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1. Attendance at Harvard Law School is full-time for a period of three academic years. Students enrolled at the Law School may not be simultaneously enrolled, either full-time or part-time, in any other school or college either within Harvard University or at any other institution, unless they are enrolled in one of the Law School’s joint degree programs, completing a semester at a foreign institution in an approved study abroad program, or cross-registered in courses authorized by Harvard Law School.
2. Students must complete the degree requirements for the J.D. within seven years (or to qualify for certain state bars, including New York, within five years) of matriculation in law school.
3. Pursuant to ABA rules and Law School policy, no student may undertake more than 20 hours per week of compensated work during the academic year.
4. The relevant registration, application, and submission deadlines for the current year are set forth in Sections VI-X.
The first-year requirements for the J.D. degree are:
1. The required first-year courses: Civil Procedure, Contracts, Criminal Law, International or Comparative Law, Legislation and Regulation, Problem Solving Workshop, Property, and Torts;
2. First-Year Legal Research and Writing, which includes the First-Year Ames Moot Court Program; and
3. A spring upper-level elective course of a minimum of two and a maximum of four Law School classroom credits. First-year students may take more than one elective course or register for writing credits in addition to one elective course only in special circumstances and with the permission of the Vice Dean for Academics. First-year students may not generally enroll in upper-level reading groups.
After satisfactory completion of the first-year Law School requirements, all J.D. students must earn no fewer than 52 additional credits in upper-level work, including:
1. Required Law School Classroom Work
Students must complete at least 36 credits in Law School classroom work (a category that includes courses, seminars and reading groups, but not writing, clinical, or cross-registration credits). Classroom courses taken in fulfillment of the Professional Responsibility Requirement count toward this minimum (see Section I.D).
2. Required Additional Credits
Students may earn the remaining required 16 credits by completing written, clinical or additional classroom work and by completing courses taken through cross-registration. Written work, clinical and cross-registration credits do not count toward the law school classroom credit minimum.
The following rules apply to these additional credits:
a) Clinical Work: Up to 12 credits may be earned through clinical work. Students may enroll in only one clinic and up to four clinical credits per term. Questions about clinical credits should be addressed to the Assistant Dean for Clinical and Pro Bono Programs. (See Section III.B)
b) Written Work: Up to 12 credits may be earned through written work (including work completed as part of the J.D. Written Work Requirement) completed either in conjunction with a seminar or course or independently (see Sections I.G and III.A).
c) Cross-Registration and Joint, Coordinated, and Concurrent Degrees: Up to 12 credits may be earned in courses taken through cross-registration or at another school as part of a joint or coordinated degree program (see Sections III.C and D).
d) Ordinarily, a student may not exceed the maximum limits on credits for clinical work, written work, and cross-registration. In exceptional cases, when a student is on track to meet the upper-level credit requirements as set out in this Handbook (including the minimum of 36 law school classroom credits), s/he may be permitted to exceed the credit limits for clinical work (with the permission of the Office of Clinical and Pro Bono Programs), written work or cross-registration, assuming that in so doing s/he exceeds the 52 upper-level credit minimum. In addition, any clinical or written work credits taken in excess of the maximum credit limits will not count toward Latin honors. See Section I.M.8(c).
3. Transfer Student J.D. Program- Special Considerations
a) Law courses taken before matriculation at Harvard Law School will be considered part of the transfer student's first year of J.D. studies and may not be used to meet any Harvard Law School upper-level requirements and will not be included in Latin honors calculations.
b) Transfer students must satisfy the Law School’s first-year requirements (with the exception of the Problem Solving Workshop) and can do so through demonstrating completion of comparable courses at their prior institution or completion of qualifying courses after matriculation at HLS. For list of qualifying courses, please consult the Office of the Registrar.
c) Harvard Law School courses taken by a transfer student--including first-year Law School courses and qualifying courses taken after matriculation to bring the transfer student into compliance with the School's first-year requirements--may be used toward the 52 upper-level credit minimum and will count in overall performance in the 2L or 3L year according to the rules set forth in this Handbook (ie., Credit/fail and cross-registration courses are not included in Latin honors calculations (see Section I.M)).
