Skip to content

The 1L January Experiential Term curriculum allows first-year students to explore different areas of law and experience what it’s like to practice law in different settings. The courses emphasize teamwork, skills training, and self-reflection, and are designed to help students bridge the gap between academic courses and practical lawyering, while making connections with fellow first-year classmates.

Winter 2022 Offerings

  • Advocacy: The Courtroom and Beyond

    Taught by practicing attorneys, this course allows students to develop their oral, written, and strategic advocacy skills. Through interactive exercises, case studies, and team-based work, the course introduces students to ways to advance a client’s interest in a variety of different contexts, including in impact litigation, in the private sector, in the criminal law context, and in the public eye.

    Working with their teams, students will: learn advocacy strategies; analyze amicus briefs and other written advocacy; practice negotiating; develop oral presentations; draft a letter to the editor and an op-ed in support of their advocacy efforts.

    In addition to course readings and writing assignments, students will work in teams to research, draft, and present an advocacy plan in lieu of a final exam.

    Faculty: Ara Gershengorn, and Erin Walczewski

  • Technology and the Public Interest

    Lawyers can make a difference through their work in an extremely broad range of ways. This January Experiential Term course is focused on the law, policy, and practice of technology in the public interest. As digital technologies transform industries, political systems, and the lives of nearly everyone on the planet, a new job has arisen for lawyers: how can we protect the public interest as innovation swirls in all directions? Societies tend to prioritize creativity, change, and growth in the form of new and exciting digital technologies. This change brings with it great opportunities as well as a new slew of challenges in addressing racial inequity, upholding individual privacy, preserving safety and security, and many other important principles. This course offers a chance for 1Ls during their Winter term to explore this continuously evolving field of law with an emphasis on the myriad ways lawyers can shape the way that technologies are developed, constrained, and managed to promote justice, equity, and inclusion in the broad public interest.

    Faculty: John Palfrey

  • Financial Analysis and Business Valuation

    Lawyers routinely use and critically analyze financial statements and business valuations.  Of course, corporate lawyers advise organizations and design deals that depend on these skills, and tax lawyers, commercial litigators, and international trade lawyers also use these skills.  But less obviously, family lawyers need them in divorce cases, constitutional lawyers use them in takings cases, and class action lawyers use them in products liability cases.  In fact, lawyers of all kinds, including prosecutors, other government lawyers, and public interest lawyers, use these skills to present and resolve disputes, and to propose, critique and defend regulation of businesses.

    This course will provide students with an opportunity to engage in hands-on, law-related analysis of financial statements and business valuation and analysis.  No prior background in these topics is required.  We will first analyze basic financial statements; then move to more advanced financial statement analysis; then review basic methods of business valuation; then build information from financial statements into standard valuation model; then see how practitioners argue for wildly different valuations drawing on the same basic financial information.  Students will work in teams, and build their knowledge through hands-on experience using case studies of real companies.

    Faculty: John Coates

  • Introduction to Trial Advocacy

    In the U.S. legal system, a trial is the principle mechanism designed to resolve disputes between adverse parties. Partisan advocates on either side of an issue present evidence to a neutral arbiter – usually a jury, which, in turn acts as a finder of fact. An impartial judge decides matters of law and manages the trial process.

    Trial Advocacy is both art and science. At bottom, an effective advocate paints a word picture of an historical event for strangers who were not percipient witnesses to the disputed event. Creating a compelling narrative is an art, which through study and practice, can be developed and mastered. The technique and structure of examinations, statements, and argument is in form similar to a science. It is tried and true method, which through study and practice, can be developed and mastered.

    This course is an introduction to effective advocacy. It focuses on predicate areas of advocacy not traditionally covered in trial advocacy courses. ITA begins with a study of case theory. Case theory, as the phrase suggests, represents the narrative an advocate advances to persuade a fact finder to accept the advocate’s narrative. The course then moves to lawyer-client interaction, including the initial interview, and the thorny ethical issues that relationship may, on occasion, entail. Finally, the course teaches two of the most important tools in the trial lawyer’s toolkit, direct and cross examination.

    Faculty: Thomas NewmanJay Blitzman and, Santha Sonenberg

  • Lawyering for Justice in the United States

    Many students come to Harvard Law School to learn to correct injustices they have experienced or observed. Lawyering promises to be a concrete method of social justice problem solving, a set of tools that the lawyer can use to make a positive difference. But what does it really look like to “lawyer for justice”? The strategies and tactics of public interest lawyers vary widely depending on their clients, their causes, their geography, and their own interests, talents, and expertise. How do you choose how to lawyer? What tools in the lawyer’s toolkit are best suited to your task? And what are the limits on the lawyer’s role? How do lawyers situate themselves in the ecosystem of change agents, offering their unique skills (and credentials) while making space to learn and benefit from other voices and methodologies?

    This course will help first-year students explore these foundational questions through interactive sessions led by experienced practitioners teaching and lawyering in the HLS clinical programs and their community partners. Each day, a clinical teacher working on a different social justice problem – immigration, predatory lending, human rights, criminal justice, education, housing, building a solidarity economy, and more – will share their thoughts on what it means to lawyer for justice and will lead students through discussions and exercises that offer first-hand experience of a wide range of lawyering dilemmas and approaches. Collectively, the sessions will cover a diverse set of lawyering techniques, including impact litigation, legislative and policy advocacy, transactional work, community lawyering, media advocacy, system mapping, and the representation of individuals in proceedings in unjust systems. The course will end in a full-day “hackathon” in which students will apply human-centered design principles to the development of strategies and tactics to address one or more contemporary justice problems.

