Information for Current Students

Externships and Judicial Clerkships - Policies and Procedures

Adopted by the Faculty on March 27, 2008 and revised December 23, 2015.

I. Introduction

Externships and judicial clerkships provide law students with a unique opportunity to engage in law-related work in courts, public agencies, legislative offices, and not-for-profit organizations. Students are expected to fulfill the on-the-job and any academic requirements of their externship and judicial clerkship placement with a high degree of independence, integrity, competence, and professionalism. Faculty members are expected to communicate regularly with the student and with the field supervisor and to evaluate the student’s academic achievement as well as the overall quality of the educational experience offered by the particular placement. Field supervisors, who may be either attorneys or judges, are expected to monitor the student’s work over the course of the placement, communicate regularly with the supervising faculty member, and participate with the faculty member in evaluating the student’s academic achievement.

Externships and judicial clerkships have been offered at the Law School for many years, under a variety of designations: Field Placements, Public Service Externships, Judicial Clerkships, or Practicum. The policies and procedures described herein are intended to replace the “Field Placements – Policies”, which were adopted by the Law School Academic Policy and Program committee (APPC) in February 2003. These revised policies and procedures provide guidance for the faculty member in charge generally of externships and judicial clerkships, and for those faculty members who want to arrange and supervise specific externships and judicial clerkships individually for students. Externships and judicial clerkships can be incorporated into existing course offerings or into new courses created and listed to accommodate fieldwork experience for students

II. Educational Objectives

The purpose of offering an externship or judicial clerkship for academic credit is to give students experience in work that lawyers and judges do. The key to a successful placement is the training, guidance and evaluation provided by the attorneys and judges who act as field supervisors and the faculty members who arrange and monitor the placements. In the field, law students will have the opportunity to develop many analytical and communication skills that are often best learned in practice settings, such as legal research and writing, interviewing, counseling, and case management. In some cases, under a student practice rule, they will be able to appear in court on behalf of clients. By observing legal professionals in their day-to-day practices, law students can begin to relate the theories and doctrines they have learned in class to different legal institutions and processes. Students will have an opportunity to reflect on ethical dilemmas, workplace conflicts, and the limits of legal solutions to real-life problems. By assessing their own strengths and weaknesses as they progress through their externship or judicial clerkship experience, students can develop insights into their own “fit” for particular types of law practice after graduation. In addition, because all of the externship and judicial clerkship placements are in an area of legal practice that serves the public interest, students can begin to develop an appreciation of the opportunities and rewards of a life-long professional commitment to pro bono legal work, regardless of their eventual career choices.

Because of the varieties of work settings and projects that might make appropriate externships and judicial clerkships, it is not possible to establish standard criteria for student work. At a minimum, however, over the course of a semester, students should complete one significant or several short pieces of written work or legal or policy analysis. In addition, students will be expected to provide weekly reports on their work. Students also have an obligation to attend meetings, classes, or tutorial sessions arranged by supervising faculty members. The field supervisor is expected to assign work to the student, meet with the student at least once a week, and be available to guide the student. In addition, the field supervisor should assist the faculty supervisor in evaluating the student’s performance by filing an evaluation.

III. General Rules

A. Eligibility and Prerequisites

1. Students may not enroll in an externship or clerkship before completion of at least one academic year of study in the J.D. program. They may not enroll in a judicial clerkship before completing at least two years of the J.D. program.

2. In order to enroll in an externship or judicial clerkship, the student must obtain the prior written approval of the faculty supervisor or an Exception Registration Form (“force slip”) or comparable alternative.

B. Academic Credit, Hours of Field Work, and Compensation

1. Limit on externships: Students are permitted to enroll in no more than one externship for academic credit toward the J.D. degree.

2. Limit on judicial clerkships: Students are permitted to enroll in no more than one judicial clerkship for academic credit toward the J.D. degree.

3. Limit on credit hours: Most externships and judicial clerkships require a minimum of three (3) credit hours. As a “non-class offering,” externships are subject to the 12-credit limit on the total number of independent studies, non- class offerings, and courses taken outside the Law School that students can apply toward the J.D. (See the Law School’s General Academic Policies and Procedures, Section III.B(7)(b): “Independent studies and other non-class offerings, and courses taken outside UB Law School.”)

4. Semester limit on judicial clerkships and externships: Students may take only one externship course or one judicial clerkship in any one semester.

5. Minimum hours of field work: Students enrolled in externships and judicial clerkships must complete at least forty-five (45) hours of field work for each credit hour earned. Therefore, a three-credit externship will require a minimum of 135 hours of field work, including time spent meeting with the faculty supervisor, or writing journals or other assignments for the faculty supervisor.

