Skip to Main Content
There are a number of ways to engage in international legal studies during Harvard Law School’s Winter Term. The Law School offers many courses with a significant emphasis on international, foreign or comparative law, several of which are taught in an intensive fashion over winter term. This document focuses on opportunities to do independent clinical or research / writing projects abroad during Winter Term.
Clinical Projects: HLS J.D. and LL.M. students may apply to participate in a two-credit Independent or Continuing Clinical during the Winter Term, which involves working 40 hours per week under the supervision of an on-site attorney and in coordination with an HLS faculty sponsor. For more information, please contact the Office of Clinical and Pro Bono Programs in WCC Suite 3085, 6 Everett Street. HLS students are not eligible for credit for an “internship” abroad unless it meets the criteria of an independent clinical placement.
Research / Writing Projects: HLS J.D. and LL.M. students may register for the Winter Term Writing Program. A student who participates in the Winter Term Writing Program devotes his/her Winter Term to intensive, individualized research and writing under the supervision of an HLS faculty member. Please see the Winter Writing Program web page for more information, including specifics regarding credits.
Please note that HLS students may not take courses at a foreign law school as a way of earning credit for Winter Term.
HLS J.D. and LL.M. students who will be traveling abroad in furtherance of an approved Winter Term Clinical or Research / Writing project may apply for a Winter Term International Travel Grant. Funding will be awarded in amounts expected to range from $800 to $2,000 per qualifying student, depending on the strength of a student’s proposal and the financial requirements of the project, as demonstrated in a reasonable and well-constructed budget. However, students will only receive grants if their proposals are strong, as described in the Necessary Project Elements section below. Undertaking such projects is a serious commitment and requires an expenditure of time before and after Winter Term.
In order to be eligible for a Winter Term International Travel Grant, a student must complete two applications: one regarding the substance of the project and the other for the travel grant itself. The process is analogous to applying for admission and financial aid.
Substantive program applications are due as follows:
International travel grant applications are due as follows:
Again, the Winter Term International Travel Grant Program confers a financial grant only. Students are responsible for arranging academic credit for the Winter Term directly with appropriate faculty and offices as specified above.
In order to be considered for a Winter Term International Travel Grant, an HLS student must:
Please note, however, that these are minimum eligibility requirements and meeting them does not necessarily guarantee a Winter Term International Travel Grant. Also, although expenses for international travel can be significant, the Grants Selection Committee is concerned primarily with the quality of the proposed project. The fact that it would be expensive for a student to undertake certain travel is not, in and of itself, the basis for a substantial grant. For further information about what makes a proposal strong, and therefore more likely to receive a grant on the larger end of the spectrum, please see the sections on Necessary Project Elements and Examples of Strong Proposals.
Applicants should also note the following:
Students have participated in a wide variety of international projects and placements during the Winter Term. Examples of past research / writing project topics include: changes to the Russian visa regime and its effect on non-governmental organizations; universal jurisdiction in French courts; legal strategies for economic development to protect traditional resource users in Mali; the effect of co-determination on German corporate governance; and gang violence in El Salvador and human rights abuses in the government’s response, among others. Students should consult with their faculty supervisors about the best direction for writing projects.
Examples of past clinical placements include: the Australian Law Reform Commission; South Africa’s National Prosecuting Authority; the Documentation Center of Cambodia; the Public Interest Law Institute in Hungary; the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society; and the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law. Students may wish to consult with the Clinical and Pro Bono Programs Office for guidance on projects of interest.
Students need to consider the potential value of their projects as well as possible risks and challenges. Winter Term is quite short and students must think carefully about the scope and work plan of their projects. Inevitably, students who prepare in advance both substantively (e.g., reading, consulting with people who have relevant expertise, arranging meetings for Winter Term) and in terms of logistics (e.g., accommodations, transportation, and even safety) have a much better and more productive Winter Term experience. Conducting clinical work or research abroad can pose particular challenges and students need to try to anticipate how they will adapt to different conditions.
Properly planned Winter Term projects can be fascinating and rewarding. Some students have considered Winter Term abroad to be the highlight of their time at HLS. But in order for these Winter Term projects to be successful, students must plan and prepare appropriately.
Please note: If a student’s project involves interviews, surveys, or other ways of obtaining information about individuals, it may require review by the Committee on the Use of Human Subjects. For further information, see the section below on Use of Human Subjects. Also, students are urged to attend a special session about this subject on which will be held on Monday, October 21 at 12 p.m. in Wasserstein B015.