    Faculty: Esme CaramelloMichael Gregory, Tyler Giannini, and Dehlia Umunna

  • Negotiation Workshop

    Most lawyers, irrespective of their specialty, must negotiate. Litigators resolve far more disputes through negotiation than by trials. Business lawyers — whether putting together a start-up company, arranging venture financing, or preparing an initial public offering — are called upon to negotiate on behalf of their clients. Public interest lawyers, in-house counsel, government attorneys, criminal lawyers, tort lawyers, and commercial litigators all share the need to be effective negotiators.

    This Workshop, by combining theory and practice, aims to improve both the participants understanding of negotiation and their effectiveness as negotiators. Drawing on work from a variety of research perspectives, the readings and lectures will provide students with a framework for analyzing negotiations and tools and concepts useful in negotiating more effectively. Participants will spend much of their time in a series of negotiation exercises and simulations, whereas negotiators and critical observers, they will become more aware of their own behavior as negotiators and learn to analyze what works, what does not work, and why.

    The Workshop is intensive and time-consuming. Participants should have no other work commitments during the winter term. Specifically, participants should be available each day from 9:00am until 5:00pm (although class will sometimes end earlier). There will be simulations and videotaping on some evenings. Class attendance is essential and required at all sessions including the first day of the workshop and the evening sessions.

    Plenary sessions of the full class will be devoted to demonstrations, discussion problems, lectures, video and film. Much of the time devoted to exercises and simulations will take place in the smaller working groups, each of which will be led by an experienced instructor and a teaching assistant. In addition to participating in the daily activities, students will be expected to keep a journal and write at least two short papers.

    Faculty: Sheila HeenAlonzo Emery, Morgan Franklin, and Gillien Todd

  • Leadership Fundamentals

    Law School graduates have a long history of leadership, drawing on the critical thinking, advocacy, and negotiation skills and technical legal knowledge they learn and practice during law school. This course will introduce students to the fundamentals of effective leadership and help them to explore and practice different leadership approaches and skillsets. The course will be highly interactive and team-based, allowing students to learn from each other as well and also to build stronger relationships among their peers. We will learn about leadership through various case examples and also from guest speakers who are leading change in the legal profession, both in the public and the private sector.

    This course is designed for students who are interested in building a deeper understanding of leadership frameworks, practices, and tools to accelerate their ability to create impact as leaders in their respective fields.

    We will discuss and practice applying fundamental leadership frameworks and tools, and build related professional skills, including: personal leadership; team leadership; leadership practices and frameworks; developing yourself as a leader.

    Through a mixture of leadership case studies with guest speakers, interactive exercises, and extensive work in teams, students will explore the real-world skills and mindsets that leaders call upon to catalyze change across the legal profession. Instructors and teaching assistants will provide regular feedback to teams with respect to written and oral presentations. Especially because this is a team-based course, students are expected to attend each class in order to work in their teams and contribute to team assignments. Students will complete light homework assignments each evening, often with their assigned team, and will have a final team project and presentation at the end of the course.

    Faculty:  Scott Westfahl, and Meredith Boak

  • Pathways to Leadership Workshop for the Public Sector

    Harvard Law School graduates have a long history of becoming leaders in public service, the public interest world, and the non-profit sector, often drawing on the critical thinking, advocacy, negotiation, and technical legal knowledge and skills they have learned and practiced during law school. The Pathways to Leadership Workshop for the Public/Non-Profit Sector is a course designed to provide students with frameworks, tools, and perspectives that will accelerate and enhance their ability to succeed in leadership roles in the future.

    Through a mixture of leadership case studies drawn from the public/nonprofit sector, interactive exercises, visits from guest speakers, and extensive work in teams, students will explore the real-world skills that leaders call upon to catalyze change.

    Specifically, students will: become more adept at understanding their own motivations and preferences and more aware of their own blind spots; become better-skilled at team formation and understand best practices for collaboration; become conversant with styles of leadership and tools and practices that work well with these styles; begin the work of becoming better negotiators-a skill that lawyer-leaders call on and develop throughout their careers; consider and work through hard moral and ethical dilemmas; become better at publicly describing the sources of their personal missions; understand best practices and skills associated with collaborating across differences in social identity; and, throughout, work on leadership-oriented communication and presentation skills. This is a highly practical, skills-based, experiential offering.

    Instructors and teaching assistants will provide regular feedback to teams with respect to written and oral presentations. As a final exercise, student teams will integrate the skills and tools they have gathered during the workshop (as well as through their varied life experiences) and connect theory to application through working together to solve a difficult leadership problem.

    Faculty: Susan Crawford

  • The Craft of Lawyering

    We will use a series of case studies to explore the role of lawyers and the craft of lawyering in an increasingly complex technology world. The problems will involve issues of privacy, cybersecurity, intellectual property and other technology based issues. Our problems will arise in both the civil and criminal context and we will engage in a series of exercises to explore the analytical, writing, presentation and negotiation skills necessary to effectively perform the multiple roles of lawyers in the technology world.

    Faculty: William LeeFelicia Ellsworth, Sarah Frazier