Table 1 - Upper-Level Credit Requirements
|Total Minimum Credits||Minimum Classroom Credits||Maximum Clinical Credits||Maximum Writing Credits||Maximum Cross-Registration Credits|
1. All students must complete a minimum of two classroom credits in satisfaction of the Professional Responsibility Requirement.
2. The classroom components of certain clinical courses, as identified in the course descriptions, satisfy this requirement.
3. Ordinarily, students are not allowed to enroll in two non-clinical courses that satisfy the Requirement, and should consult the Vice Dean for Academics if questions arise.
1. The upper-level residency requirements are:
Table 2 - Upper-Level J.D. Residency Requirements
|Residency Requirements||Minimum Total Credits||Maximum Total Credits|
|Each Fall and Spring Term||10 (including 8 HLS credits)||16|
|Each Winter Term||2||3|
a) Not fewer than 24 nor more than 35 credits each year in each of the 2L and 3L years, regardless of the number of credits needed to complete the required 52 upper-level credits;
b) Not fewer than 10 nor more than 16 credits in each fall and spring term, no fewer than eight of which each semester must be for Law School work. No fewer than four of the eight Law School credits must be for classroom or clinical work.
c) Not fewer than two nor more than three credits in each of two winter terms, all of which must be for Law School classroom or clinical work or for written work under the Winter Term Writing Program (see Section III.A).
d) Individual state bars may have additional law school residency requirements; students are advised to check those requirements for any state in which they may seek to practice.
3. Waivers: Any student wishing to seek a waiver to these upper-level JD residency policies should contact the Office of the Registrar. The rules and practices with respect to waivers are established and administered under the supervision of the Administrative Board.
Students enrolled in one of the School’s joint or coordinated degree programs may meet credit and residency requirements in part through courses taken at the other school. For more information, see Section III.D and the relevant program description. For questions about joint and concurrent degree programs, please contact Julie Barton, Director of Special Academic Programs. For questions about degree requirements at the other school, students should contact the appropriate administrator there.
All students are expected to pursue serious written work. The minimum requirement can be satisfied by a substantial research paper or by two smaller projects, as detailed here. In satisfaction of this requirement, students have the option to complete either 1. or 2:
1. Option 1 of the J.D. Written Work Requirement
a) Option 1 requires a substantial research paper of publishable or professional quality, to be written in close consultation with an HLS faculty member or instructor with an HLS appointment, in conjunction with a course, seminar or workshop (for an additional 1, 2, or 3 credits), or through independent study (for 2 or 3 credits).
The substantial work involved in these papers typically produces a final product of 30-60 pages for a two-credit effort. A small number of students pursue a larger project for three credits and aim for 100-200 pages. These papers can take the form of academic scholarship, policy analysis, or professional legal analysis and must be a substantial undertaking at least comparable to the time demanded by a semester-long course or seminar. Special rules may apply to empirical work.
b)Registration for Option 1
i. Deadlines (see also Section VII): Students must register for Option 1 of the J.D. Written Work Requirement in advance of engaging in the work by submitting the required registration form and proposal to the faculty supervisor for approval and then submitting the form and proposal to the Registrar’s Office by October 1, 2012 for fall term (2Ls and 3Ls) and by February 1, 2013 (all J.D. students) for spring term. Forms are available in hard copy at the Office of the Registrar, WCC 4007 and online.
ii. Proposal: The proposal should set forth the intended topic in a few sentences. Since faculty members may require additional preliminary work, such as an elaboration of the question to be addressed, the methodology to be used, a draft outline, or a longer description before accepting a proposal, students are advised to seek approval well in advance of the registration deadline. The Registrar’s Office will not accept J.D. Written Work Registration forms without a proposal attached and approved by the faculty supervisor.
iii. First-year students may, in special circumstances, register for Option 1 of the J.D. Written Work Requirement during the second semester of the first year provided they get prior approval from the Vice Dean for Academics to do so. In no case will written work substitute for the first-year spring term upper-level elective requirement of two to four law school classroom credits.
iv. Second-year students who register to fulfill Option 1 of the J.D. Written Work Requirement during the second year, and who anticipate that they may not complete this work by the end of the academic year, should be aware that if they have not completed 24 graded credits for the year of which no fewer than 18 are for Law School work they will be ineligible for the Sears Prize.
