April 11, 2019

Harvard Law School

Harvard Law School
1563 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138

Law School Pro Bono Programs

Contact Information

Lisa Dealy
Assistant Dean, Clinical and Pro Bono Programs
Office of Clinical and Pro Bono Programs

Sheryl Dickey
Attorney-Advisor for LL.M. Pro Bono Program
Office of Clinical and Pro Bono Programs

Lee Meredith Mestre
Associate Director, Office of Clinical and Pro Bono Programs


Category Type

Public Service Graduation Requirement Program

Description of Programs

Students must perform at least 50 hours of uncompensated, law-related public interest work on behalf of people who cannot afford (in whole or in part) to pay for legal services, or; for the government, or; at a non-profit organization as defined under IRS sections 501(c)(3) & (4) protecting rights of marginalized individuals/groups or working in the broader public interest, or; in a law firm working on a pro bono basis. The work may also be performed in a setting in which clinical credit is given, in conjunction with a faculty pro bono project, in student-initiated projects, or in many HLS volunteer student organizations. Student's work should involve the application or interpretation of law, the formulation of legal policy, or the drafting of legislation or regulations. Work should have an advocacy or representational component. It should not be primarily clerical in nature. Eligible tasks include: assisting an attorney at trial, client and witness interviewing and investigation, drafting documents, preparing a case for trial, assisting pro se litigants in court, community legal education, and research and writing. All work must be supervised by a licensed attorney.

On average, students at HLS perform over 500 hours of pro bono work each.

Location of Programs

The program is administered by the part-time Associate Director of Clinical and Pro Bono Programs and the part-time Attorney-Advisor for LL.M. Pro Bono Program. Administrative assistance is also provided.


The program is administered by the full-time Director of Clinical and Pro Bono Programs and the assistant Director of the Pro Bono Program. Staff administrative assistance is also provided.


Funding is provided through the law school budget and individual donor gifts.

Student Run Pro Bono Groups/Specialized Law Education Projects

Harvard Defenders (HD): Provides advice and/or representation to low-income defendants in criminal show-cause hearings and in District Courts.

Harvard Immigration Project (HIP): Provides legal services to immigrant and refugee clients and policy advocacy in support of the local immigrants’ rights movement through four main projects: Immigration Services Project (ISP), Iraqi Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP), Removal Defense Project (RDP), and the Policy Project.

Harvard Law Entrepreneurship Project (HLEP): provides legal research and advice to projects affiliated with students at Harvard and MIT.

Harvard Mediation Program (HMP): provides mediation services in landlord-tenant, small claims, harassment prevention and other cases.

Harvard Mississippi Delta Project: engages in a broad range of public policy assignments in the Mississippi Delta.

Harvard Negotiators (HN): engages in various negotiation and dispute resolution projects.

Harvard Prison Legal Assistance Project (PLAP): represents inmates in Massachusetts state prisons in disciplinary and parole board hearings, provides information and referrals with prison-related problems (medical, civil rights and property), and works on impact litigation and prison policy initiatives.

HLS Advocates for Human Rights (Advocates): Assists NGOs and other institutions around the world and the Human Rights Clinic’s projects on everything from transnational human rights litigation, homelessness in Boston and Cambridge, human rights in Myanmar, and prison reform.

Project No One Leaves (PNOL): provides information, education and mediation services to help former owners and tenants stay in their homes after foreclosure.

Recording Artist Project (RAP): assists under-served musicians and music entrepreneurs in such matters as copyright/trademark registration and counseling, and the review, drafting and negotiation of management, recording and publishing agreements and other music industry related transactions.

Tenant Advocacy Project (TAP): provides representation at administrative hearings at Public Housing Authorities, as well as advice on landlord-tenant issues for tenants who receive subsidies through a housing authority.

HLS TaxHelp - HLS TaxHelp provides low-income, elderly, and handicapped residents in Cambridge and Somerville with free, confidential tax assistance in preparing state and federal tax returns.

