Students in the Individual Field Placement course set their own paths to gain practical experience that fits their aspirations. The course (formerly the Individual Externship Program) offers students who have completed their first year of study an opportunity for experiential learning tailored to their own interests and their educational and career goals. Students perform volunteer legal work for a field placement sponsor -- a legal organization or practice. They work with an experienced attorney who acts as the site supervisor, providing work projects and observational opportunities designed to develop the students’ lawyering skills, professional identity, and understanding of legal practice and process. Field placement sponsors encompass a wide variety of legal practices, including non-profit legal services, advocacy and public policy organizations; government offices and agencies; private law firms; corporate in-house legal departments; prosecutors’ and criminal defenders’ offices; federal and state judicial chambers; and adjudication divisions of administrative agencies.
In addition to engaging in and observing lawyering activities at the field placement site, students are required to reflect on their fieldwork experience in a faculty-guided setting. Students communicate regularly and share written reflections on their field placement experiences through individual tutorials with a faculty member of the students’ choosing, acting as a faculty supervisor, or through the Individual Field Placement Seminar. Students seeking to satisfy the practice-based learning requirement with the Individual Field Placement course must enroll for at least three credits (requiring 168 hours of fieldwork) and concurrently enroll in the one-credit Individual Field Placement Seminar.
Students seeking an individual field placement should consult with the field placement program director about opportunities that meet their educational interests and/or professional goals. Students may also seek potential field placements among the volunteer legal opportunities posted on Symplicity. Students seeking to develop a new field placement opportunity must have the placement approved by the field placement director before enrollment. To enroll in an individual field placement, students must complete the placement approval form (located under the Forms tab above), have the form signed by the site supervisor and faculty supervisor, and deliver the form to the Field Placement Program Director by the deadline set out in the academic calendar.
Representatives of legal practices seeking to become field placement sponsoring organizations should contact the field placement program director. Prior to the approval of any field placement, the director must confirm that the sponsor is able to offer the student a substantial lawyering experience, with multiple opportunities to observe and perform professional skills, under the direct supervision of a site supervisor with the time, resources, and institutional support to provide guidance, feedback, and evaluation.
As part of the placement approval process, all participants in a UConn School of Law field placement course must certify that they have read and understood the Field Placement Program Statement of Course Expectations. This statement sets out the roles and responsibilities of students, site supervisors, and faculty supervisors in assuring a high-level educational experience for the student, and is mandated by ABA Standards governing field placement programs.
For more information about the program, please consult the Answers to Frequently Asked Questions about Individual Field Placements. Questions may be directed to the field placement program director, Professor Jennifer Mailly or by phone at 860-570-5216.
This Statement of Course Expectations articulates the general roles and responsibilities of participants in the UConn Law School Field Placement Program (“Program”), consistent with the ABA Standards for Approval of Law Schools.* Participants must execute a separate Placement Approval Form incorporating the terms of this Statement of Course Expectations.
1. Supervision: The Site Supervisor will supervise the Student’s experience with a view to ensuring that the Student has a substantial lawyering experience that is reasonably similar to the experience of a lawyer in the field placement sponsoring organization, as set forth in further detail in subsection 3 below.
2. Work Schedule and Office Space: The Site Supervisor will ensure that the Student has a designated workplace at the sponsoring organization and access to office resources and support reasonably necessary to complete assignments. The Site Supervisor will confer with the Student to establish a work schedule that ensures the Student is present in the office to observe and participate in projects and activities that will enhance the Student’s educational experience and provide insight into the nature of the sponsoring organization’s legal practice.
3. Substantial Lawyering Experiences: The Site Supervisor will endeavor to ensure that the Student has the opportunity to perform, to the maximum extent possible, substantial lawyering tasks that are both useful to the sponsoring organization and educational for the Student; that the Student has opportunities to observe lawyers and/or other professional staff in their daily activities; that the Student receives feedback on the Student’s performance (including the professionalism of their comportment and/or work product); and that the Student has opportunities to discuss the Student’s observations and experiences with sponsoring organization staff.