2. Option 2 of the J.D. Written Work Requirement
a) Option 2 requires two pieces of writing, which could include any of the following, provided that at least one of the pieces is written under the supervision of a Law School faculty member or instructor with a Law School teaching appointment:
i. Lawyer’s work product: including substantial original writing in a clinic (with approval of the Office of Clinical and Pro Bono Programs), upper-level moot court briefs, or the equivalent, as certified by the supervisor of the relevant program, but not written work from a summer job or paid work;
ii. Law school course and seminar papers: substantial writing as part of a course or seminar, including the standard series of reaction papers, amounting to no fewer than 15 pages:
iii. Law journal writing: including draft code and legislation, notes, book reviews, descriptions of developments in the law, and the like (totaling no fewer than 10 publishable pages);
iv. 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 persuasive or descriptive writing as approved by a Law School faculty member or instructor with a Law School teaching appointment.
b) Registration for Option 2 (see also Section VII): Students must register for Option 2 of the J.D. Written Work Requirement by submitting the registration form with required signatures to the Office of the Registrar by February 1 of the third year. The form is available in hard copy at the Office of the Registrar and online. A student with concerns about whether a particular piece or type of writing satisfies Option 2 or with questions about registering should contact the Director of Special Academic Programs or the Office of the Registrar (firstname.lastname@example.org).
3. Supervision: Students may ask any Law School faculty member or instructor with a Law School teaching appointment to supervise written work. Faculty on certain types of leave may not be available in a given term. Faculty have indicated availability to supervise written work in particular fields in 2012-2013 (by name or subject matter).
4. Supervision by Visiting Faculty: Writing credits under the supervision of visiting faculty must be registered for, and ordinarily completed during, the term(s) of the visitor’s appointment. Note that many visitors have Law School appointments for only one term. Students with questions about visiting faculty supervision outside of the faculty member's term of appointment should contact the Vice Dean for Academics.
5. Prohibition against Compensation: A student may not receive academic credit for written work for which he or she also receives compensation, with the exceptions of the Summer Academic Fellowship Program (managed by the Assistant Dean for Academic Affairs) and summer internships for which J.D. students have approval from the Associate Dean of Academic Affairs to receive academic credit.
6. Pro Bono and Written Credit for Political Activities
Harvard Law School is committed to the free and open expression of ideas, and HLS’s institutional commitment to free expression applies with equal force in the context of electoral politics. HLS encourages members of the community—faculty and staff as well as students—to participate, in their personal capacities, in politics at all levels.
However, federal law provides that Harvard may not “participate in, or intervene in (including the publishing or distributing of statements), any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for public office.” This prohibition on Harvard’s direct and indirect institutional participation in partisan politics is expressed in Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, as a condition that Harvard must satisfy in order to preserve and retain its status as a tax-‐exempt organization. In addition, the Federal Election Campaign Act (“FECA”) prohibits corporations from making direct and indirect “contributions” or “expenditures” in connection with a campaign or candidate. Contributions include services and anything of value.
Below is information based on guidance from Harvard’s Office of General Counsel on the applicability of FECA and Section 501(c)(3) to students’ proposed submission for credit of pro bono hours and written work relating to political campaign activities.
a) Pro Bono Credit
HLS’s current practice, which permits a student to receive credit towards the 40-‐hour pro bono requirement for legal work on campaigns for office, is reasonable. A student’s time spent volunteering for a political campaign may be credited toward the HLS pro bono service requirement under the following conditions:
i. As set forth in HLS policy, service on political campaigns should continue to be one of a broad array of service-‐related pro bono activities (including work for nonprofit organizations, charities, NGOs, government entities) from which students may freely choose.
ii. Faculty and staff should take care not to steer students to a campaign as a means of
satisfying the pro bono requirement.
iii. HLS should administer the award of credit in an evenhanded, politically neutral manner.
iv. Students, faculty and staff should not make use of University resources in undertaking
the political activity.
