Students Gain Credit and Legal Experience in New York City

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Students Gain Credit and Legal Experience in New York City
March 5, 2019

Five UConn Law students are working and studying in New York this semester in a new, immersive program.

The Semester in New York City program helps students find full-time legal field placements in the city. In addition to working, students take two night classes taught by UConn Law Professor Leslie Levin and Adjunct Professor Rita Sethi. The law firm Morgan, Lewis & Bockius donated office space for classes.

The program is modeled on the successful Semester in D.C. program, which has been sending UConn Law students to work and study in the nation’s capital for the past 11 years. Many graduates of the D.C. program have gone on to work for their field placement employers.  Both programs are available in the spring semester to JD students of any class year and to many LLM students.

Two of the first five students participating in the program are working in private practice. Of the three others, one is working for the Environmental Defense Fund, another for the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, and the third with in-house counsel for the Allied World Insurance Corp.

The field placement is designed to give students who may be considering careers in New York City a hands-on, realistic semester.

“Their job is to see what it’s like to be a lawyer in New York City on an everyday basis,” said Professor Jennifer Mailly, director of UConn Law field placements. “They’re there to have a fully immersive New York practice experience and to see if they like it.”

The students are required to take Legal Practice, a required class for all students, and an externship reflection class. In Legal Practice, the students interview local attorneys about ethical challenges they have faced in their careers as lawyers.

Levin, who teaches Legal Practice, said the course material is often best understood through the lens of practical experience.

“It’s great that they can bring their work experiences to class for us to all talk about,” Levin said. “There’s a great synergy there.”

Now that the initial structure for the program is in place, Paul Chill, associate dean for clinical and experiential education and clinical professor of law, said he hopes to see more students participate.

“Programs like Semester in New York City are outstanding for not only strengthening a student’s lawyering skills, but also for helping that student decide what he or she wants to do beyond law school,” Chill said.