Harvard Law School 1Ls and 2Ls should now be aware that clinical registration for the 2014-15 academic year takes place this week, starting at 9:00 am on Wednesday April 3rd and ending at 5:00 pm on Thursday, April 4th. The results of clinical registration will be made available to students by next Monday, April 7th, at 5:00 pm.
We in the Cyberlaw Clinic have enjoyed sharing information with interested students during our recent “Clinic Talks!” lunchtime session and at least week’s Clinical Fair and Cyberlaw Clinic Happy Hour. In all of those meetings, we fielded inquiries about the Clinic and the enrollment process. In the interest of making sure everyone has access to as much information as possible about the Clinic and the process, we wanted to post answers to some of the more frequently asked questions.
What is the Cyberlaw Clinic? What does it do?
The Cyberlaw Clinic website is probably the best place to find answers to this question, as the site offers a fairly comprehensive overview of our practice areas, examples of representative clients, sample work product (including filings and publications), our supervising attorneys, and a regularly-updated blog. The short answer is that the Clinic represents mission-oriented organizations and individuals in connection with legal issues that arise out of their development or use of technology. Sometimes this means counseling small startups. Other times, it means filing briefs on behalf of larger advocacy organizations or collaborating with government officials regarding technology and policy. Much of our practice involves concerns about intellectual property, privacy, and digital civil liberties, but we work hard to serve a wide range of clients on a wide range of issues.
What is the Cyberlaw Clinic student experience like?
To put it simply, Cyberlaw Clinic students are front and center in the Clinic. The Clinic’s students own their projects, have direct client contact, and manage their workloads and the flow of work among colleagues and supervisors. Of course, the Clinic’s supervising attorneys are intimately involved with each and every project. But, we strive to ensure that the supervision and oversight role is collaborative, iterative, and productive. A Clinic student should never get a redlined markup of a document (whether it’s a memo or a brief or a contract) with an expectation that the student will simply implement the supervisor’s changes and send it to the client. On the contrary — at every stage of the Clinic’s practice (from high-level strategy to client intake to scoping of projects to specific wording of documents to communications and public outreach), students are on the front lines and are the driving forces behind the Clinic’s work.
(For what it’s worth, we had some Clinic alums join us at last week’s Fair and Happy Hour; if you’d like to hear directly from one of our previous students, please contact us and let us know. We can surely put you in touch with somebody to give you the student perspective directly.)
How big a time commitment is the Cyberlaw Clinic?
Students enroll in the Clinic for 2, 3, or 4 credits, working for 120, 180, or 240 hours over the course of the term. That averages out to 10, 15, or 20 hours per week. Student workloads vary week-to-week, project-to-project, but the Clinic tries to be realistic about expectations from students in terms of hours and ensure that the number of credits for which a student is enrolled corresponds with the number of hours that student works.
Apart from time spent doing Clinic work, students in the Clinic next fall or spring semester will be required to simultaneously enroll in a 2-credit seminar at HLS. That seminar will involve substantive education about the Clinic’s areas of practice as well as skills-training and will incorporate student case rounds presentations about ongoing projects.
Do I need a technical background to enroll?
Absolutely not! We do a very broad range of work in the Cyberlaw Clinic, and the diversity of our practice is reflected in the diversity of students who work with us every semester. If you have a scientific or technical background, the Clinic may try to leverage it (assuming you would like to have it leveraged!). If you do not, no worries — the supervisors will get you up to speed on what you need to know in order to handle a project and do it well.
Are there any pre-requisites?
No! As noted above, fall/spring students must simultaneously take the Cyberlaw Clinic seminar while enrolled in the Clinic. And, we have some projects for which having taken a particular course (e.g., Copyright) could be beneficial. But, we have plenty of work to go around for students having all levels of experience with the substantive legal issues at the heart of our practice, and there are no pre-requisite classes.
Okay, I’m sold! Now, how do I register?
Clinic preferencing will open on 9:00 am on Wednesday and run through 5:00 pm Thursday. Students should log in to Helios (where they see their schedules, etc.) to submit their clinical preferencing bids, identifying and ranking the clinics in which they’re most interested. Each semester of a clinic is considered a separate preference.
For the Cyberlaw Clinic, a student will be able to preference the Clinic during fall or spring terms. Students also have the option when preferencing to select 2, 3, or 4 clinical credits. Students who are enrolled in the fall or spring semesters of the Clinic will automatically be enrolled in the required 2-credit clinical seminar for that semester.
The HLS Office of the Registrar put together a web page on using Helios that can be helpful for those who have never experienced the actual process.
(Note that during the 2015 winter term next January, the Clinic plans to admit a small number of students who previously enrolled in the Clinic. Clinic registration for winter term will take place through an application process next fall.)
As always, do not hesitate to reach out to any of the Cyberlaw Clinic’s supervising attorneys with additional questions or concerns. We are doing some very exciting, cutting-edge, and just plain fun work at the Clinic and really hope that you will consider joining us next year!