b) Writing Credit
The question whether HLS may award academic credit for written work relating to campaign activity presents more complications because work for academic credit is typically more likely to involve the use of Harvard resources, including faculty involvement and assistance. It is one thing for a student to receive writing supervision and credit for independently pursuing an issue that arose in connection with his or her campaign activity; it is another for a student to receive writing supervision and credit for work conducted for use by a campaign. Awarding of academic credit for written work drawing on campaign experience is appropriate, but only under the following conditions:
i. A student may receive academic credit for, and faculty may supervise, a writing project that arises out of campaign-‐related activities, provided the work is not directed by, prepared for, or to be submitted to a political campaign or any individual working with a campaign.
ii. All written work submitted for academic credit must comply with the ordinary terms and conditions HLS imposes for granting writing credits, as stated in the Law School’s Handbook of Academic Policies.
iii. Faculty and staff should take care not to steer students to a campaign as a means of
obtaining writing credits.
iv. HLS should administer the award of credit for written work in an evenhanded, politically
Finally, whether HLS would be viewed as participating indirectly or directly in a campaign will depend on the facts giving rise to the particular request. Additional guidance is available at: http://ogc.harvard.edu/documents/PoliticalActivities_GuidelinesforFacultyandStaff.pdf Harvard’s OGC is happy to discuss individual requests for guidance as they are presented.
7. Human Subjects Research: Law School projects involving human subjects are reviewed by the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Institutional Review Board (IRB). See: http://www.fas.harvard.edu/~research/HumSub.html. Students considering research projects,including surveys or interviews should review the University’s policies on use of human subjects in research and discuss their work with the Law School officer on the FAS IRB, Jan Jaeger, Director, IRB Operations (617-496-5593; email@example.com). Note that students should allow sufficient time for IRB review; late requests for review may not be granted.
As a condition for graduation, Harvard Law School requires all J.D. students to contribute at least 40 hours of uncompensated, pro bono legal work.
Work must be legal and supervised by a licensed attorney and must be performed on behalf of (1) people who cannot afford, in whole or in part, to pay for legal services; (2) the government; (3) a non-profit organization as defined under IRS sections 501(c)(3); or (4) a law firm working on a pro bono basis. The work should involve the application or interpretation of law, the formulation of legal policy, and/or the drafting of legislation or regulations. Political campaign may be credited toward the HLS pro bono service requirement under the conditions indicated in the School’s Pro Bono and Written Credit for Political Activities policy. See Section I.G.6(a). The work should not be clerical and must be uncompensated.
Students may perform their service in an approved supervised setting anytime between the beginning of the spring semester of their 1L year and before spring break of their 3L year, including the summers between law school years. The work may be, but need not be, performed in a setting in which HLS clinical credit is given or through many of the Law School’s volunteer student practice organizations. Summer public interest work funded through the summer public interest funding program (SPIF) also may count toward the requirement.
For more information about the Pro Bono requirement, please visit the Office of Clinical and Pro Bono Programs website (www.law.harvard.edu/academics/clinical) or contact the office at 617-495-5202 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Class work is essential to the educational program at the Law School. Regular attendance at classes and participation in class work are expected of all students. In cases of substantial delinquency in attendance, the Law School may, after written warning, treat students as having withdrawn from the course, clinic, seminar, or reading group in question. Students who believe they need to miss classes for an extended period of time must speak with the Dean of Students who can assist with such situations and can help students comply with the Law School’s attendance policy and related academic policies.
Students will not receive credit for courses, clinics, seminars, or reading groups with meeting times that overlap in whole or in part, including travel time.
Pursuant to the requirements of the law set forth in Chapter 151C, Section 2B of the General Laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, a copy of this section is printed in full:
Any student in an educational or vocational training institution, other than a religious or denominational educational or vocational training institution, who is unable, because of his religious beliefs, to attend classes or to participate in any examination, study, or work requirement on a particular day shall be excused from any such examination or study or work requirement and shall be provided with an opportunity to make up such examination, study, or work requirement which he may have missed because of such absence on any particular day; provided, however, that such makeup examination or work shall not create an unreasonable burden upon such school. No fees of any kind shall be charged by the institution for making available to the said student such opportunity. No adverse or prejudicial effects shall result to any student because of his availing himself of the provisions of this section.
