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Supervising Students

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 the student is receiving assignments from more than one attorney, the supervisor should coordinate all assignments and review the student’s work product.
  • 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
  • You must complete a written mid-semester evaluation of the student's performance. You also must complete a written final evaluation of the student’s work performance at the end of the semester.  
  • Students must fulfill all clinical work hours on-site at the clinical placement.  Any exceptions or deviations must be discussed in advance with the clinical supervisor and the Office of Clinical and Pro Bono Programs.
  • Before the end of the semester, please discuss with students any close-out procedures they must comply with in order to complete their clinical work. Someone from the Office of Clinical and Pro Bono Programs may arrange a time to meet with you to conduct a 'site visit' during the semester.

Supervising Clinical Students

If a student is working for you for clinical credit, please make sure you have reviewed and met the requirements in the Supervisor Handbook (Word).

  1. Initial meeting
  2. Confidentiality and conflicts of interest
  3. Weekly meetings and feedback
  4. Mid-semester evaluation
  5. Final evaluation and recommended grade

Supervising Pro Bono Students

  1. Before the student begins work, both the student and the supervising attorney must complete a Project Terms and Conditions Form (PDF) and submit it to the Pro Bono Service Program. Any hours worked before the project has been approved will not be counted toward the student's 40-hour requirement. It is the student's responsibility to provide this form to the supervising attorney and verify it has been received by the Pro Bono office.
  2. This form is a good framework to use in discussing such issues as the substance of the project, training, deadlines and schedules, and how you will communicate (e.g.,by email, phone appointments, in-person).
  3. At the completion of the project, the supervising attorney will conduct an exit interview with the student.
  4. The supervising attorney also must complete and submit an evaluation of the student and sign the Time Log (download time log and evaluation forms) verifying the student's hours. It is the student's responsibility to provide this form to the supervising attorney and verify it has been received by the Clinical and Pro Bono office.

At A Glance Checklist for Supervisors

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.


Primary Supervisor

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.

Initial Meeting

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.

Confidentiality

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.

Conflicts of Interests

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.

Assignments

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.

Weekly Meetings

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.

Feedback

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.

Student Court Certification

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.

Malpractice Coverage

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.

Student Absences

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.

Last modified: August 16, 2014

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