Although the topics and methodologies of projects can range considerably, certain elements contribute to the strength and success of a project proposal. In deciding which projects merit grants, and the amounts of those grants, the Selection Committee will consider:
For examples of elements that made some recent proposals compelling, please see the section below entitled Examples of Strong Proposals.
Winter Term International Travel Grants will be awarded on an individual basis so that the program can support a variety of well-conceived projects. Students who propose to undertake a project in a pair or small group must submit separate applications and provide a detailed explanation of why each student is necessary and the specific role s/he will play. Usually no more than three students may receive funding for the same independent Winter Term project though exceptions may be made if circumstances warrant. As applications will be evaluated independently, it is possible that students working together will not all be awarded grants or that, if they are, the amounts may differ.
Students are responsible for the ethical implications of their research. If a student’s project includes research involving human subjects, including interviews, surveys, or obtaining information by other means, it may require review by the Committee on the Use of Human Subjects. The Law School liaison at the Committee, Rebecca Holmes-Farley, can determine whether a student’s project requires review, and assist with the application process.
Students should check with Rebecca in advance of submitting their funding applications (due November 1) in order to ascertain whether their projects require review and, if so, to obtain it in a timely manner. In order to facilitate the review process, we will hold a session about the use of human subjects on Monday, October 21 at 12:00 p.m. in Wasserstein B015. Students are strongly urged to attend this session in order to hear from Rebecca about the requirements for review, and to discuss with her whether their specific projects need approval from the Committee on the Use of Human Subjects.
Winter Term International Travel Grants will not exceed the amount of anticipated, reasonable expenses detailed in the grant application. Funding will be awarded to qualifying students in amounts expected to range from $800 to $2,000 per student. Grants will not exceed $2,500 per student save in exceptional circumstances justified in the application budget.
Please note that students opting to purchase plane tickets in advance of the November 13 grant notification date should be aware that grants are not guaranteed. Therefore, students should plan carefully to secure the funding needed and may wish to purchase cancellation insurance.
The budget proposal should include only reasonable expenses that are necessary for the completion of the project. Students should try to secure the least expensive flights possible. If travel will not originate in Boston, it should be because it is less costly to travel from another city to the destination than it is to travel from Boston to the destination. Other expenses such as lodging can be included in the budget proposal for funding consideration if they are necessary costs. However, expenses related to retaining an apartment in Cambridge, MA while traveling abroad cannot be included in budget proposals. Expenses must also be verifiable – a student will be asked in his/her budget proposal to specify where s/he found the prices noted, and will need to provide receipts upon his/her return.
Winter term international travel grants are not guaranteed and those students who receive grants may be awarded amounts that are less than their anticipated expenses. Therefore, students are encouraged to seek out additional ways to defray travel expenses well in advance of winter term. The Sources of Funding section below provides links to research centers and programs that might be of interest. A student who does not receive sufficient funding for his/her project may inquire with Student Financial Services about a possible loan to cover a shortfall in Winter Term project expenses.
Applications for Winter Term International Travel Grants from J.D. and LL.M. students doing Independent or Continuing Clinicals and J.D. students participating in Winter Term Writing must be submitted in hard copy to International Legal Studies in Wasserstein 5005 by 5:00 p.m. on Friday, November 1, 2013. LL.M. students applying for the Winter Term Writing Program should submit their grant applications in hard copy by Friday, November 15, 2013 to International Legal Studies in Wasserstein 5005.
Applications for Winter Term International Travel Grants must include the following:
We will notify J.D. students by Wednesday, November 13, 2013 whether they have been awarded a Winter Term International Travel Grant and, if so, the amount. J.D. students and LL.M. students conducting clinical projects will have until Monday, December 2, 2013 to decide whether to accept the travel grant in relation to a winter term project abroad. LL.M. students who apply for the Winter Term Writing Program will be advised of funding decisions following decisions on their writing program applications.
Upon notification that a student has been awarded a grant, s/he will receive a grant agreement as well as relevant information about the grant. All steps specified in the grant agreement must be completed by the stipulated deadlines, or the student will be asked to reimburse his/her grant in full to Harvard Law School.
In order to receive a grant, a student must complete the following steps no later than Monday, December 2, 2013:
Once a student completes and submits all appropriate paperwork, it generally takes at least three weeks to receive a check. Students should not expect to receive checks before the end of the HLS final exam period in December. Checks will be mailed between December 12 and 19, 2013 to the mailing address provided by the student, provided that s/he submits the appropriate paperwork in a timely manner. Because Harvard University is closed for part of December, payment requests received after Monday, December 2 may not be processed until January.
Students must complete the final grant requirements no later than Friday, February 14, 2014:
We hope that all students who receive Winter Term International Travel Grants will be able to take advantage of the funding. However, if a student does not pursue or complete his/her project in substantially the form proposed, then s/he is responsible for notifying the grant committee and returning any funding received.
