Joshua C. McDaniel, the director of Harvard Law School’s Religious Freedom Clinic, was named an assistant clinical professor at Harvard Law School, effective Jan. 1.  

McDaniel brings almost a decade of top-flight experience as a practicing lawyer as well as deep expertise in law and religion cases. He joined Harvard Law School as a staff attorney in the Religious Freedom Clinic during the Fall Term 2020, and, in 2021, he was appointed a visiting assistant clinical professor and director of the law school’s Religious Freedom Clinic. 

“Joshua McDaniel brings a deep understanding of the First Amendment and the law of religion to the work of the clinic in defending the rights of individuals, especially those from vulnerable populations, to practice their religion,” said John F. Manning ’85, the Morgan and Helen Chu Dean of Harvard Law School. “I am very happy to welcome him to our faculty.”

“It has been a great honor to teach and work with Harvard Law students in the Religious Freedom Clinic. I’ve seen them accomplish amazing results for their clients and shape the law in positive ways. I can’t wait to see what they go on to do in this important and much-needed work,” said McDaniel. 

The clinic gives students hands-on experience representing a diverse group of clients in legal matters arising from many different religious beliefs, practices, and circumstances.  

Under McDaniel’s supervision, the Religious Freedom Clinic has handled numerous direct-representation matters, achieving several favorable settlements, a Ninth Circuit victory, and sweeping policy changes for prisoners throughout the state of Oklahoma. The clinic has also filed over a dozen amicus briefs, one of which was cited and relied upon by the Supreme Court in a recent landmark decision on the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act. 

Christopher Bavitz, WilmerHale Clinical Professor of Law and vice dean for Experiential and Clinical Education, said: “Josh McDaniel brings a wealth of subject matter expertise to the Religious Freedom clinic’s work on fundamental and timely issues, and he cares deeply about his students and about clinical teaching. I am delighted that he is a part of our clinical community at HLS.”

McDaniel previously served as an associate at Horvitz & Levy from 2015 to 2021, where he specialized in First Amendment and religious freedom, antitrust, franchise law, insurance, contracts, and arbitration cases.  

He earned a B.A. in Latin American Studies from Brigham Young University in 2008 and a J.D. from UCLA School of Law in 2012. He clerked for Judge Cormac J. Carney ’87 on the United States District Court for the Central District of California and Judge Jay S. Bybee on the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. 

He received the California Daily Journal’s 2022 California Lawyer Attorneys of the Year (CLAY) award. And, in 2021 and 2022, he was named a “One to Watch – Appellate Practice” by Best Lawyers. 

Harvard has the most wide-ranging clinical program of any law school in the U.S., with 38 clinics and 11 student practice organizations that enable students to provide free legal services to people in need under the supervision of clinical professors and instructors. In recent years, the law school has established new clinics in a wide range of legal areas, including the Animal Law & Policy Clinic, the Election Law Clinic, the LGBTQ+ Advocacy Clinic, the Institute to End Mass Incarceration Clinic, and the Religious Freedom Clinic.

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