Dispute Systems Design Clinic

For a video of our 2021 info session on the DSD Clinic—in which clinic alums talk about the skills they harvested from working with real-world clients through the clinic and reflect on how their clinic experience helped them discern and inform their professional path and work in the world—click here.


Students in the Dispute Systems Design Clinic advise clients on how they can more effectively engage conflict within an organization. Students may assist an organization in conducting a conflict assessment, designing a dispute resolution system, assessing an ongoing set of dispute management processes, or resolving a current conflict or series of conflicts. Students will learn how to structure an assessment, conduct interviews, facilitate learning dialogue, run focus groups, make design recommendations, and present to clients. Past clients include federal and state agencies, nonprofits, religious organizations, transnational corporations, small start-up companies, professional sports teams, municipalities, local government officials, and universities.

Students in the clinic will have the chance to manage senior level client relationships and are asked to work through difficult concepts and problems directly with clients and their clinical supervisor. Students work in a team of 2 to 4 students, typically collaborating on single project for one client during the entire semester. By working for a single client, students have the unique chance to collaborate on a project from start to finish. Click here For a listing of all of our past clients. 

Students will meet weekly with their project supervisor. Additionally, they will meet with their client weekly or bi-weekly. They will also meet and work with their team members. All of these meetings count towards their weekly clinic hours. There are no proscribed clinic hours—students arrange these meetings according to their class schedules. In these ways, the Harvard Dispute Systems Design Clinic provides learning opportunities in many arenas that are challenging to come by in law school including: working on teams, client management, interviewing skills, and facilitating groups, skills graduates will use immediately and throughout their careers in a law firm, a non-profit, a corporation, and many other organizational settings.

Credits: The HDSD Clinic can be taken for between 3–5 credits. Each credit equals 4 clinic hours (3=12, 4=16, 5=20). Because our clients and their presenting questions are real and we expect students to be responsive to them, we strongly recommend registering for a minimum of 3 credits.

Required Class Component: The co-required course is Dispute Systems Design Seminar (2 classroom credits). The Clinic and seminar are bundled. Your enrollment in the clinic will automatically enroll you in the co-required seminar.

Add/Drop Deadline: The add/drop deadline for the Fall 2021 clinic is Friday, August 13, 2021. The add/drop deadline for the Spring 2022 clinic is December 3, 2021.

Additional Co-/Pre-Requisites: Negotiation Workshop is recommended, but not required.

LLM Students: LLM students may apply to the clinic through the LLM General Clinic Application.

Placement Site: HLS

Students who enroll in this clinic may count the credits towards the JD experiential learning requirement. Enrollment in this clinic may fulfill the HLS JD pro bono requirement depending on project assignment. Please contact the Office of Clinical and Pro Bono Programs ([email protected]) for more information.

F21 HLS Course Catalog Information

S22 HLS Course Catalog Information