Faculty and Administrative Pro Bono

It is expected that all members of the regular, full-time teaching faculty will perform, on the average, at least a similar amount of pro bono activity to what is required of students (50 hours). Since all members of the faculty are not practicing lawyers, the qualifying services for faculty members should be rendered to the listed organizations in the fields of their respective expertness. The aspirational goal with respect to faculty service is included to stress the importance of the professional value of pro bono service. Since there are no sanctions or reporting requirements, faculty members seeking to comply are expected to follow their own common sense in deciding to their own satisfaction whether they had met the guidelines.


Kaufman Dinner - For all 3Ls, LLMs and SJDs planning to go into public service upon graduation or after a clerkship. Features a cocktail hour and sit down champagne dinner at the Harvard Faculty Club. The Law School Dean and Assistant Dean for Public Service and an alumnus in public service all speak. Is attended by faculty, clinical instructors and public service administrators who toast the students.

Gary Bellow Awards - Organized by a student group and selected by students through school-wide nominations and voting. An award is given to one otherwise unsung alum (i.e. not someone famous who has already won awards) and one student for their contributions to social justice. Features faculty and student speakers. Dean Kagan usually participates.

The day before graduation, at "Class Day" which also features a keynote speaker, students are presented with awards for community service, and the student with the most pro bono hours is given the Andrew L. Kaufman Pro Bono Service Award. These awards are presented by the Law School Dean. Students who do over 1000 hours of pro bono service are recognized in the graduation program.

Graduating students who receive the Kaufman, Fine, Skirnick or Heyman Fellowships, in recognition of their potential for outstanding career in public service based on their existing accomplishments, are also listed in the graduation program.

Community Service

Springfest Volunteer Day: a day-long opportunity, organized by various student groups, for anyone in the Harvard community to participate in volunteer projects in local communities.

A number of our student groups have annual community service projects such as toy, clothings, and food drives at the holidays.

Law School Public Interest Programs

Contact Information

Alexa Shabecoff
Assistant Dean for Public Service
P: (617) 495-3108
Bernard Koteen Office of Public Interest Advising

Sheila Hubbard
Assistant Director
P: (617) 495-3108
Bernard Koteen Office of Public Interest Advising

Lisa Williams
Assistant Director and JD Advisor
P: (617) 495-3108
Bernard Koteen Office of Public Interest Advising

Carolyn Stafford Stein
Attorney Advisor
P: (617) 495-3108
Bernard Koteen Office of Public Interest Advising

Dan Ahearn
Attorney Advisor
P: (617) 495-4606
Bernard Koteen Office of Public Interest Advising

Ginny Greiman
Attorney Advisor
P: (617) 495-3108
Bernard Koteen Office of Public Interest Advising

Joan Ruttenberg
Director of the Heyman Fellowships in Federal Government Service
P: (617) 495-3108
Bernard Koteen Office of Public Interest Advising

Judy Murciano
Fellowships Director
P: (617) 495-3108
Bernard Koteen Office of Public Interest Advising

Tracy Landers
P: (617) 495-3108
Bernard Koteen Office of Public Interest Advising

OPIA also has additional experienced attorney career counselors for the busy 1L season between November 1 and December 15th.

OPIA also hires one or two law students (last year two JDs) to help advise students about public international opportunities and about our supplemental funding for those opportunities.

Certificate/Curriculum Programs

While HLS does not have a public interest specialization, roughly 2/3 of students take clinical courses with placements working on public interest cases. Unlike some schools, HLS clinics are not selective and many students choose to do a clinic every semester.

Public Interest Centers

The Bernard Koteen Office of Public Interest Advising (OPIA) - http://www.law.harvard.edu/students/opia/

Child Advocacy Program - http://www.law.harvard.edu/academics/cap/

Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice - http://www.charleshamiltonhouston.org

International Center for Criminal Justice - http://www.law.harvard.edu/programs/criminal-justice/

Public Interest Clinics

Each academic year, Harvard Law School offers more than 50 courses with clinical components. The Law School supports and staffs 10 in-house specifically for the practice education of second- and third-year law students.

