of the campus will be closed for the duration of the fall semester. For those who prefer to do so, moving to the Cambridge area provides the advantage of securing housing for the full year. Other students may feel that living outside the Cambridge area or even outside Massachusetts makes the best sense for their learning style, family, and budget. A student living outside the Cambridge area should research Internet access with care and consider how they can best meet the requirement that all students participate in classes at the times they are offered.

I am an international student. Is it better for me to live in the Cambridge area or back in my home country?

The format of Harvard Law School’s Fall 2020 Term will have significant implications for students who are not citizens or permanent residents of the United States. The Harvard International Office (HIO) has prepared detailed guidance for international students, which was sent by HIO to all incoming and returning HLS students. Please refer to this guidance and contact HIO advisor Peter O’Meara (peter_omeara@harvard.edu) if you have any additional questions.

I am a rising 2L or 3L at HLS. Should I plan to move back to the Cambridge area? Should I extend my lease?

The decision to move back to Cambridge or to extend your lease should be made with the expectation that most of the campus will be closed for the duration of the fall semester. Questions you may want to consider include: Is your current housing situation optimal for another semester’s worth of virtual study and participation in classes at the times they are offered? Does your current housing situation provide you access to reliable, high-speed internet? Will you be able to prepare for and virtually attend your classes without interruption where you are? Will you be able to get time alone to reflect, relax, and recharge? If your alternative is to remain in your current residence, what will studying for class be like while meeting the expectations that might come with being in your current living situation for an extended period of time?

If I do not secure housing in the Cambridge area for the fall, what are my options if I move to the Cambridge area in January?

Leases in the Cambridge-area rental market typically run September to September. However, there are likely to be concessions in the private market if landlords find it difficult to rent in September as a number of higher education institutions move their operations online.

Harvard University Housing (HUH) has already committed to flexibility in lease start dates for applicants whose schools are online in the fall semester. Students interested in applying for housing now for the spring semester can participate in the HUH lottery in July and choose a January 1st start date. If you are interested in applying for HUH housing for either the fall or spring semester and you haven’t yet applied, please visit the Harvard University Housing website and submit your application by June 26th to be randomly assigned a lottery number. As always, there is no cost to apply for HUH housing and no obligation to commit until you have selected a unit and signed a lease.

We do not yet know whether HLS will be in a position to open additional dorms beyond North Hall in January 2021. We are planning to return to campus as quickly as the public health situation will permit us to do so safely and effectively. However, given the uncertainty of the pandemic, we are not yet in a position to determine what programming will occur on campus in the spring.

I plan to live outside of the Cambridge area this fall. How will this impact my financial aid award? Will my housing allowance change if I am living in a place with different housing costs?

The cost of attendance for the 2020-21 academic year will be the same regardless of where you live. We know students may be located around the country and the world; however, the room/board/personal expense portion of the cost of attendance calculation will continue to be based on what we have determined to be a moderate standard of living for the Cambridge area. Those students who choose to not move to Cambridge for the fall may be able to reduce their borrowing if they are able to live in a lower cost of living area.

What HLS housing will be available for the winter and/or spring terms?  Will dorms other than North Hall be available and, if so, how will the application process work?

Unfortunately, due to the many uncertainties caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, we do not know at this time what HLS dormitories, in addition to North Hall, will be available for the winter or spring terms. Although significant improvements in the public health situation may permit the reopening of other HLS dorms for future terms, it is important in the meantime to remember that most HLS housing is not conducive to the social distancing currently necessary to limit the spread of the coronavirus.

Can HLS students take advantage of other Harvard housing?

Yes. HLS students can also apply for housing through Harvard University Housing (HUH), which offers a range of housing options. HUH has already committed to unprecedented flexibility in lease start dates for applicants whose schools are online in the fall semester. If you are interested in applying for HUH housing for either the fall or spring semester and you haven’t yet applied, please visit the Harvard University Housing website and submit your application by June 26th to be randomly assigned a lottery number. As always, there is no cost to apply for HUH housing and no obligation to commit until you have selected a unit and signed a lease. Students who apply after June 26th will be placed in the final lottery award window.