4. Individualized Learning Goals: When required by the field placement course in which the Student is enrolled, the Site Supervisor will meet and confer with the Student early in the semester to agree upon realistic learning goals. To the extent feasible, consistent with the needs of the sponsoring organization, the Site Supervisor will select and prioritize assignments and other experiences designed to help the Student achieve the agreed upon learning goals.
5. Assessment Meetings and Evaluation: The Site Supervisor will meet with the Student at the mid-term and end-of-term to discuss the Student’s performance and, when required by the field placement course in which the Student is enrolled, will complete a final written evaluation of the Student’s performance at the semester’s end.
1. Selection of Field Placement Sponsoring Organization and Site Supervisor: Except in the case of Individual Field Placements, the Faculty Supervisor will select, and assign the Student to, an appropriate field placement sponsoring organization and Site Supervisor. (For Individual Field Placements, the Student selects the field placement sponsoring organization in consultation with, and subject to the approval of, the Law School’s Field Placement Program Director.)
2. Reflection: Through a concurrent seminar and/or individual tutorials, the Faculty Supervisor will ensure that the Student engages in ongoing, contemporaneous faculty-guided reflection throughout the term. The Faculty Supervisor will engage the Student in reflection on such topics as the organizational structure and operational dynamic of the organization in which the Student is working; the legal/policy/political context in which that organization operates; the professional and ethical norms that guide the practice of professionals in this realm; career opportunities that are or may be open to the Student in that area; and the Student’s own professional goals and values.
3. Communication with Site Supervisor and Student: The Faculty Supervisor will maintain regular contact, including site visits where appropriate, with the Site Supervisor and Student to ensure the quality of the Student’s educational experience.
4. Availability: The Faculty Supervisor will be available as a resource to the Site Supervisor and Student should any concerns or issues regarding the field placement arise.
5. Evaluation: The Faculty Supervisor will evaluate the Student’s academic performance and, except in the case of Individual Field Placements, award the Student a grade. (In the case of Individual Field Placements, the Faculty Supervisor will recommend a grade to the Field Placement Program Director.) The Faculty Supervisor’s assessment will be based on some or all of the following: (a) the Student’s academic performance in the course seminar or individual tutorial; (b) consultation with the Site Supervisor; (c) written evaluations of the Student’s performance in the field placement provided by the Site Supervisor and Student; and (d) the Student’s compliance with the reflection, reporting, and record-keeping requirements of the field placement course in which Student is enrolled.
1. No Compensation: The Student will comply with the UConn Law School policy prohibiting the receipt of compensation for work performed in connection with a credit-bearing field placement course. Reimbursement of the Student’s reasonable out-of-pocket expenses is permitted, but must be reported to the Field Placement Program Director.
2. Work Schedule: The Student will confer with the Site Supervisor at the outset of the course to establish a work schedule that ensures the Student is present in the office to observe and participate in substantial lawyering experiences. The Student will ensure that the work schedule reflects the number of hours of weekly field work required by the field placement course in which Student is enrolled.
3. Individualized Learning Goals: When required by the field placement course in which the Student is enrolled, the Student will confer with the Site Supervisor early in the semester to develop realistic and mutually agreed upon learning goals and identify assignments and other experiences designed to help the Student achieve the learning goals.
4. Professionalism and Confidentiality: In all matters connected with the field placement, the Student will act with professionalism, civility, integrity, and in accordance with the Rules of Professional Conduct. The Student will invite guidance and feedback on professionalism and work ethic, as well as on performance of legal projects. In preparing reflections, journals and reports, and in engaging in class discussion and meetings with the Faculty Supervisor, the Student will comply with confidentiality obligations and will raise with the Site Supervisor any questions or concerns about confidentiality.
5. Reflection: The Student will reflect on observations and experiences at the field placement and explore such topics as the organizational structure and operational dynamic of the organization in which the Student is working; the legal/policy/political context in which that organization operates; the professional and ethical norms that guide the practice of professionals in this realm; career opportunities that are or may be open to the Student in that area; and the Student’s own professional goals and values.