Students anticipating missing class for religious observance should consult the Law School's Class Recording Policy (Section XIII.E) regarding class recordings.
1. Honors, Pass, Low Pass, or Fail Grades
All Harvard Law School courses, seminars, clinicals and written work—with the exception of courses offered Credit/Fail—will be graded Honors, Pass, Low Pass, or Fail (“H, P, LP, or F”).
2. Dean’s Scholar Prizes
Dean’s Scholar Prizes may be awarded in recognition of outstanding work in classes with seven or more Harvard Law School J.D. and LL.M. students.
3. Credit/Fail Grades
a) All reading groups, independent clinicals, and certain courses with prior approval from the Vice Dean for Academics will be graded on a Credit/Fail basis. Faculty may not award Credit/Fail grades without prior consultation with the Vice Dean for Academics.
b) All work done at foreign institutions as part of the Law School’s study abroad programs will be reflected on the student’s transcript on a Credit/Fail basis.
c) Dean’s Scholar Prizes may not be awarded in courses graded on a Credit/Fail basis or in classes with fewer than seven students.
1. Students may receive extensions for a course or written work with the permission of the relevant faculty member (see Section VIII). In order to track the progress of student course or written work for which an extension has been given, the Law School uses an “Extension” (EXT) transcript notation. Students who have an approved extension will receive an EXT notation on the transcript until the work is completed and graded. In the absence of an authorized EXT notation, a "Withdrew after Deadline" (WD) notation will be entered on the transcript. EXT notations must be resolved by no later than the last day of classes of the semester (fall or spring) that follows the originally scheduled completion of the course or written work. If a student fails to complete the work by that date or to receive a further extension, the Registrar’s Office will withdraw him or her from the course or written work and enter a WD on the transcript.
2. First and second-year J.D. students should note that course or seminar credits with EXT notations may not be used to meet any credit requirements in the following year.
3. If a student has an EXT at the end of the academic year, and as a result, has not completed the minimum number of required credits for the year (see Sections I.B and I.C), he or she will be ineligible for the grade-based Sears and Chu Prizes, and may not be eligible for clinical student court practice certification.
After an instructor has submitted a grade to the Registrar, the instructor may change the grade only if it was incorrect as a result of an arithmetical, administrative, or other "mechanical" error, and the grade change has been approved by the Vice Dean for Academics. A grade may not be changed as a result of a reevaluation of a student's work except by vote of the faculty. This rule does not apply to grade changes as a result of a disciplinary proceeding or administrative irregularity. All grade changes must be approved by the Vice Dean for Academics.
1. A student who completes the requirements for the J.D. degree with distinction will receive the degree cum laude, magna cum laude, or summa cum laude.
2. Latin honors at graduation will be based on the average of the three annual grade point averages (GPA). GPA will be calculated for each year of study and then averaged across the three years to determine Latin honors.
(b) For all students, in calculating annual GPAs, each grade, including the Dean's Scholar Prize, is weighted in accordance with the number of credits earned in the course.
4. The summa cum laude will be determined by the requirement of a 4.75 GPA. The honor is exact and does not involve "rounding off"; ie., a GPA of 4.749 does not result in a degree summa cum laude. If, in a given year, no student earns a GPA of 4.75 or higher, summa cum laude will be awarded to the student (or students in the case of a tie) with the highest overall GPA.
5. The magna cum laude will be awarded to the next ten percent of the entire class.
6. The cum laude will be awarded to the next 30 percent of the entire class.
7. All students who are tied at the margin of a percentage required for Latin honors will be deemed to have achieved the required percentage for the appropriate Latin honors. Students who graduate in November or March will be granted Latin honors to the extent that students with the same GPAs received Latin honors the previous May.
8. The following are not included in Latin honors calculations for any student:
a) Credit/Fail courses, including study abroad courses.
b) Cross-registration courses.
c) Clinical work or written work done in excess of the maximum credit limits.
d) Courses taken outside of Harvard Law School through a Law School joint or coordinated degree program.
e) Courses taken through the Berkeley Exchange Program or the Program for Third-Year Visits.
f) Grades earned in law school prior to matriculation to Harvard Law School.
g) "Withdrew after Deadline" (WD) notations.