Remote Learning Decisions

Remote Learning Decisions

Why has Harvard Law School decided to hold its Fall 2020 Term remotely?

Our first priority is, and must continue to be, the health and safety of our community. In light of the daily news about the continuing health risks of the COVID-19 pandemic, advice from public health experts, and the very real concern that testing will not yet be available on the scale or frequency needed, we cannot reliably conclude at this time that we can safely provide an effective on-campus program this fall.

We of course hope that the public health situation evolves in ways that will allow greater in-person activity. We also recognize, however, that our students must be able to make appropriate plans for the Fall Term, and that we owe it to them to communicate a decision sufficiently far in advance to make that possible. As a result, we have necessarily determined that Harvard Law School’s programming will be held remotely during the Fall 2020 Term.

Several other law schools have discussed the possibility of adopting a hybrid model in the fall. Was this option considered for Harvard Law School and, if so, why has it not been adopted?

HLS examined the hybrid option with care, but concluded that three primary considerations all favored remote over hybrid learning this fall.

First, the Law School’s foremost obligation is to protect the community’s health and well-being. Too much remains unknown about the COVID-19 pandemic and its trajectory to permit the School to predict with confidence that students, faculty and staff can safely return this fall. Were HLS to bring students back to campus this fall, the School may be putting them, as well as faculty and staff, at risk of a spike in COVID-19 infections. Instead, HLS has chosen the same cautious approach taken by both the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Harvard Medical School, home to some of the world’s most renowned epidemiologists.

Second, a shift to distance learning has disparate impacts on segments of our population. In particular, a hybrid program works to the disadvantage of international students who may not be able to enter the United States this fall and of those with underlying health conditions who may be unable to attend live classes. HLS did not think it right to embrace a system that has those effects.

Finally, HLS determined that it was highly likely that the net impact on educational quality from hybrid learning would be negative rather than positive. Social distancing standards allow the School, for example, to seat at most 23 students in a WCC classroom designed for 86. Those watching at home in the hybrid experience will suffer all of the same challenges that all online learners have. The School concluded that rather than creating a live experience for a shifting fraction of each class, while the remainder attended class virtually, it was better for faculty to create the best online experience possible for 100% of the class. HLS faculty are already hard at work drawing from best practices in online learning, tailoring them to the distinctive law school pedagogy, and developing excellent online courses.

For additional information, please see this June 16, 2020 statement from HLS Dean John F. Manning, “Why HLS Will Be Online in the Fall”.

Does HLS expect to be remote in the winter and spring as well?

Our goal is to resume our on-campus academic programs as soon as it is feasible while ensuring the safety and well-being of every member of our community. Due to the uncertainty caused by the global pandemic, we will be making our decision about the nature of our Winter and Spring Term programs later this year. Our hope is to be on-campus, health considerations permitting. We will convey those decisions as soon as they are made, as well as detailed information about the impact of any decision on class selection, visa processing, and other issues students may face.

Leave of Absence / Deferral

Leave of Absence / Deferral

Were returning students able to take a voluntary leave from the program?

Yes. HLS recognized that an online learning experience may not be optimal for every student, and encouraged each student to make the best decision for themselves. To that end, HLS extended the deadline to June 22 for continuing students to request a voluntary leave of absence for either the Fall Term 2020 or for the full 2020 – 2021 academic year. The School also provided extensive information — online, through webinars, and during individual advising sessions — to help students understand their options and the many factors they should consider in making their decision.

Were newly admitted students able to defer their admission?

Yes. HLS recognized that an online learning experience may not be optimal for every student, and encouraged each student to make the best decision for themselves. To that end, HLS extended the deadline to June 22 for newly admitted JD and LL.M students to request a deferral. The School also provided extensive information — online, through webinars, and during individual advising sessions — to help students understand their options and the many factors they should consider in making their decision.

Additional Information Specific to International Students

Additional Information Specific to International Students

As an international student, how will the remote status impact me?

The format of Harvard Law School’s Fall 2020 Term will have significant implications for students who are not citizens or permanent residents of the United States. The Harvard International Office (HIO) has prepared and sent detailed guidance to all entering and returning international students. Please read this guidance carefully and contact HIO Advisor Peter O’Meara at peter_omeara@harvard.edu with any questions.