HLS Clinics include:

Note: In addition to the clinics, a limited number of students can earn credit through participation in a Student Practice Organization (SPO). SPOs, which are student-run and supervised by clinical instructors, provide a variety of legal services to the low-income community. They include Prison Legal Assistance Project, Tenant Advocacy Project, Harvard Defenders, and the Mediation Program.


Externships are clinical placements outside of Harvard Law School in which attorneys at public interest organizations, government and community agencies, and occasionally private law firms provide supervision. About 2/3 of our clinical placements are at in-house (HLS) clinics and the remaining 1/3 are externships/field placements.

Our largest field placements are through the Government Lawyer course; up to sixty students each year can be placed at the United States Attorney's Office and the Massachusetts Office of the Attorney General.

Clinical externships are offered through courses and independently designed projects on a wide variety of issues including: children's rights, gender violence, civil rights, education, disability, and sports law.

Classes with a Public Service Component

None listed

Public Interest Journals

BlackLetter Law Journal

Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review

Environmental Law Review

Human Rights Journal

Journal of Law and Public Policy

Latino Law Review

Women's Law Journal




PI Career Support Center

Public sector employers participate in both the spring and fall On-Campus Interview programs.

The Bernard Koteen Office of Public Interest Advising (OPIA), an independent career services office for students and alums interested in public service, provides a wide array of services, including:

Individual advising sessions: Every HLS student is encouraged to sit down for 45 minutes to an hour with one of OPIA's Attorney Advisers or Fellowships Director. OPIA conducts approximately 1200 individual advising sessions per year. Some students come in for multiple advising sessions. The Advisers on staff also review and critique resumes and cover letters and conduct mock interviews.

Our advising staff includes an advisor who focuses exclusively on fellowships. As a result, students and graduates get intensive help identifying the right fellowships to help them land the job of their dreams, preparing their essays and getting ready for their interviews.

Our 1L Advising Initiative, administered jointly by OPIA and the Office of Career Services, is designed to provide individual advising for every 1L during the months of November and December, specifically focused on helping students get oriented and comfortable with the 1L job search process. To further that end, we have a set of self-evaluation materials to help begin the job search process, individual advisors assigned to every student to act as a gateway for career issues during the first year, a schedule of career programs designed specifically for the needs of 1Ls, and practice interviewing sessions with our alumni and other lawyers.

Our advising staff is supplemented by the Visiting Wasserstein Public Interest Fellows Program. Through this program 8 to 16 outstanding public interest lawyers, who apply to participate, come to campus each year to counsel students one on one. See http://www.law.harvard.edu/students/opia/details.php?id=wasserstein

Programming: OPIA offers a wide variety of panels designed to introduce students to different types of public interest opportunities and provide them with networking with wonderful public interest lawyers. These panels include experienced attorneys from around the globe. OPIA also offers workshops on job search skills geared to the specific demands of the public interest market, as well as events featuring faculty with public interest experience. This past year we sponsored or co-sponsored more than 60 events.

Publications: OPIA has authored several books about public service including: I. Materials we share with others (See http://www.law.harvard.edu/students/opia/details.php?id=section&toc=Publications)

The Public Interest Job Search Guide, Volume I (USA - 400 plus pages) and Volume II (International - 200-plus pages)(updated annually) - largely considered the leading print resource on public interest law.

