HLS J.D. Written Work Requirement FAQ

      


Introduction

Option 1

Option 2

General Option 2 Questions

Attorney Work Product  Including Clinical Writing and Moot Court Briefs

HLS Course or Seminar Paper

Law Journal Writing

Nontraditional Legal Writing


INTRODUCTION


Q: How can I satisfy the Written Work Requirement ("WWR") at HLS?
A: Students can satisfy the WWR with HLS writing that is either:
(1) a substantial research paper for 1, 2 or 3 credits, written under HLS faculty supervision (Option 1); or
(2) two pieces of writing, one of which must be supervised by an HLS faculty member (Option 2).


Q: What are the major differences between the two options?
A: Option 1 papers are generally longer, more involved papers for which you get writing credit (if you do the paper in conjunction with a law school course or seminar, you get these writing credits in addition to the classroom credits you get for the course or seminar itself). You will not generally get additional credit for your Option 2 writing beyond the credit you received in the law school course, seminar.


OPTION 1 (substantial research paper for 1, 2, or 3 credits)


Q: How do I register for Option 1?
A: You must submit a completed registration form to the Registrar’s Office. Prior to submitting the forms, you must obtain a faculty supervisor and get his or her approval of your proposed project.


Q: Within Option 1, what are the different types of papers that satisfy the WWR?
A: Students may write (a) a 2 or 3-credit independent paper; or (b) a 1, 2, or 3-credit paper written in conjunction with a course, seminar, or workshop. Either type must be written in close consultation with an HLS faculty supervisor.


Q: May I use the Winter Writing Program to work on an Option 1 paper?
A: Yes.  The Winter Writing Program is a great way to have time to focus exclusively on your Option 1 paper.


Q: How do I find someone to supervise my Option 1 paper?
A: Students should feel free to ask any faculty member to supervise written work although faculty members on certain types of leave may not be available in a given term. We have lists of faculty (by name and subject matter) who have indicated availability to supervise written work in particular fields. You may contact faculty members directly, and we encourage you to do so earlier rather than later.


Q: Can a visiting faculty member supervise my Option 1 paper?
A: Yes, but ordinarily, a paper supervised by a visiting faculty member should be completed within the term of the visit or within an agreed-upon reasonably short time thereafter. You should contact the Vice Dean for Academics if you would like to have a visiting faculty member supervise outside the term of his or her HLS appointment.


Q: How long do Option 1 papers have to be?
A: There is no set page length for an Option 1 paper because the requirement that the project be "substantial" pertains to the work involved, not the pages. For example, an empirical project could involve designing, administering, and analyzing a survey or assembling and analyzing a data set and yet produce findings that can be summarized in relatively few pages while an historical or doctrinal analysis might require many more pages to present the work. You should consult with your faculty supervisor to determine how many credits your project will receive.


Q: Can I use nontraditional writing as my Option 1 project?
A: Nontraditional writing supervised by a faculty member will satisfy Option 1 as long as it is of the appropriate scope. For example, the total page length of an empirical analysis may be significantly shorter than a research paper on a similar topic, but involve the same amount of work.


Q: Can I do my Option 1 paper during the Winter Writing Program ("WWP")?
A: Yes. You may participate in the WWP in order to concentrate on researching and/or writing your Option 1 paper. You and your faculty supervisor should work out how much of the paper you need to complete by the end of the WWP.


Q: Is there a minimum grade for Option 1 papers?
A: Yes. You must receive a LP in order to satisfy the requirement.


Q: Can I write my Option 1 paper during my 1L year?
A: You may write your Option 1 paper in addition to enrolling in the upper-level elective of 2-4 classroom credits during the spring term of your 1L year.  In order to do so, you must get permission from Vice Dean for Academic Programming.


Q: Can I use a journal piece to satisfy Option 1?
A: Law review work done for credit, with accompanying faculty supervision and such additional work as a faculty member requires may be used to satisfy Option 1.


Q: Can I use a paper written for a cross-registered course at another school?
A: No. The writing must be done for an HLS course, seminar or workshop or if an independent project, with an HLS faculty supervisor.


Q: I’m a joint degree student; can I use a paper that I wrote for a course at the other school?
A: No. The writing must be done for an HLS course, seminar or workshop or if an independent project, with an HLS faculty supervisor. Joint degree students should consult the description of their particular program for more information.


Q: Can I use scholarly writing done over the summer for Option 1?
A: Yes, as long as it is faculty-supervised work for which you registered during the previous academic year or it is pursuing faculty-supervised work under the competitively-granted student writing grants.


