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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 2024 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

    Assignments for the course include both individual and team-based work.  Although class time ends by 12:30pm each day, students should be available to meet with their teams in the afternoon to complete team-based assignments.  In lieu of a final exam, student teams will research, draft, and present an advocacy plan on a topic of their choice.

    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

  • Lawyering for Justice in the United States

    Many students come to Harvard Law School to learn to remedy injustices they have experienced or observed. Lawyering promises to be a concrete method of social justice problem solving, a set of tools 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 decide 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 on 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, system mapping, and the representation of individuals in proceedings in unjust systems. The course will end with “Action Day,” a day-long showcase in which students present creative projects to the class that highlight potential legal pathways for addressing one or more contemporary justice problems.

    Faculty: Tyler Giannini, Michael Gregory, Dehlia Umunna, and Esme Caramello

  • Negotiation Workshop

    ou already negotiate every day: with friends about where to go to dinner; with classmates about their world views; and with family members about holiday plans. Anytime you are trying to influence someone else, anytime you have a problem to solve or a decision to make, you are negotiating. In fact, you may be negotiating with yourself right now as you try to decide what you want to learn, and how hard you want to work during the January term.

    The same is true in your professional life. As an attorney, your ability to influence others determines your success. You will negotiate for assignments, for (more) humane working hours, and for equitable pay. With clients, your ability to deeply understand their interests and priorities will be crucial to negotiating successfully on their behalf with prosecutors and regulators; with counterparts in litigation; or in the course of exploring a possible deal. And, if you want to have sustained impact in society, your ability to thoughtfully collaborate with other organizations, influence decision-makers, and engage the public turns on your ability to negotiate skillfully.

    This workshop is an immersive experience designed to provide you with the analytical tools and skills necessary to increase your self-awareness and reach better negotiation outcomes. You will engage in simulations daily that prime you to reflect on the choices you made while negotiating, notice the impact your choices had, and experiment with different approaches. To help you in this process, you will receive consistent feedback through a variety of means: from your peers following each simulation, from the teaching team in class and during negotiation video reviews, through written assignments, and through an intensive exercise that invites you to consider a difficult conversation from your own life. You will also discuss how your identities and various sources of power impact your negotiations.

    Above all, this Workshop will equip you with the skills necessary to continue refining your negotiation practice throughout the rest of your personal and professional life.

    The Workshop is intensive and time-consuming. Participants should have no other work commitments during the winter term. Class attendance is essential and full attendance is required at all sessions including the first and last days of the workshop. Any interviews for summer employment should be scheduled outside of class time.

    On most days the workshop runs from 9am to 4pm. There may be days throughout the winter term that require attendance beyond the scheduled times. You should expect that you will spend additional hours beyond scheduled class time debriefing 1-on-1 with classmates and preparing to negotiate the next day. Students also will be expected to keep a daily journal and write a final reflection piece synthesizing their learning from the term.

    The 1L Negotiation Workshop was created by Michael Moffit, Gillien Todd, and Alonzo Emery and is led this year by Alonzo Emery with Ariel Eckblad, Debbie Goldstein, Sheila Heen, Pedro Spivakovsky-Gonzalez, Samuel Straus, and Gillien Todd, along with six Teaching Fellows. Enrolled students will be divided into working groups of 24 students each led by one of the faculty members listed here and a Teaching Fellow. Students will also engage with the entire Workshop faculty during larger group plenary sessions and lectures delivered by faculty members on a rotating basis.

    Faculty:  Alonzo Emery, Ariel Eckblad, Deborah Goldstein, Sheila Heen, Pedro Spivakovsky-Gonzalez, Samuel Straus, and Gillien Todd.

  • Leadership Fundamentals

    Background. Harvard 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.

    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 in their respective fields.

    Course content: We will discuss and practice applying fundamental leadership frameworks and tools, and build related professional skills, 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 safe, inclusive team environments
      • Presenting and communicating effectively as an individual team member and as a team
      • 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
      • Leading effectively in a crisis
    • 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 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

  • Pathways to Leadership Workshop for the Public Sector

    Do you have the feeling that you want to change something? Maybe there’s a pressing problem in your hometown that needs solving or a policy issue you just can’t stop thinking about. Maybe you’d like to lead that effort. Maybe this feeling is what brought you to law school in the first place.

    The Pathways to Leadership Workshop for the Public Sector will provide you with an opportunity to reconnect with your sense of purpose. Through a mixture of case studies drawn from the public sector, interactive exercises, extensive work in teams, and daily discussions with visionary government leaders, students will develop their capacity to make change. Projects undertaken in small groups will facilitate learning about intentional team-formation, leadership and working style self-knowledge, appreciation of diversity on teams, the various forms of intelligence and knowledge-acquisition, network development, giving feedback, effective listening, the psychology of motivation and influence, and leadership-oriented communication and presentation skills. The workshop will culminate with a final exercise that requires each team to work together to tackle a difficult problem.

    Faculty: Susan Crawford

  • The Craft of Lawyering

    We will use a series of case studies to explore the role of litigators and the craft of lawyering. The problems will involve issues of privacy, cybersecurity, federal statutory and constitutional law and intellectual property and will arise in both the civil and criminal context. 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. While the case studies are primarily litigation-focused, the information discussed and skills taught will be applicable in many different contexts.

    Faculty: William Lee, Felicia Ellsworth, Sarah Frazier