The Harvard Law Entrepreneurship Project (HLEP) provides pro bono legal research and analysis to entrepreneurs in the Harvard and MIT community. We match entrepreneurs with teams of Harvard Law School students and an attorney supervisor who work together to answer legal questions over the project cycle of eight to ten weeks. Legal questions can cover a broad range of substantive subjects depending on the startup or nonprofit’s needs, and participating entrepreneurs will receive a report summarizing the team’s findings.
Please note: we are not able to provide international law advice or transactional services such as contract drafting, incorporation, or patent prosecution (although we can provide research assistance and advice on related legal issues). For help executing specific transactions, please consider the Harvard Transactional Law Clinics. Applicants must have a current affiliation with Harvard or MIT.
The Fall 2023 Client Application is now closed. The Spring 2024 Client Application will be available in January 2024. Please check this website then for instructions on how to apply to be a client and more information on the Spring 2024 project cycle timeline. In the meantime, you can provide your contact information here, and we will email you when the Spring 2024 client application is live. We look forward to working with you!
The HLEP executive team is comprised of startup, innovation, and technology enthusiasts, some of whom are former and current entrepreneurs. Learn about our passion for HLEP and how we serve the organization below. Law students interested in joining the board are invited to contact us to find out more about our roles.
The Harvard Law Entrepreneurship Project provides pro bono legal research and analysis to entrepreneurs at Harvard and MIT. Participating entrepreneurs will receive a report summarizing the team’s findings.
Legal questions can cover a broad range of substantive subjects depending on the startup’s needs, including the venture, the founders, university policies, or government regulation. Concerns about incorporation are very typical questions that HLEP students might address, along with questions about copyright, trademark, immigration, employment, and state regulation. The scope of the project often depends on the number of jurisdictions in which you want to conduct business.
We then match entrepreneurs with teams of several Harvard Law School students and an attorney advisor who work together to answer legal questions over the project cycle of six to eight weeks. The final report may outline, for example, the nuances of the question and the common legal approaches that are used in practice.
HLEP provides services to projects that are affiliated with students at Harvard and MIT. If you have a Harvard or MIT student as part of the founding or core team, that is sufficient to qualify. Our services are primarily for ventures that do not have sufficient funding to hire their own attorneys.
HLEP has an application, available twice per year, in which entrepreneurs can describe their venture and their legal questions. We then host a “pitch competition” to put your idea in front of interested law students and attorneys. The pitch is not mandatory, but helps members get a sense of your needs. Students and attorneys rank projects by interest, entrepreneurs are selected, and teams are assigned—a team usually consists of four or five law students along with one or two attorneys. The team holds an initial intake meeting to further discuss your legal questions, then the students research answers during the semester, usually over the course of 6–8 weeks. The work product is a written report and a final outplacement meeting at which the students and attorneys walk you through the answers to the questions raised.
Harvard Law School is committed to the full inclusion of students with disabilities in the life of the University. Students requesting accessibility resources or accommodations in any of HLS’s Clinical and Pro Bono Programs may work with Accessibility Services in the Dean of Students Office. If you are a student with a documented disability and you are requesting accommodations, please contact HLS Accessibility Services to discuss and register for accommodations.