Alumni In Action, Volumes I and II

And numerous specialty guides, including:

Campaign Guide

Capitol Hill Guide

Children's Rights Guide

Civil Rights/Civil Liberties Guide

Fast Track to a U.S. Attorney's Office

Careers in Foundations for Lawyers

Careers in Health Law

How to Make the Most of Your Summer Job

Immigration Guide

Legal Services Guide

LGBT Guide

National Security Guide

OPIA's Guides to Cheap Living

OPIA's Guide to Conservative/Libertarian Public Service

Pro Bono Guide for Law Students: Evaluating Pro Bono Work in a Law Firm Practice

Private Public Interest and Plaintiff's Firm Guide

Sizing up the Prosecution

Trail Guide to Environmental Legal Careers

Women's Rights Guide

Public Defender Programs

A Day in the Life of Outstanding Public Interest Lawyers

United Nations Guide

II. Materials we use just for HLS Students

Insider's Guide to DOJ

Insider's Guide to Fellowships

Handbook of Public Service Resources for HLS Students

International Public Service Resources for HLS

2L/3L Contact list - lists 2Ls and 3Ls who volunteer to speak to other students about their public service experiences before and during law school.

Resource Center: We operate a vast library of books and directories of public interest and government employers around the world.

On-line resources: Online job postings, including summer internships; online Alumni Mentor Database; online summer evaluations from students who worked for public service employers over the summer; and online bibliography.

Administering supplemental funding sources: OPIA augments the main summer funding program by working with Alumni Associations to provide supplemental summer funding. OPIA also administers several fellowships designed as salary supplements for HLS 3Ls or recent graduates entering public service.

Employer sessions: OPIA hosts employer interviews and information sessions. OPIA works with the Massachusetts Consortium of Law Schools to send students to two annual Public Interest and Government Job Fairs. OPIA also organizes a Student-to-Student Job Fair through which students disseminate information about their summer public interest and government employers to other students.

HLS belongs to the MA Consortium of Law Schools, which comprises career services professionals from the seven accredited MA law schools: HLS, Northeastern, B.U., B.C., Suffolk, New England, and Western New England. Every year, the Consortium sponsors two Public Interest and Government interviewing career fairs. The first fair is held in October and is for 2Ls and 3Ls only. The second fair is in January and includes 1Ls.

In addition to the staff at OPIA, two full-time staff in the Student Financial Services office run the Summer Public Interest Funding Program and the Low Income Protection Plan and provide financial counseling for those considering public service work.

Loan Repayment Assistance Programs (LRAP)

For more information, see https://hls.harvard.edu/dept/sfs/lipp/ and contact:

Natasha Onken
Assistant Director for the Low Income Protection Plan & Summer Public Interest Funding
Student Financial Services
P: (617)-495-4606

Post-Graduate Fellowships/Awards

Law School Funded:

The following Post-Graduation Fellowships/Awards are all funded by the law school through designated gifts:

  • Kaufman Fellowships: provide supplemental funding to 3Ls and recent graduates entering public service. Four kinds of fellowships are offered: Two salary fellowships provide up to $40,000 each; two large supplemental grants of $10,000-$15,000 for those who are able to secure other funding; $1,000 supplemental grants for those making under $60,000 for help with bar and moving costs; and extra supplemental grants for those who need money for bar or moving costs or have other extraordinary circumstances.
  • Skirnick Fellowships: provides $6000 to $8000 to one or two 3Ls or recent graduates entering public service
  • Fine Fellowship: provides $1000 stipend to a 3L woman entering public service
  • Henigson Fellowships: provides $22,000 to a 3L or judicial clerk to support nine to twelve months of work with an NGO in a developing country
  • Heyman Fellowships: provides 20 honoraria to 3Ls or recent graduates entering federal government work. Ten of those 20 graduates are also selected, on the basis of financial need, to receive $20,000 of loan forgiveness in addition to the loan forgiveness provided by the Law School's Low Income Protection Plan
  • Sacks Clinical Law Fellowships: funds the salary of at least one recent graduate to work for one or two years in one of the HLS clinics
  • Bellow Awards: a consortium of student groups provides awards to one 3L and one alum (who has graduated within the last decade) who have shown a strong commitment to social justice.
  • Andrew L. Kaufman Pro Bono Service Award: provides $500 to graduating student who has performed the most hours of pro bono work

In addition, Equal Justice America sponsors a fellowship to provide $50,000 per year for two years to one or two HLS students/judicial clerks to work in direct advocacy on behalf of individual low-income clients

Graduate Student Funded:

None listed

Other Funding Sources:

The Beagle-NRDC Fellowship funds one 3L or judicial clerk each year to work for two years at one of the Natural Resources Defense Council offices.