1. The minimum grade required for completion of the J.D. credit requirements is a grade of Low Pass in all required courses and for the total number of credits required for the J.D. degree (see Sections I.B, C, and E—with the exception of coursework taken outside of the Law School for which the minimum grade is a grade of C or its equivalent.
2. Papers written to satisfy the J.D. Written Work Requirement must receive a grade of Low Pass or better with the exception of papers written for courses graded Credit/Fail which must receive a grade of Credit.
1. First-Year Work
a) Satisfactory completion of the first-year program—consisting of the required 1L courses (see Sections I.B.1 and 2) and the required upper-level elective credits—requires a grade of at least a Low Pass in every course, with the exception of the Problem Solving Workshop in which students must receive a grade of Credit.
b) Subject to Sections I.O.5 and I.P, a student receiving a grade of Fail in any required course in the first year must make up the failed credits in that course during the second year by retaking the course, taking a different examination in the same course, or in the case of the 1L International or Comparative course taking a different 1L International or Comparative course in order to maintain his or her minimum annual progress.
c) Subject to Sections I.O.5 and I.P, a student receiving a grade of Fail in the spring upper-level elective course must make up the failed credits in that course during the second year by retaking the course, taking a different examination in the same course, or taking a different course in order to maintain his or her minimum annual progress.
d) Credits for retaking a course, taking a different exam in the same course, or taking a different elective course, in order to complete first-year work are not counted for purposes of meeting the minimum credit requirements for the second year.
2. Second-Year Work
The following minimum requirements must be met:
a) Grades of Low Pass or better in the minimum number of required credits for the second year of study (see Sections I.B., C and E). Credits for retaking a course or taking a different course in order to make up failed upper-level credits are counted for this purpose.
b) Subject to Sections I.O.4, I.O.5 and I.P., a student receiving a grade of Fail in a second year course must make up the failed credits in that course by retaking the course, taking a different examination in the same course, or taking a different course if he or she does not meet semester or annual minimum residency requirements as a result of the failing grade.
c) Special dispensation to continue in the Law School after the second year of residence without having met these requirements may be granted by the Administrative Board under such terms as it deems appropriate.
3. Third-Year Work
If after completing three years of residency, the minimum grade requirements for the J.D. degree have not been met (see Section I.N), the following may be used to meet the degree requirements:
a) Additional courses may be taken to meet necessary degree requirements. In all cases, degree requirements must be completed in within maximum residency limits. (See Section I.A.3).
b) Subject to Sections I.O.4, I.O.5 and I.P, if a failing grade is the reason for failure to meet the degree requirements, a student may meet degree requirements by retaking the course, taking a different examination in the same course, taking a different course, or in another manner approved by the Administrative Board.
4. Subject to Sections I.O.5 and I.P., a student receiving a grade of Fail in the required Legal Profession course must make up the failed credits in that course by retaking the course, taking a different examination in the same course, or taking a different Legal Profession course in order to meet the School’s Professional Responsibility Requirement.
5. Any student receiving two or more grades of Fail during any academic year will be referred to the Administrative Board. The Administrative Board may decide, in such a case, that the student is unable to advance to the next year.
1. In all cases, the Dean of Students and relevant faculty members will consult to determine whether taking a different examination in the same course is the appropriate method for a student to make up failed credits.
2.If it is determined that a student should retake a course or take a different examination in the same course, s/he will be required to do so at the next scheduled time the course or examination in question is being offered.
3. The grade for retaking a course, for taking a different examination in the same course, or for taking a different course to make up the failed credits, if higher than the original grade, takes the place of the earlier grade for determining completion of J.D. degree requirements and minimum annual progress. It does not take the place of the earlier grade for purposes of determining Latin honors (for which the original grade will be used). Both the original grade and the grade for retaking the course, for taking a different examination in the same course, or for taking a different course to make up the failed credits will be recorded on the transcript.
4. With the exception noted in Section I.O.1d, courses retaken and new courses taken to make up failed credits are included in calculations regarding compliance with minimum and maximum registration requirements.
5. Special Dispensation: Exceptions from the rules regarding retaking courses, taking a different examination in the same course, taking a different course and substitute work may be granted only by the Administrative Board upon a showing of good cause.
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