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We want to ensure that both the student and your organization derive the maximum benefit from the Clinical and Pro Bono Programs at Harvard Law School. For that reason, we require that supervising attorneys meet regularly with students, discuss expectations and goals, give regular feedback, and submit written evaluations of the student's performance.
If a student is working for you for clinical credit, please make sure you have reviewed and met the requirements in the Supervisor Handbook (PDF).
The following guidelines are designed to ensure that the student, you and your organization derive the maximum benefit from participating in Harvard Law School’s Program of Clinical Legal Education. An active and well thought out supervision plan and feedback process between the supervisor and the student is essential for a productive experience.
Each student should be assigned to work directly with one supervisor, although the student may also consult with other office staff throughout the course of his/her placement. If the student is receiving assignments from more than one attorney, the supervisor should coordinate all assignments and review the student’s work product. (When there is more than one office, the student should be located in the same office as the supervisor.) The supervisor must be a licensed attorney.
Schedule an initial meeting at the beginning of the student's placement to discuss your and the student's expectations of the work to be done, the specific types of tasks the student will be assigned, the time frame for completion, and the goals of the project or placement. It may be helpful for you to express these mutual goals and expectations in writing. Provide the student with basic introductory information, including a brief overview of the organization, office policies and procedures and helpful resources for completing assignments.
Discuss issues of confidentiality and ethics with the student, keeping in mind that s/he may not have taken a course in professional responsibility prior to this placement. Provide the student with copies of office policies or other materials that you think will assist him/her in dealing with these issues. Talk to the student about how you would handle situations in which your duty of confidentiality might be compromised (e.g., discussing a case with a friend, etc.). Advise students as to the appropriateness of using writing from clinical work as writing samples in outside settings.
Please raise the issue of potential conflict of interests with the student and the rules of professional responsibility that must be considered. Keep in mind that students may have had multiple clinic experiences and/or summer jobs where they have potentially worked on competing sides of cases.
Assign the student responsibilities comparable to work that would be performed by a new attorney, and actively encourage the student to take on the most challenging work s/he can reasonably handle. You should provide the student with the opportunity to participate in a variety of interactions and proceedings that reflect the complexity and diversity of the legal work of the office. The student should approximate working as a lawyer to the maximum extent and should be intimately involved in, not just an observer of, the strategic decision-making process in matters in which s/he is involved.
Please meet weekly with your student. These meetings will provide an opportunity for you to explain assignments and provide critical feedback on the student’s performance. Also, it will allow the student to ask questions and to obtain your guidance on a regular basis. When you give a student an assignment, discuss the immediate and long term objectives and explain the context of the issue. Specify time deadlines and other expectations.
Regularly review, critique, and provide timely feedback on the student's work. Provide specific information on whether the student’s approach is effective, and suggest alternatives. It is essential to provide ongoing constructive feedback to enable the student to analyze his/her performance, improve, and gain confidence.
If the student is required to appear in court, please check with the Office of Clinical and Pro Bono Programs to inquire if the student either has been, or can be, certified to appear in court under local student practice rules.
It is the responsibility of the supervising attorney to be covered under a malpractice insurance policy and that the student will fall under the attorney’s coverage.
Students are responsible for consistently working the required number of hours each week throughout the semester. If a student is incommunicative, missing work or deadlines, please contact the Office of Clinical and Pro Bono Programs.
We appreciate your time and energy spent providing students with these unique opportunities to apply their legal skills and to serve the public interest!
If you have any questions or concerns about the process or difficulties in working with a student, please contact us.
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