I am an international student. Will I be eligible for student loans if I am unable to obtain a visa?

Our preferred lenders have confirmed they will move forward with lending to international students who are outside of the United States. We are less familiar with the practices of other lenders so we encourage each student to do their own due-diligence when researching borrowing options. The Students Accounts Office is working on the details of disbursement arrangements and we will provide more details as they become available.

Harvard University Health Services

Harvard University Health Services

I am a student planning to enroll in the fall. What should I know about my access to Harvard University Health Services this academic year, as well as the student health fee?

Harvard University Health Services (HUHS) plans to be open for student services for the 2020-2021 academic year.

HUHS offers two levels of health care services. Through the first, all enrolled students have access to primary and mental health and other forms of care without copayment, and including telemedicine visits, in exchange for payment of a mandatory student health fee. This service should not be confused with major medical insurance coverage (such as the Student Health Insurance Plan, discussed below), and does not cover medical care outside the HUHS clinics, such as hospitalization, specialty care, or labs/radiology. It also does not include a prescription drug benefit.

The mandatory student health fee associated with this service for the coming year will be $603 per term for those living in Massachusetts. Because students living outside Massachusetts will have more limited physical access to HUHS clinics, HUHS is granting a 50% discount and students will be required to pay $301 per term. The payment is made once per semester. As a result, a student living outside Massachusetts in the fall would pay the discounted rate for the first semester. If that student returned to Cambridge in the spring, they would pay the full rate for the second semester. More information can be found on the HUHS website.

Separately, students may also choose to purchase major medical insurance through the Student Health Insurance Plan, which is administered by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts. This plan is different from the HUHS services mentioned above, and covers hospital, specialty care, labs/radiology, and includes a prescription drug benefit. Students do not need to purchase this insurance plan if they have comparable coverage from some other insurance source. Significant benefit changes are being implemented for the Student Health Insurance Plan next year, including increases in the number of covered medical and mental health visits. We recommend that every student enrolled in, or planning to enroll in, the Student Health Insurance Plan (which again, is separate and different from the services provided through HUHS clinics mentioned in the preceding two paragraphs) carefully review the planned changes on the HUHS website.

I am a student enrolled in the Student Health Insurance Plan and am considering taking a leave of absence. Can I purchase an extension of my health coverage?

Current students enrolled in the Student Health Insurance Plan (which is separate and different from the services provided through HUHS clinics in exchange for the mandatory student fee), and who decide to take a leave may purchase up to six months of extended coverage. This represents an extension from the four months students have previously been permitted to purchase. This information applies only to current students considering taking a leave of absence and not to incoming students considering a deferral. For more information, please contact Member Services.

 

Travel

Travel

What is Harvard’s travel policy for fall 2020?

Harvard has extended the prohibition on University-related international and domestic travel until further notice, and continues to strongly discourage personal travel, international as well as domestic.  These measures are among the steps the University is taking with the aim of lowering the risk of coronavirus transmission and helping ensure the health and safety of the Harvard community, as well as slowing the worldwide spread of COVID-19.  The travel prohibition does not affect individuals who are authorized to return to Cambridge/Boston and must travel to do so for the purposes of regular work or moving into on-campus housing.  Further information can be found on the travel guidance section of Harvard’s Coronavirus website.

New York Bar Waivers

New York Bar Waivers

I am planning to sit for the New York Bar after graduation. How will online learning in the Fall Term 2020 impact my ability to do so?

The New York Court of Appeals has approved a number of waivers to alleviate the challenges presented by the public health crisis. This includes a programmatic waiver of distance learning limitations that enables law students to continue their coursework virtually through the Fall 2020 term. The waiver applies to all categories of students, including J.D. students, LL.M. students, and students who have completed fewer than 28 credit hours. 

The Court has further noted, “Given the unique considerations presented by LL.M. programs, and the critical nature of the Court’s residency requirement for LL.M. students, law schools and students are advised that the Court does not expect to extend the distance learning waiver for LL.M. students beyond the Fall 2020 term.”  Please see the State of New York Court of Appeals June 4, 2020 order for more information.