Q: Is there anything special I have to do if the research for my paper involves interviewing people, conducting surveys, or obtaining information about living individuals by other means?
A: Students are responsible for the ethical implications of their research. If a student’s project involves interviews, surveys, or obtaining information about individuals by other means, it may require review by the Committee on the Use of Human Subjects in Research.  Please complete this questionnaire and then contact the Law School liaison at the Committee, Rebecca Holmes-Farley, cuhs@fas.harvard.edu, to determine whether your project requires review.


[back to top]


OPTION 2 (two pieces of writing, one of which must be faculty supervised)


General Option 2 Questions

Q: What types of writing qualify for Option 2?
A: (1) Attorney work product including substantial writing in a clinic, upper-level moot court briefs, or the equivalent; (2) law school course and seminar papers, including the standard series of reaction papers, amounting to no fewer than 15 pages; (3) law journal writing including notes, book reviews, descriptions of developments
in the law, (totaling no fewer than 10 publishable pages) and (4) nontraditional writing produced under faculty supervision, including interactive web-based material, surveys of students or practitioners with analysis, case study materials appropriate for classroom use, or other law-related writing outside of the forms mentioned.


Q: How do I register for Option 2?
A: You  register for Option 2 by completing and submitting the registration form.


Q: Do I have to turn in my Option 2 writing to the Registrar's Office?
A: No. However if your Option writing was part of clinical work, you must submit a copy of the clinical writing to the Assistant Dean of Clinical Programs to confirm its eligibility.


Q: If I am using writing for a course or seminar for Option 2, does my professor have to give a verification signature?
A: No. You do not need to obtain a verification signature for a paper written for a course or seminar.


Q: Do I need signatures for the other types of Option 2 writing?
A: Verification signatures are needed as follows for the other types of writing:

Clinical Writing 
(see the “Attorney Work Product Including Clinical Writing and Moot Court Briefs” section below for details about Option 2 clinical writing)

IMPORTANT:  A Clinical Office signature is required for all clinical writing in addition to the required signature(s) listed below.

  • In-house clinics: HLS Clinical Faculty Director
  • Externship Placements: Clinical Supervisor 

Moot Court Briefs

  • Ames – BSA
  • Other – faculty supervisor of the moot court competition team

Law Journal: Editor-in-chief of the journal

Nontraditional Writing: Faculty Supervisor


Q: What types of writing are considered faculty supervised?
A: Law school course or seminar papers and nontraditional writing are faculty supervised. All clinical writing in an in-house clinic (with the exception of WilmerHale Legal Services Center (LSC)) will be considered faculty supervised. Clinical writing for LSC or for an externship placement will be considered  faculty supervised is the writing is supervised by an HLS faculty member or Lecturer on Law.


Q. Can I use a take-home exam to satisfy Option 2?
A. No. You may not use any type of exam to satisfy Option 2.


Q. Can I use summer practice work to satisfy Option 2?
A. No.


Q. Can I use the Winter Term Writing Program to work on Option 2 writing?
A. No.


[back to top]


Attorney Work Product Including Clinical Writing and Moot Court Briefs

Q: How do I know if the writing I've done for a clinical qualifies as one of the two pieces of writing?
A: The clinical writing you want to use for Option 2 must be substantial. To be substantial the writing must involve original thinking and critical analysis. You must get verification as described below that the writing qualifies under Option 2 and you must get a signature from the Clinical Office in order to use clinical writing to satisfy Option 2.


Q: What type of clinical writing does not qualify for Option 2?
A: Clinical writing that does not qualify for Option 2 includes memos, briefs and other documents that rely on boilerplate or standard texts commonly used in that practice where only the facts of the case have changed; clinical journals or reflection pieces; and compilations or summaries of data without analysis.


Q: Can I use writing from an independent clinical or from an externship placement?
A: Yes, assuming it meets the clinical writing criteria noted above and assuming you've gotten the required signatures, including a signature from the Clinical Office.

Q: How do I get signatures for clinical writing?
A: Clinical writing requires the signatures of the clinical attorney who supervised your writing and the Assistant Dean of Clinical Programs.  After obtaining the signature of your clinical supervisor, submit the registration form to the Clinical Office with a copy of your clinical writing (with confidential and client information redacted).  If a copy of the writing cannot be submitted to the Clinical Office, your clinical supervisor must email the Assistant Dean of Clinical Programs with a description of your clinical writing.


