Join Defenders

Harvard Defenders provides first-, second-, and third-year Harvard Law School students with an invaluable opportunity to engage in direct, hands-on legal advocacy. Working in small groups, students participate in all stages of case development including case intake, interviewing clients, witnesses, police officers, and victims, conducting legal research, visiting the scene of the incident, and participating at the final hearing.

In addition to representing clients, students gain experience running a non-profit organization — a unique feature of student practice organizations. Defenders gives students the opportunity to become involved in all aspects of daily administrative and managerial operations, including conducting annual recruiting initiatives, overseeing the intake and management of cases, developing trainings, and actively participating in a wide range of community outreach projects.

Harvard Defenders accepts a varying number of new members each fall through an interview process. All 1Ls, 2Ls, 3Ls and LLMs are welcome to interview. Throughout the year, students work with an assigned team of approximately ten students who meet once a week with Defenders' clinical instructor, John Salsberg, to discuss cases. In addition, students must complete one hour of intake each week. This involves answering phone calls from potential clients and directing callers with legal issues outside the scope of show-cause hearings to other legal service agencies. Members are also expected to attend periodic training sessions.

For more information about Defenders, please email us.

Jack T. Litman Fellowship Program

The Jack T. Litman Program, established in 2012, is dedicated to the memory of Jack T. Litman, a renowned defense attorney who was a member of Harvard Defenders during his time at the law school. Each year, Harvard Defenders selects three law students to serve as full-time Litman Fellows.  Fellows have the unique opportunity to handle all their own cases, which involves interacting with clients, interviewing them in preparation for hearings, and conducting extensive investigations, which often entail meeting with witnesses and police officers.  In addition, Fellows develop their own litigation strategies and ultimately present their cases to clerk magistrates in the Boston area's criminal courts.

Fellows are also be required to perform academic research, on a topic of their choosing, related to a legal issue that they encounter during their fellowship. The papers are supervised by a Harvard Law School faculty member and will be presented at a Symposium in the fall. Last year's topics ranged from an academic paper exploring the moral and ethical dilemmas that defense attorneys face, to a guide on what to do when an attorney suspects child maltreatment, to the creation of a criminal immigration class, to be offered in the fall of 2013.

The Fellowship allows for flexible schedules and independence while providing a rare opportunity to advocate on behalf of actual clients. Work is supervised by John Salsberg, Harvard Defenders' Clinical Instructor, a practicing attorney with over thirty years of trial experience.

Fellows will be awarded $1000, in addition to SPIF funding. To apply for a 2013 Jack T.  Litman Fellowship, please submit a cover letter and resume to and Applications now accepted.

Last modified: January 29, 2014

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