The Harvard Law & International Development Society (“LIDS”) is the premier student-run organization at Harvard University focused on issues at the intersection of law, policy and international development.

LIDS was founded in light of the growing recognition that many pressing challenges in international development are legal in nature. For instance, rule of law development, regulatory reform, contract design, litigation of economic and social rights and land titling programs all require a deep understanding of both development practice and the law. We actively promote dialogue on these issues among our members, leading academics, and development practitioners.


Our generation faces persistent global inequalities, and we must devise creative solutions to address them. LIDS aims to train a new generation of lawyers, policy makers, and development practitioners to unlock innovative and multidisciplinary opportunities that will spur economic development to reduce these inequalities by:

  • Facilitating practical, hands-on non-litigation opportunities for students through semester-long projects with leading development organizations;
  • Fostering dialogue between practitioners and academia through our proposed white paper series and by inviting visionary lawyers and practitioners to campus;
  • Adopting a multidisciplinary approach that encompasses policy, economic and legal analysis;
  • Creating a cross-school social network that encourages out-the-box thinking;
  • Providing a space where students can practice management techniques, learn how to navigate complex bureaucracies, the private sector, in addition to grassroots movements.

Our Values

  • Impact: we strive to have a concrete effect in the international development sphere by facilitating projects for real-world clients who are doing important work at the intersection of law and development.
  • Critical thinking: we are a community of graduate students; as such, the ability to contextualize and think critically about a wide scope of issues related to law and development is a core part of our value system.
  • Collaboration: working with partners from different academic and practical backgrounds is an essential part LIDS’ identity. We currently have members from the Harvard Law School, Kennedy School of Government, School of Education, School of Public Health, as well as the Fletcher School of International Affairs.
  • Inclusiveness: we pride ourselves on implementing solutions from across the academic spectrum and working with organizations in all types of practice areas and from all across the world.
  • Communication: it is essential for LIDS to maintain effective communication with all of our stakeholders, including members, clients, and the administrations of the various schools at which we are active.
  • Excellence: LIDS puts the utmost effort into ensuring that every work-product we create is of the highest quality.
  • Justice: our conception of development includes the spread of justice, human rights and the rule of law for all people in the world, regardless of demographics or socio-economic status.
  • Integrity: LIDS is committed to acting with the highest degree of integrity, in particular while dealing with client priorities and potentially sensitive and/or privileged information.
  • Responsibility: we strive to follow the highest standards of professional responsibility, including confidentiality and zealous upholding of client interests.
  • Initiative: LIDS is the only operation of its type operating at Harvard. We are completely student-run, and we have developed our own model of projects and events.

Who We Are

LIDS actively welcomes graduate students at Harvard Law School, the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard Business School, the Harvard School of Public Health, the Harvard Graduate School of Education, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Fletcher School. We believe that bringing together students with diverse perspectives and backgrounds makes our community stronger and improves our ability to support our NGO partner organizations. If you are a student interested in these topics, we hope that you will consider joining our organization.

Getting Involved

For our members, we offer five main ways to get involved.

Speakers & Events
First, we organize informative speaker events about topics in law & development. These will include talks by academics and development-field practitioners. Topics will range from law and microfinance, to anti-corruption regimes, justice-sector reform. This semester, we are hosting or co-sponsoring a number of events on development topics.

Career Support
Second, we educate our members about opportunities for jobs in law and development, including: a summer internship workshop and a spring workshop focused on full-time recruiting.

Social Activities
Third, we have an active social calendar. The goal of these events is to bring together students from all different schools; we have several happy hours and community activities planned for the year. In addition, we organize informal ‘affinity groups,’ based on geographic area of interest (Asia, sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America, Eastern Europe/CIS, Middle East/North Africa). These provide opportunities for students to interact with people who share their region of focus. We have a number of upcoming social events.

International Development Projects
Fourth, our organization also offers exciting, hands-on opportunities to get involved in law & international development; each semester we offer a number of team projects which allow some of our members to work directly with leading NGOs on challenging issues. These projects provide an ongoing opportunity for LIDS members to provide analytical support to the partner NGOs, while building relationships and learning more about the field. These projects include semester-long assignment for 2-5 students to work with our NGO and IGO partners in Africa, Latin America and Asia.

Core Committees
Fifth, LIDS members are encouraged to join the numerous committees that support LIDS and make the organization even stronger. We currently operate four active committees: Events (responsible for inviting speakers and planning career activities), Projects (which helps screen, design and monitor International Projects), Social (responsible for setting up our numerous activities), and Collaborations (which looks for creative ways to work with alumni and others). These committees are great ways to get involved in the organization, gain experience, and work up to a leadership position with LIDS.