Founded in 1817, Harvard Law School is the oldest law school in the US. The Law School was established through a donation from the estate of Isaac Royall, a wealthy slaveholder, plantation owner, and immigrant from Antigua to Boston. Royall’s coat-of-arms (three stacked wheat sheaves) was the crest of the law school from 1936 until 2016.
Harvard Law School, in 1585 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, Massachusetts, ranks No. 3 in the 2021 Best Law Schools (ranked in 2020).
Harvard Law School Location
The Harvard Law School is located within the Harvard University Campus. Harvard University is located in Cambridge, Massachusetts. In the center of Cambridge are Harvard Square, a lively place with bookstores, restaurants, bars, and a variety of specialty shops.
Harvard University houses the American Repertory Theater, renowned for world-class theater productions recognized by the prestigious Tony Awards and Pulitzer Prize.
As one of the largest and most renowned law schools in the world, Harvard Law School, accepts about 550 new law students each year. The law school boasts of having a diverse faculty of 400 professors.
For over 200 years, Harvard Law School has been educating lawyers and has produced a long list of notable alumni.
Graduates of Harvard Law School
To be a graduate of Harvard Law School means to be within the ranks of President Barack Obama, former First Lady Michelle Obama, Chief Justice John Roberts, Justices Anthony McLeod Kennedy, Stephen Breyer, Elena Kagan, Neil Gorsuch, over 20 other Justices of the Supreme Court and leading politicians such as Ted Cruz, and Mitt Romney as well as many business leaders.
The Austin Hall, designed by architect H.H. Richardson and completed in 1884, was the first building in Harvard University built especially for Harvard Law School.
The Langdell Hall was built in 1905 when Austin Hall was getting too small for the Law School. Today the Langdell Hall houses the Harvard Law School Library.
Harvard Law School Library
This is the most extensive academic law library in the world with over 2 million volumes of books, and a wide range of databases and electronic journals. The library is open 24/7 to Harvard Law School students during the academic year.
The Wasserstein Hall at the Caspersen Student Center houses several legal clinics, state-of-the-art classrooms, and student practice organization offices.
• Free wireless network (campus-wide)
• Hemenway Gym
• Several fitness and recreation facilities within the Law School campus
• Study areas and outdoor plazas
• Dining Hall
• Restaurants, bars, and shops
Harvard Law School can be reached by subway from Boston. Law students can choose to live on-campus or in numerous housing facilities with the Law School’s close vicinity.
Harvard Law School provides housing options for its students:
On-Campus Housing (dormitories for single occupancy and is available by lottery)
Harvard University-owned Apartments (for single, married, and with families)
Privately owned apartments in Cambridge and environs
Harvard Law School Learning Environment
Harvard Law Schools has about 550 new law students each year, thus having larger class sizes. Classes are divided into smaller classes of about 80 students per group to allow more faculty-student interaction.
First-year law students are further divided into readings groups consisting of 10-12 students headed by a faculty leader com advisor.
Harvard Law School offers 400 courses, and most of them have less than 25 enrollees. The Law School also has over 75 seminars where small groups of students can work with faculty members.
Each law student is allowed to enroll in any class, including optional programs in their specific fields of interest, including Law and Business, Law and Government, Law, Science and Technology, International Comparative Law, Criminal Justice, Law and History, and Law and Social Change.
Law students can also cross-enroll in some classes at Harvard University’s prestigious schools such as the Harvard Kennedy School of Government and the Harvard Business School.
Harvard Law School has a unique grading system that gears away from traditional letter grades. Law students instead earn a distinction of “honors,” “high pass,” “pass,” and “low pass,” or “fail.” Class rankings are never published. The grading system aims to encourage cooperation between students.
Harvard Law School Academic Program
Harvard Law Schools Degree Programs include:
Juris Doctorate (JD) – a three-year program leading to an initial law degree.
Master of Law (LL.M) – a one-year advanced Degree program for students who have already completed their J.D. Degree.
Doctor of Judicial Science (SJD) – the most advanced law degree for those who want to have a career in legal academics and pursue independent research, study, and writing.
Harvard Law School is an elite learning institution known for its challenging academic curriculum.
