Field Placement Program
With more than 3,500 externship placements since the creation of the Field Placement Program in 1975, the program has become a central part of students' skills training at the College of Law. Externships allow students to gain valuable career experience while making important professional contacts. Course credit is offered in exchange for placements with various government agencies, members of the judiciary, non-profit organizations, and for-profit organizations that are otherwise uncompensated.
The Field Placement Program is available to upper level students who have completed 28 or more credit hours and who are in good academic standing with at least a 2.0 G.P.A. Full-time students earn 28 credit hours after the completion of their 1L year.
Students can complete externships spring, summer, and fall. Students can register for up to three semesters of externship credit if one of their participation semesters is in the summer. Otherwise, students are limited to two semesters of participation.
The specific requirements student-externs must fulfill in order to receive academic credit are set out in the Course Handbook, available below. The following is an abbreviated summary of the field placement program requirements. Students must:
- Attend a mandatory, orientation meeting.
- Complete either 120 hours of fieldwork for 2 class credits or 180 hours of fieldwork for 3 class credits.
- Turn in two progress reports.
- Meet with a faculty mentor (who is assigned to each student-extern after registration) at least twice.
- Turn in a final report and log of hours at the conclusion of the externship.
Information on available, approved placements can be found across from the Field Placement Program Office or by talking to the Field Placement Program Coordinator. Most placements are also posted on Symplicity. Unlisted placements must be approved on a case-by-case basis. Students apply on their own to their desired agency, as they would in order to obtain regular employment.
After students have been hired, they must turn in a resume and a letter of intent to the Field Placement Program Coordinator, in order to get registered for the Field Placement course and receive class credit. Rising 2L's should also turn in an unofficial transcript. The Course Handbook provides guidance on how to do so. Please note that applications must be received at least two days before the last day to add a class for the semester. Once a student's application has been received, the Field Placement Program Coordinator will tell the student if they have been approved for the course. If a student is approved, the Coordinator will confirm that student has room in his or her class schedule for the Field Placement course and will then turn in a permission slip to get the student registered. Registration will then show up automatically on the student's Campus Connect website.
Information for Employers
We are always excited to expand our pool of placements and advertise new opportunities to our students. It is very important that the externship experience is educational and that our student-externs receive valuable supervision. The program requires that students are supervised by a licensed attorney (preferably with 5+ years of experience). It is also important that the placement is compliant with the Fair Labor Standards Act.
The employer signs an Affiliation Agreement at the beginning of the semester detailing the student's duties, signs off on the first two student progress reports, and fills out an Evaluation form of the student's work at the end of the semester.
Before we post a new placement, we ask the potential placement to fill-out the Questionnaire below and return it to the Field Placement Program Coordinator to see if the opportunity will work for our students. We then put together a posting to advertise to our students. Typically, we leave externship postings up year round on Symplicity, our electronic job database, but if an employer prefers, we can post based on demand instead. With new placements, we generally only allow one student extern to be placed during the first semester of participation.
Special Requirements in For-Profit Placements
Before approving a for-profit placement (a placement with a private law firm or in-house counsel with a corporation) the Field Placement Program Coordinator or Director will speak with the supervising attorney to ensure they can provide substantive legal work, adequate supervision, and a mentoring relationship.
Additionally, a private law firm must:
- Have at least three full-time, licensed attorneys in good standing with malpractice insurance.
- Not bill for the student's work or for the supervising attorney's time spent mentoring the student. (Students are allowed to work on pro bono, flat fee and contingency fee matters.)
- Work for compensation at any time during the semester term of the externship.
- Obtain or use a 711 license in for-profit placements.
- Use student LexisNexis or Westlaw accounts for externship research.
The Field Placement Program Director, Coordinator, or Faculty Mentor may contact the law office or corporation during the course of the semester.
For more information, please contact Natalie Taylor, the Field Placement Program Coordinator, in the Field Placement Program Office - Room 320 Lewis Center. Natalie can also be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 312.362.8312.