Q: What is the difference between getting verification for my clinical writing, and having confirmation that the writing is considered faculty supervised?
A: If you want to use clinical writing for Option 2, you need verification that the writing is substantial so you need a signature as indicated above. As long as the writing is considered substantial, you can use it for Option 2. However, not all clinical writing will be considered faculty supervised. Clinical writing in an in-house clinic (with the exception of LSC) will be considered faculty supervised. Clinical writing for LSC or for an externship placement will be considered faculty supervised if the writing is supervised by an HLS faculty member or Lecturer on Law. 


Q: Can I use writing from a clinical and a paper from the course,  workshop or seminar connected to the clinical as my two pieces of Option 2 writing?
A: Yes, as long as you have two different faculty supervisors for the writing, and each piece of writing qualifies under the applicable rules.


Q: Can I use jointly-written clinical writing with one other student?
A: Yes. Jointly written papers or briefs may be used but must be at least 30 pages in length to qualify.


Q: What types of moot court briefs qualify?
A: Qualifying-round and higher Ames briefs qualify as do briefs written for other moot court competitions (1L Ames briefs do not qualify).


[back to top]


Harvard Law School Course or Seminar Paper (15 pages or more)

Q: Are course or seminar papers considered faculty supervised?
A: Yes.


Q: What types of law school papers qualify under this section of Option 2?
A: Papers done for a seminar or course that are of fifteen or more pages in length qualify.


Q: Can I use writing from a reading group?
A: No.


Q: What if I wrote a series of response or reaction papers in a course, rather than one larger paper?
A: If the total length of the papers is 15 pages or more and the faculty member agrees, the series of papers qualifies.


Q: Can I use a paper written for a credit/fail class?
A: Yes, but a passing grade is required for Option 2 writing.


Q: Can I use a paper I wrote when I was a 1L?
A: Assuming the page length minimum is met, you may use a paper from your 1L elective or an optional written work paper done in the 1L year.


Q: Can I use a course or seminar paper written for a cross-registered course?
A: No. The writing must be done for an HLS course or seminar.


Q: I'm a joint degree student, can I use a course or seminar paper that I wrote for a course at the other school?
A: No. The writing must be done for an HLS course or seminar.


Q: Does the paper required after return from a semester of study abroad qualify?
A: Post-study abroad papers written under the supervision of an HLS faculty member for credit qualify as one of the two pieces of writing.


Q: Can I use a paper written for a visiting faculty member's seminar or course?
A: Yes. Ordinarily, such a paper should be completed within the term of the visit or within an agreed-upon reasonably short time thereafter.


Q: What about a joint paper written with one or more other students?
A: Your professor should decide whether the work done by an individual student is sufficient to satisfy Option 2, in comparison with the challenge, scope, and quality of work done in papers written by individual students.


[back to top]


Law Journal Writing (10 publishable pages or more)


Q: What does "10 publishable pages" mean for law journal articles?
A: In order to be considered for credit, the accepted article must be at least 10 journal-sized pages. Once the article has been edited and formatted for the journal, it may appear as fewer than 10 pages and still be considered for credit. Please check with the individual journals before submitting an article as journals may have specific formats for article submissions.


Q: What if my article is accepted for publication, but then never gets published?
A: If an article is accepted and verified by the journal editor-in-chief, it can qualify under Option 2.


Q: Can I use multiple pieces of journal writing to satisfy the requirement?
A: You may meet the 10 page minimum using a combination of no more than two shorter pieces of journal writing.


Q: Are there any limits on using journal articles?
A: You may not use both a journal piece and the course or seminar paper it is based on to satisfy Option 2.


Nontraditional legal writing produced under faculty supervision


Q: What is nontraditional writing?
A: Think outside of the research paper box: you could do interactive web-based material; empirical analysis of survey or other data; case study materials for classroom use; etc. As long as you have a faculty supervisor who approves the project, you can do almost any kind of law-related writing.


Q: How long does nontraditional writing have to be?
A: There is no required length for a piece of nontraditional writing; you should work with your faculty supervisor to figure out the appropriate length for your project.


Contact the Registrar's Office, registrar@law.harvard.edu, 617-495-4612, or the Office of Clinical and Pro Bono Programs, clinical@law.harvard.edu, 617-495-5202, with questions.


[back to top]

Last modified: December 19, 2014

© 2014 The President and Fellows of Harvard College. All rights reserved.