First-year law student classes are divided into seven groups, each with about 80 students and receiving instructions in traditional classes. The first-year curriculum includes courses in constitutional Law, Civil Procedure, Criminal Law, Contracts, property, torts, and legislation and regulation.
First-year law students also participate in legal research and writing classes and experimental education seminars that focus on self-reflection and practical skills. They also have the choice of any elective course.
Second and Third-year law students can choose one from the seven pathways that combine practical and theoretical knowledge in their final two years at Harvard Law School. This will allow law students to focus on their chosen area of law specialization.
Third-year students advised to attend high-level seminars and participate in writing projects. Both activities can help them deal with challenging and complicated legal issues.
Second and third-year law students are also encouraged to join legal clinics supervised by practicing lawyers. Through legal clinics, students can receive practical training in about 30 areas of law specialization in private and public sector environments. As a graduation requirement, students are also required to complete at least 50 hours of pro bono work.
Students of Harvard Law School may also opt to have a joint degree. While completing their JD degree, students can simultaneously enroll with the different schools of Harvard University:
• Harvard School of Public Health for a JD and MPH
• Harvard Business School for a JD and MBA
• Harvard Kennedy School of Government for a J.D. / MPP or MPA/J.D.
• Harvard Graduate School of Design for a J.D. / MUP
• Cambridge University Faculty of Law for a (J.D. / LL.M
Eligibility for a joint degree requires admission to both programs.
Second, Third year and LL.M students of Harvard Las School students are required to participate in at least one legal clinic supervised by practicing lawyers. Participation in legal clinics is not only a graduation requirement but also gives law students hands-on experience. Law students also need to satisfy at least 50 hours of pro bono work.
• Student Organizations and Services
Harvard Law School has over 100 on-campus student activities, groups, and organizations to allow students to connect and share their interests to expand their horizons or simply just have fun.
Daily activities range from panels, workshops, and conferences to athletics, concerts, and networking events.
• Career Development
Almost 90% of Harvard Law School graduates with a law license get employed within ten months after graduating, and over half of them got employed by large law firms (with over 500 lawyers).
Harvard Law School’s Career Services Department has a team of recruitment professionals, advisors, and counselors offer counseling services for students who connect employers and students, focusing mostly on nonprofits, the private sector, and public international organizations. The Office of Academic Career Advising and Graduate Program offers advice for students who want to have academic careers.
How to get accepted to Harvard Law School
Harvard Law School is one of the most elite law schools in the US, thus only remarkable students are accepted. Only about 11% of applicants are accepted to the Law School, and 92% of graduates get employed immediately after graduation.
Harvard Law School does not require any specific pre-legal education. The Admission Committee looks for thorough learning based on the interests of the student, including but not limited to the fields of economics, history, philosophy, government, mathematics, literature, science, and many others. The Admission Committee prefers pre-law degrees that are on the theoretical level with educational breadth rather than on degrees that emphasize the practical.
Aspiring law school students get accepted to the Law School based on the nature of their college work and academic performance. High grades, though, are not the only qualification to get admitted to Harvard Law School. An applicant also needs to have an impressive record in extracurricular activities and other achievements.
Admission to Harvard Law School is based on the Admission Committee’s experienced judgment and is made on a case-to-case basis. The information submitted by each applicant is thoroughly reviewed.
The applicant’s GPA and LSAT scores do not alone summarize everything the Admissions Committee needs to know about an applicant. These numbers are often a poor indicator to accept or decline an applicant to Harvard Law School.
However, the Class of 2021 of Harvard Law had a GPA of between 3.8 and 3.9, and LSAT scores of between 170 and 175. If you have these numbers, Harvard Law School may be a good option.
Approximately 1,750 Juris Doctor, 180 Masters in Law, and 60 SJD students attend Harvard Law School each year. Most students have between 170 -175 LSAT scores and a GPA of between 3.79 and 3.96. About 60% of law students opt to live off-campus. Each class has about 560 students, 50% of whom are women.
Harvard Law School boasts of having the most well-respected and esteemed faculty members.
The Law School also prides itself on having the world’s most extensive academic library.
Additionally, the Law School counts notable personalities in the public and private sectors as part of their over 39,000 living alumni.
Harvard Law School has much to offer every aspiring lawyer.