Government Lawyering – Policy and Practice: Semester in Washington

Spring 2009
5 clinical credits, 4 classroom credits, 1 writing credit (10 total credits)

"Government Lawyering – Policy and Practice: Semester in Washington" is a new clinical course created to offer HLS students the opportunity to spend the spring semester in Washington, D.C. working as legal assistants in a variety of federal offices while taking a course on law and government. Students will work full-time (minimum 25 hours a week) in their clinical placements, attend evening classes twice a week, and do an independent writing project. James Flug will teach the course in Washington, D.C. and develop placements based on students’ interests. HLS faculty members Elizabeth Warren, Philip Heymann, Alex Whiting, David Barron, and John Manning may be guest lecturers.

Classroom work will include discussions of students’ experiences in their clinical placements, and will focus on the forces that constrain or empower the application of lawyering skills in government offices. It will examine the special roles and skills required of government attorneys, the unique ethical, legal, and moral issues they face, and the impact of politics and ideology on their work.

Clinical work will expose students to the distinct forms of lawyering practiced by government attorneys in diverse positions in the federal government. Placements will be coordinated in conjunction with students and may span various settings like the House and Senate, or federal agencies such as the Federal Election Commission, the Environmental Protection Agency, or the Department of Justice. Students may elect to start their placements early by spending the Winter Term in D.C., supplemented by a weekly two-hour group discussion, for 2 clinical credits.

The program also includes an independent writing project. Students will write an academic paper on a topic related to government lawyering with a member of the HLS faculty in Cambridge.

Enrollment is by application and limited to 2L and 3L students. Up to 12 students will be selected for the program. If the course is oversubscribed, some preference will be given to 3Ls. Students will be reimbursed for travel costs to and from D.C., but not for living expenses. Students are also responsible for making their own living arrangements. As some federal offices require lengthy security clearances, some students who are accepted may need to commit to the clinical program prior to having a definitive specific placement. 

Information Session

Friday, September 19
12:00 P.M. - 1:00 P.M.
Pound 201
Lunch provided 

Applications due October 1

Enrollment is by application only. Interested students may apply by submitting the following materials to the Office of Clinical and Pro Bono Programs (Austin 102, or by October 1, 2008:
1) Current resume or curriculum vita that includes employment and extracurricular history
2) Academic transcript including currently enrolled courses (unofficial version from MyPlan or photocopy of official transcript is acceptable)
3) Cover letter explaining interest in the program, desired type of placement, and if you intend to also spend the Winter term in D.C.

Last modified: July 17, 2010

© 2015 The President and Fellows of Harvard College. All rights reserved.