Sources of funding for the Winter Term International Travel Grant Program include the Cravath International Fellowships, the Human Rights Program, and the Reginald F. Lewis Internship Program. Their funding priorities are described below for informational purposes. However, there is no need for students to apply separately for Cravath, HRP, and Lewis grants as they will be coordinated as part of the Winter Term International Travel Grant Program.
Cravath International Fellowships provide funding to a selected number of HLS students to pursue academic projects with an international, transnational, or comparative law focus. Priority will be given to J.D. students, but LL.M. students are also eligible to compete for selection. Although Cravath Fellows' projects may involve clinical placements, efforts will be made to first fund the strongest research proposals.
The Human Rights Program awards a small number of grants to HLS students conducting human rights research abroad during Winter Term. The program’s emphasis is on research for Winter Term Writing involving research in the developing world. HRP will also consider proposals from students traveling to the developing world in connection with human rights clinical or advocacy projects. (Note: the Human Rights Program will only sponsor students who have previously participated in a HRP clinical.)
Reginald F. Lewis Internship grants are available for research and clinical projects of an international nature. Past Lewis internship grants have supported work relating to law and development, environmental law, human rights, and international business, trade, and poverty, among other areas of focus.
Mead Cross Cultural Stipends are available to fund research, clinical work, study or other educational endeavors to be undertaken by students during the winter term that foster a better understanding and appreciation of differences in jurisprudence among cultures, and to advance Harvard Law School's goal to provide comparative international legal experiences.
Depending on the nature of the project, students may also wish to inquire directly with various research centers and programs at Harvard Law School or research centers and programs throughout Harvard University about possible sources of funding.
Here are examples of elements that made some recent proposals compelling:
Student A had secured a clinical placement with a non-profit organization in Australia that dealt with art law. His project involved license agreements for artists participating in creative enterprise hubs designed to revitalize city centers. The student had practical and academic experience with art / entertainment law and intellectual property law and policy. He described specifically how his Winter Term work would build on skills and knowledge he had gained through experiences prior to law school, summer jobs, and courses at HLS, as well as how the clinical placement would allow him to gain understanding in a practice area that directly related to work he hoped to do after law school. It also seemed that the student would be able to contribute significantly to the placement organization. The application included a strong endorsement from his faculty advisor which confirmed the sense of the Selection Committee that the student was well-positioned for an effective Winter Term project.
Student B wished to travel to South Korea to conduct research for a paper on a pilot program to assess whether the country should adopt a jury system. He intended to observe and review records of jury trials that were not available elsewhere, and to interview Korean lawyers and judges. The student had worked in South Korea previously and possessed the necessary foreign language skills to conduct his research independently. It was clear from the student’s proposal --- and the recommendation from the HLS faculty member supervising him --- that he had conducted a good amount of research on the topic in the fall semester. He was able to identify specific research questions and had contacted key individuals in South Korea to enlist support in arranging access during his visit. (The student’s paper was later accepted for publication in a noted peer-reviewed journal, though this accomplishment was exceptional rather than the norm for Winter Term projects.)
Student C conducted an independent clinical with the International Labor Organization office in Thailand. Her project examined labor protection and migration laws in the region, a logical outgrowth of her previous clinical and summer work in Asia and the US on anti-trafficking laws and immigration reform. She had taken a number of courses at HLS that provided her with relevant context for her Winter Term placement, and was able to articulate clearly how her project would be structured and what she hoped to learn from it.
Conversely, here are examples of problems with proposals that have resulted in the students not being granted funding:
These examples do not constitute a comprehensive survey of strong and weak aspects of projects, but illustrate some key aspects the Selection Committee considers when evaluating proposals. It is not necessary for a student to have spent time previously in the country to which s/he plans to travel over Winter Term, but familiarity with the local context and language can be critical to working effectively. And while it is certainly possible for a student to spend Winter Term exploring a topic of recent rather than long-standing interest, the topic and destination should have some relevance to the student’s areas of study, skills, and experience, and not be a random choice or a thinly veiled justification for a leisure trip. Simply identifying an intriguing topic is not sufficient; a student must indicate how s/he will be able to do serious work on the subject over Winter Term.
Students should direct questions as follows:
J.D. Winter Term Writing Program
Director of Special Academic Programs
LL.M. Winter Term Writing Program
Independent or Continuing Clinical Projects
Office of Clinical and Pro Bono Programs
WCC 3085, 6 Everett Street
Winter Term International Travel Grant Program
International Legal Studies
Back to Top