The PLAP Experience

The Harvard Prison Legal Assistance Project (PLAP) provides direct legal services to incarcerated people in Massachusetts. PLAP student attorneys argue in disciplinary hearings on behalf of individuals charged with violating prison regulations, advocate for clients before the Massachusetts Parole Board, and assist with a range of legal matters affecting incarcerated people.

For students, PLAP provides an excellent opportunity to develop litigation skills including discovery, investigation, and cross-examination as soon as your first semester of law school. Every student attorney receives training and guidance from our supervising attorney and upper-level students.

PLAP is also a community of individuals within the law school committed to lessening the steep costs of arrest and incarceration. Through office hours, trainings, discussions with speakers, and social events, students interested in this topic come together through PLAP.  Our policy work, impact litigation, and direct advocacy allow law students to contribute to the critical work of advocating for incarcerated individuals while gaining an invaluable experience in working with clients and arguing in hearings.

Each member is encouraged to take on at least one case and is expected to work one hour in the office each week. During weekly office hours, students answer phone calls and letters from inmates, conduct basic legal research, and refer inmates to appropriate legal services. PLAP members may also choose to join committees working on communications, impact litigation, policy, community outreach, speakers and symposiums, language and accessibility, and training.

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.


PLAP membership is open to all new and returning Harvard Law School students. New members sign up in the fall and attend training, and new PLAPpers are always supported by our two supervising attorneys, returning students, and our administrative director. Join PLAP this fall!

Summer Hiring

PLAP hires summer student attorneys to directly represent clients in prison disciplinary, parole, and classification hearings, and students from all law schools are invited to apply. Apply to be a summer 2019 PLAP student attorney.