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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 2023 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

  • 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: Ronald Sullivan, Jay Blitzman, Thomas Newman

  • 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: Tyler Giannini, Michael Gregory, 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. Class attendance is essential and required at all sessions including the first and last days of the workshop.

    The workshop runs 9am-5pm daily. After enrollment, students will be assigned to Working Groups, and you should expect that you will spend additional hours debriefing 1-on-1 with classmates, writing your analyses, and preparing to negotiate the next day.

    Students will be divided into working groups of 24 each. In addition to participating in the daily activities, students will be expected to keep a journal and write a short paper.

    Note: There may be days throughout the winter term that require attendance beyond the scheduled times. Please refer to the course syllabus and page for more information.

    The course was originally created by Michael Moffitt, Alonzo Emery, and Gillien Todd.

    Faculty: Sheila Heen, Morgan Franklin, Ariel Eckblad, Alonzo Emery, Deborah Goldstein, and Pedro Spivakovsky-Gonzalez.

  • Leadership Fundamentals

    Background: Harvard Law School graduates have a long history of leadership, drawing on the critical thinking, advocacy, and legal knowledge they learn at law school. This course introduces students to the fundamentals of effective leadership and helps them to explore and practice a variety of leadership approaches and skillsets. The course is highly interactive and team-based, allowing students to learn from each other and build stronger relationships among their peers. We learn about leadership through case studies, discussions and exercises, and also from guest speakers who are leading change in the legal profession, both in the public and the private sector.

    Teaching goals of the course/who should consider this course: 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.

    Course content: We explore a variety of fundamental leadership frameworks and tools, including:

    • Personal leadership:
      • Understanding your own working style and preferences and how to work more effectively across lines of difference
      • Understanding motivational and influence psychology in order to gain buy-in as a leader
      • Developing effective listening skills, human-centered design interviewing, negotiating conflict, and giving and receiving feedback
    • Team leadership:
      • Working in teams and leveraging important research about what makes for effective teamwork, such as how to improve team performance and communication, and how to create inclusive team environments
      • Understanding and building team resilience to help teams adapt to uncertainty, failure and rapidly changing circumstances
    • Leadership practices and frameworks:
      • Applying the leadership practice of public narrative and storytelling to drive change and grow personally and professionally
      • Applying design thinking principles to lead positive, human-centric change
      • Applying principles of adaptive leadership to thrive in uncertain times
    • Developing yourself as a leader:
      • Building professional and personal networks
      • Managing the increasingly complex levels of responsibility you encounter as you advance your career
      • Understanding career management strategies that help you grow and learn more effectively

    Course structure and expectations: Through a mixture of leadership case studies with guest speakers, interactive exercises, and working 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.

    Faculty:  Scott Westfahl

  • Pathways to Leadership Workshop for the Public Sector

    Harvard Law School graduates have a long history of becoming leaders in public service, 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 Sector is a new workshop designed to provide students with frameworks, tools, and perspectives that will accelerate and enhance their ability to succeed in public-sector leadership roles in the future.

    Through a mixture of leadership case studies drawn from the public 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. Exercises and projects, undertaken in teams, will facilitate learning about intentional team-formation, leadership and working style self-knowledge, appreciation of diversity on teams and the different forms that intelligence and knowledge-acquisition can take, network development, negotiating conflicts, giving feedback, effective listening, the psychology of motivation and influence, and leadership-oriented communication and presentation skills. 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 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. The problems will involve issues of privacy, cybersecurity, and intellectual property and 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.

    Faculty: William Lee and Felicia Ellsworth