Skip to content

October 6, 2023

As you settle into the academic year, we are reaching out today to draw your attention to the principles and policies in the 2023-2024 Handbook of Academic Policies, including those highlighted below. They contain important information that all students need to know. Therefore, we are encouraging you to familiarize yourselves with all of these policies. 

  • Academic honesty and integrity. It is critical that students understand the importance of integrity and honesty in their work in law school. In addition to outlining the School’s academic and related requirements, such as the rules on attendance and residency, the number of credits required to graduate, exam procedures, and requirements for papers, the Handbook of Academic Policies also details policies concerning academic honesty. Please also see the HLS Administrative Board’s standing policies concerning exams and its statement concerning sanctions for academic dishonesty.
  • Classroom engagement norms. A classroom environment conducive to learning requires students to be able to engage with one another in an atmosphere that encourages experimentation, trying on arguments for size, and making mistakes. This is especially important in a law school where our pedagogy not only requires students to speak in class but often to take positions on topics not of their choosing. To protect the ability of students to speak candidly with one another and their instructor without fear that their statements will be disseminated to the outside world, the binding HLS Community Principle on Non-Attribution outlines important policies and restrictions related to posting on social media with attribution statements made by others in class.  The Handbook of Academic Policies also notes that students may not record classes and specifies other classroom policies.
  • Community norms for engagement in shared spaces. Our mission as an educational institution requires robust discussion, debate, and disagreement. The University-Wide Statement of Rights and Responsibilities underscores this foundational commitment, noting that “freedom of speech and academic freedom” are “values which are essential to . . . an academic community.” Our HLS Community Principles similarly affirm that “[t]he Law School’s commitments to fairness, respect for the rule of law, and free inquiry require an environment of trust and mutual respect, free expression and inquiry, and a commitment to truth, excellence, and lifelong learning.” These rights explicitly include the right to assemble, protest, and dissent. The Law School’s binding Protest and Dissent Guidelines and the University-Wide Statement together specify a set of time, place, and manner restrictions that support the right to assemble, protest, and dissent while also ensuring that doing so does not interfere “with members of the University in performance of their normal duties and activities,” disrupt or prevent others from exercising their rights to assemble and speak, or disrupt or interfere with the ability of the University or Law School to carry out its educational mission to the benefit of all our students. For our policies on campus postings, bulletin and chalkboards, and event recordings, please see the rules posted on the Community Engagement, Equity, and Belonging website.

We know the Handbook of Academic Policies is lengthy, but please read this information carefully as you are responsible for meeting all requirements and adhering fully to all policies, including but not limited to those we highlight above. Any policy violations may be subject to HLS Administrative Board review and subsequent disciplinary action, which can affect bar admissions. It is thus essential to understand and adhere to the guiding principles that define our responsibilities and privileges as members of a shared academic and legal professional community comprised of students, faculty, and staff. 

We are calling your attention to this information because we want to see each of you succeed in your time at Harvard Law School, and we and our larger student services team are here to help.