6. Compensation: The Law School will not grant credit to a student for participation in an externship program for which the student receives compensation. This does not preclude reimbursement of incidental out-of- pocket expenses related to the externship.

C. Supervision, Evaluation, and Grading

1. All externships and judicial clerkships will be arranged between a faculty member who agrees to be the faculty supervisor and the attorney or judge who agrees to be the externship supervisor. Students are not permitted to arrange externships or judicial clerkships. However, for the summer semester only, students may seek out other externship or clerkship opportunities on their own, but in order to receive credit, the student must obtain the prior written approval of a faculty supervisor or an Exception Registration Form (“force slip”) or comparable alternative.

2. Once a student has commenced an externship or clerkship for credit, the faculty supervisor, the student, and the externship or clerkship supervisor must have established and regularized communication.

3. A student’s academic achievement in an externship or clerkship must be evaluated by the faculty member who has agreed to be the faculty supervisor.

4. The field placement supervisor is required to participate with the faculty member in the evaluation of the student’s academic achievement through the filing of an evaluation.

5. The faculty supervisor will review the externship or clerkship supervisor’s final report and, where necessary for evaluative or recordkeeping purposes, the student’s non-confidential work product, and assign a grade of Satisfactory (“S”) or Unsatisfactory (“U”). In special circumstances where the student’s performance in the externship was unsatisfactory for reasons outside the control of the student, the faculty supervisor may give the Registrar authorization for the student to withdraw from the course without credit, i.e., with an “R” grade.

6. The work in an externship or clerkship must be completed in the semester for which the student is registered. Extensions of externships will not be permitted. If the student is unable to complete the externship because of reasons outside the control of the student, the faculty supervisor may give the Registrar authorization for the student to withdraw from the course without credit, i.e., with an “R” grade.

D. On-Site Visits

Periodic on-site visits by a faculty member of each externship site should be arranged if possible.

E. Classroom or Tutorial Component

1. In all externships and clerkships, a contemporaneous classroom or tutorial component taught by a faculty member is preferred.

2. When the supervising faculty member does not arrange for a classroom or tutorial component to be contemporaneous with the placement, the faculty member shall establish an educationally adequate alternative.

F. Reports by Field Supervisors

1. Each field supervisor will be required to file with the faculty supervisor an evaluation of the students’ work. The faculty supervisor will be responsible for advising the student’s field supervisor of the reporting obligation and deadlines.

2. The field supervisor’s final report will include:

(a) a critique of any work product completed by the student (on a copy of the work and/or in a written commentary); and

(b) a written evaluation of the strengths and weaknesses of the student’s work.

3. Copies of all reports prepared and filed by the field supervisor will be provided to the student.

G. Student Reports

According to a schedule determined by the faculty supervisor, the student will file with the faculty supervisor periodic reports on the work accomplished in the externship.

H. Termination of an Externship or Clerkship

1. Students who do not meet all the requirements of the externship or clerkship, as determined by the faculty supervisor and with the advice of the externship supervisor, will not be permitted to continue in the externship or clerkship.

2. The faculty supervisor will review the interim reports of the student and communicate with the field supervisor and may terminate the externship or clerkship if:

(a) the student is not meeting his or her obligations to the outside court, agency, or organization;

(b) the student fails to file his or her required report(s) on time, or otherwise fulfill the requirements established by the faculty supervisor; or

(c) the field supervisor is not involving the student in work that develops professional lawyering skills.

3. In the event of termination by the faculty supervisor of a student’s externship or clerkship prior to the end of the semester, the faculty supervisor will assign a grade in accordance with Part III.C above.

I. Evaluation of Externships and Clerkships

1. At the end of each semester, all students enrolled in externships and clerkships will be provided with forms to evaluate their supervisors, faculty supervisors, and their overall experience in the externship or clerkship. These evaluations will be provided to the faculty supervisors and to the Vice Dean for Academic Affairs.

2. In accordance with relevant ABA standards and with established procedures for review of curriculum, the Vice Dean for Academic Affairs will monitor and periodically arrange for evaluation of the externship program.

J. Revision or Waiver

In drafting these “Externships and Judicial Clerkships Policies and Procedures,” the APPC has intended to conform to the relevant ABA Standards. It is anticipated that, from time to time, the APPC or the faculty may revise these policies and procedures and that exceptional circumstances may arise that warrant a waiver of these rules by appropriate action of the faculty, the APPC, or the Vice Dean for Academic Affairs. In the event that these policies and procedures should be revised in the future, or in the event of any faculty or administrative waiver of these rules, it is the intent of the faculty that any such revision or waiver of these rules should be consistent with the minimum requirements of the then current ABA Standards.