Job Summary

The Criminal Justice Institute (CJI) at Harvard Law School is a multidisciplinary public defender clinic that provides zealous, client-centered defense to indigent adults and juvenile clients facing misdemeanor and felony charges in Boston area criminal courts. The social work program works closely with student attorneys and clinical instructors while they complete case investigation, trial court work from arraignment to disposition, and interlocutory appellate representation in the Appeals Court and Supreme Judicial Court. The clinic also has an active amicus practice and represents clients in compassionate release proceedings, seeking release from prison for those with debilitating medical conditions.  The social work team supports the legal work of CJI’s student attorneys through case management, assessment, brief clinical interventions and mitigation advocacy.   

The Social Worker will work closely with clinical instructors, student attorneys, and, at times, social work graduate student interns on adult and juvenile cases in the trial courts to address social and legal needs of CJI clients.   

Position Description

As a Social Worker, you will: 

  • Work collaboratively with clinical instructors, student attorneys, and social work graduate interns on adult and juvenile cases in the trial courts to address social and legal needs of CJI clients.   
  • Coordinate appropriate social services for clients and conduct pre-trial release and re-entry planning.  
  • Provide brief focused clinical intervention and utilize a culturally informed intersectional perspective. 
  • Develop documentation including: needs and/or biopsychosocial assessments, progress letters, mitigation reports and diversionary plans to assist in the legal outcome. 
  • Advocate for client’s rights in other systems (DSS, DYS, DMH, DOC, etc.) and build relationships with communities, social service providers, government agencies, schools, etc. to obtain and provide intervention and rehabilitative services. 
  • Maintain the existing social services resource directory  
  • Participate in orientation and training of student attorneys and social work graduate interns. 
  • Have the opportunity to engage in clinical and macro social work components of CJI’s compassionate release practice, including release planning, advocacy and legislative change concerning access to medical care in prison, and working to reduce systemic barriers to compassionate release.   

Basic Qualifications

Master’s in Social Work required.  LCSW plus 5 years of relevant lived or work experience in the criminal legal field, or with individuals living with substance use disorders, mental health and/or experiencing homelessness. 

Additional Qualifications and Skills

We are looking for people who have: 

  • Experience and demonstrated ability working with people in the criminal and/or juvenile legal systems, and people experiencing poverty, homelessness, substance use, and mental illness. 
  • Experience with mitigation advocacy and forensic social work. 
  • Commitment to transformational change of the criminal legal system and working with communities oppressed by the system. 
  • Demonstrated commitment to diversity and social justice within the workplace, and a record of valuing all individuals and respecting differences with regards to race, ethnicity, age, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, religion, disability and socio-economic circumstances.   
  • Excellent communication and written skills, and flexibility in a fast-paced, demanding environment. 
  • Interest in training student attorneys and social work graduate interns. 
  • Experience collaborating and advocating in legal settings and with community agencies, as well as program development experience. 
  • Bilingual skills a plus. 
  • LISCW a plus, but not required. 

Work Format Details

This position is based in Cambridge, MA.

About Us

Be a part of excellence and leadership in legal education and scholarship at Harvard Law School. We are a community of talented people from diverse backgrounds, lived experiences, and perspectives, dedicated to advancing the cause of justice all over the world. We value our differences and our diversity as a source of strength. We are committed to developing and inspiring our students and our workforce. Whoever you are, whatever you do, however you do it, Harvard Law School is a place where you can thrive.


We invite you to visit Harvard's Total Rewards website ( to learn more about our outstanding benefits package, which may include:

  • Paid Time Off: 3-4 weeks of accrued vacation time per year (3 weeks for support staff and 4 weeks for administrative/professional staff), 12 accrued sick days per year, 12.5 holidays plus a Winter Recess in December/January, 3 personal days per year (prorated based on date of hire), and up to 12 weeks of paid leave for new parents who are primary care givers.
  • Health and Welfare: Comprehensive medical, dental, and vision benefits, disability and life insurance programs, along with voluntary benefits. Most coverage begins as of your start date.
  • Work/Life and Wellness: Child and elder/adult care resources including on campus childcare centers, Employee Assistance Program, and wellness programs related to stress management, nutrition, meditation, and more.
  • Retirement: University-funded retirement plan with contributions from 5% to 15% of eligible compensation, based on age and earnings with full vesting after 3 years of service.
  • Tuition Assistance Program: Competitive program including $40 per class at the Harvard Extension School and reduced tuition through other participating Harvard graduate schools.
  • Tuition Reimbursement: Program that provides 75% to 90% reimbursement up to $5,250 per calendar year for eligible courses taken at other accredited institutions.
  • Professional Development: Programs and classes at little or no cost, including through the Harvard Center for Workplace Development and LinkedIn Learning.
  • Commuting and Transportation: Various commuter options handled through the Parking Office, including discounted parking, half-priced public transportation passes and pre-tax transit passes, biking benefits, and more.
  • Harvard Facilities Access, Discounts and Perks: Access to Harvard athletic and fitness facilities, libraries, campus events, credit union, and more, as well as discounts to various types of services (legal, financial, etc.) and cultural and leisure activities throughout metro-Boston.
Job Contact
Alexis Waller