The Henigson Human Rights Fellowships fund 3 HLS graduates each year to do grass roots human rights work in a developing country for nine months to a year.

There are postgraduate fellowships to support work in our clinical programs; at least one Sacks Fellowship is offered each year in one of the HLS clinics.

Finally, there is also a new fellowship to support work on global health and human rights.

For more information, see http://www.law.harvard.edu/academics/fellowships/index.php#public_interest

These fellows are mostly funded by special endowments from Harvard Law School graduates.

Term Time Fellowships/Scholarships

Law School Funded:

Funding is often available for our unique winter term clinical and writing projects for second and third year students. Students travel costs for the winter term are subsidized by the Office of Clinical Programs, the Human Rights Program, and the International Program. The Office of Clinical Programs has also provided travel funding for students providing pro bono service in the Gulf Coast.

Graduate Student Funded:

None listed

Other Funding Sources:

None listed

Summer Fellowships

Law School Funded:

Harvard Law School guarantees summer funding to all students who work in public interest jobs for at least 10 weeks over the summer. The Summer Public Interest Funding Program is administered by the Student Financial Services office using money allocated by the Dean, Federal Work Study funds, and money raised through the student run Public Interest Auction.

SPIF awarded funds to 363 students who worked in 31 states and 31 foreign countries over the summer of 2005. The awards included $943,695 in SPIF grants (which include funds allocated by the dean and $126,000 raised through the Public Interest Auction) as well as an additional $700,582 in Federal Work Study funds.

In addition to these sources of funding, there is also supplemental funding available through Harvard Law School for those students who qualify and apply. Over the summer of 2005 students received a total of $109,000 in supplemental funds.

Graduate Student Funded:

None listed

Other Funding Sources:

These funds are all used as a supplement to Summer Public Interest Funding; further information may be found at: https://hls.harvard.edu/dept/sfs/spif/

Chayes Fellowship - $50,400 (23 recipients in 2005)

Cleary, Gottleib, Steen & Hamilton Fellowship - $3,000 (1 recipient)

Dewey Ballantine- $6,600 (1 recipient)

Heyman Summer Internship - $17,500 (35 recipients in 2005)

Lewis Fellowship - $2,000 (4 recipients in 2005)

Sutin Fellowship - $1,300 (2 recipients in 2005)

Vorenberg Fellowship - $8,450 (13 recipients in 2005)

These funds are all used as a supplement to Summer Public Interest Funding; further information may be found at: https://hls.harvard.edu/dept/sfs/spif/

Alumni Fellowship - $4,500 awarded by various alumni groups (3 recipients in 2005)

Human Rights Fellowships - $15,250 awarded through the Human Rights program at Harvard Law School (16 recipients in 2005)

Extracurricular and Co-Curricular Programs

Human Rights Program 20th Anniversary Celebration- A weekend long celebration and conference that included prominent alumni active in the field of human rights, such as the head of Amnesty International, and academics.

A series of discussions with Professor Jon Hanson entitled "We've Got it All Wrong: A Year-Long Conversation Melding Social Psychology, Economics and Law." - This installment, "The Illusion of Choice," will seek to explore how policy is currently made, who it serves, and how we might - by reconceiving ourselves and re-imagining our laws - begin to better achieve the goals of freedom, justice and equality.

Tips for 1Ls from a Progressive Perspective - HLS Democrats, American Constitution Society, Civil-Rights Civil Liberties Law Review, Black Law Students Association. Come learn from the experiences of 2Ls and 3Ls as they provide tips on everything from preparing for class to getting involved in extra-curricular activities - from a progressive perspective.

An Interview with Mary Bonauto - Harvard Law School welcomes Mary Bonauto, 2004 Wasserstein Fellow, Civil Rights Project director at Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders, and attorney for Goodridge et al. v. Dept. of Public Health.

Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review 40th Anniversary Conference - "Join us March 18-19th for the CR-CL 40th Anniversary Conference, "Bridging the Gap: Construction of Rights and Liberties in the New Civil Rights Era."

Talk with David Crane, Prosecutor, Special Court for Sierra Leone - "Join us for a conversation with David Crane, Prosecutor for the Special Court for Sierra Leone.

Rasul, Padilla and Hamdi: The Evolving Jurisprudence of Terrorism - This is a panel discussion about the three major terrorism cases that the Supreme Court handled last term.

"Take Back the Courts" - Film and Panel - "Take Back the Courts" is a twenty-minute film that describes the human consequences of the rollback of civil rights by the federal courts.

The Roots and Legacies of the Nuremberg Trials International Justice. What does and could it mean to pursue justice internationally, especially in the wake of mass atrocities, wars and genocides?

Religion, Morality and Choice - Join HLS for Choice, the American Constitution Society and the Harvard Law School Democrats for an exciting discussion on "Religion, Morality and Choice: The Intersection of Values and Reproductive Rights."

Civil Liberties In the Current Climate - Anthony Romero, executive director of the ACLU will speak about "Civil Liberties In the Current Climate".

Is Accountability a Pre-Requisite to Sustainable Peace? - A discussion between Justice Richard Goldstone and Professor Michael Ignatieff. Moderated by Professor Martha Minow. This is the last event in a week-long series of events related to Darfur and the national launch of the Genocide Intervention Fund.

Panel on Domestic Violence in Immigrant Communities - Sponsor: StopDV Please join us for a panel on issues of domestic violence in immigrant communities. Panelists will discuss topics related to legal rights and strategies for helping survivors, assessing unique risk and lethality indicators, and changes in the aftermath of September 11th.

Transgender Law 101: Sex, Gender and the Law

Public Service Orientation - Designed to bring together entering 1L students with an interest in public interest, inspire them and provide them with an introduction to the extensive resources available at HLS to support public service. Features a prominent alumnus keynote, Dean Kagan, Professor David Barron and Alexa Shabecoff, Assistant Dean for Public Service. 2Ls and 3Ls attend as well to talk about the Auction and the Student Public Interest Network and to generally start the process of befriending 1Ls. Public service guides are distributed.

Public Interest potlucks - Sponsored by OPIA - designed to bring together public interest minded students. Generally at least two per year - one at Alexa Shabecoff's house and one at another HLS staffer's home or at the Legal Aid Bureau offices.

Student Public Interest Auction - Raises money for summer public interest funding but is also the premier social event of the year. Run by 1Ls, the planning starts in September and ends with an April silent and live auction. Dean Kagan has been one of the Auctioneers since she became Dean. Hundreds of students, faculty, staff and alumni attend and raise well over $100,000.

Public Service Alumni Reunion (March 2008)

Student Public Interest Groups

African Law Association (HALA)

Alliance for Independent Feminists (AIF)

American Constitution Society (ACS)

Asia Law Society (HALS)

Asian Pacific American Law Students Association (APALSA)

Big Brother Big Sister

Black Law Students Association (BLSA)

Child and Youth Advocates

Direct Action Against Poverty

Environmental Law Society

Forum on Local Govt. and Politics

Gender Justice Working Group

Harvard Federalist Society for Law and Public Policy


HLS Democrats

HLS KSG Association for Law and Policy

HLS Republicans

HLS Veterans Association

Immigration Project

Just Democracy

Kids in the Court

Labor and Employment Action Law Project (LEAP)


Latin American Law Society

Law Students for Choice

Middle Eastern Law Students Association (MELSA)

Multiracial Law Students Assn.

National Lawyers Guild

Native American Law Students Association (NALSA)

Project on Wrongful Convictions

Recording Artists Project

South Asian Law Students Assn.


Student Animal Legal Defense Fund (SALDF)

Student Public Interest Network (SPIN)

Tax Help Club

Women's Law Association (WLA)

August 6, 2018