6. Academic and Field Placement Record-keeping Requirements: The Student will complete and submit in a timely manner all time logs, reflections, journals, evaluations, and any other reporting and record-keeping requirements of the field placement course in which the Student is enrolled.
7. Self-Evaluation: The Student will engage in self-assessment throughout the field placement course and, where appropriate, discuss self-assessment with the Site Supervisor and Faculty Supervisor. At the end of the semester, the Student will complete a written evaluation of the Student’s field placement performance and experience, using a form provided by the law school for this purpose.
All participants in the UConn Law School Field Placement Program shall comply with the University of Connecticut Policy Against Discrimination, Harassment and Related Interpersonal Violence, which requires that students, including those engaged in field placement programs, are afforded an educational environment free from discrimination, harassment, and inappropriate romantic relationships.
* ABA Standards and Rules of Procedure for Approval of Law Schools 2016-2017, Standard 303(c)(iii).
(Effective August 2017)
Below are some frequently asked questions about individual field placements.
What is an individual field placement? »
Are there any limitations on enrollment in an individual field placement? »
What is the difference between an individual field placement and the other field placement courses? »
Why should a student enroll in an individual field placement? »
Does an individual field placement satisfy the Practice-Based Learning Requirement? »
How does a student find a suitable field placement? »
What is the enrollment process for individual field placements? »
What are the deadlines for enrollment in an individual field placement? »
How do students find a faculty supervisor? »
What is the site supervisor’s role? »
What is the faculty supervisor’s role? »
What reporting requirements do students have during the field placement? »
How many credits can be earned for an individual field placement? »
How are individual field placements graded? »
How do students receive credit for an individual field placement? »
May 1L students enroll in an individual field placement course? »
Are there special requirements for students on F-1 or J-1 visa status? »
An individual field placement is a credit-bearing experiential learning opportunity that is created by the student and tailored to a student’s own interests and his or her educational and career goals. A student performs volunteer legal work at a legal organization or practice (called a “field placement sponsoring organization” or “sponsor”) under the supervision of an attorney (the “site supervisor”) who provides work projects and observational opportunities designed to develop the student’s lawyering skills and to enhance the student’s understanding of the legal profession. In addition to working at the field placement, the student is required to communicate with and provide written reflections to a faculty member of his or her choosing (the “faculty supervisor”) throughout the term.
Yes. First-year students may not enroll in the individual field placement course during the fall and spring semesters of their first year of law school. 1L students who have completed the fall and spring semester classes may enroll in an individual field placement beginning in the June Term, even if they are also taking Moot Court during this term.
Students may not earn more than a total of eight (8) credits from any combination of individual field placement courses and special research projects (SRPs). Students may not enroll in an individual field placement for more than three (3) credits during the fall or spring terms or four (4) credits during the summer term.
Enrollment in a clinic and an individual field placement during the same academic term is generally inappropriate. Students seeking such dual enrollment must obtain written permission from the clinic supervisor, the field placement site supervisor, and the Field Placement Program Director prior to enrollment.
An individual field placement generally provides greater freedom to students in choosing a placement sponsor, as most of the other field placement courses focus on specific areas of law or practice venues. The individual field placement course has no required classroom component (unless the student is seeking to satisfy the Practice-Based Learning Requirement, which is addressed below). Instead, students meet with and provide written journals to faculty supervisors on a periodic basis established by the Policy on Individual Externships. In other field placement courses, students perform work at a field placement, but are also required to attend a regularly scheduled class associated with the field placement, and for which additional credit may be awarded. Enrollment in other field placement courses takes place through the regular course selection process. In contrast, students enroll in the individual field placement course via the process described below.
A field placement provides students with the opportunity to enhance their knowledge of substantive law and lawyering skills through hands-on experiences, and to apply what they have learned in the law school classroom to real world legal problems. Individual field placements allow students to gain experience in a particular area of law or practice setting of interest to them, discover their strengths and preferences within the legal profession, address areas in which they might need additional training, and consider the professional, ethical and moral implications of the practice of law.
Enrollment in the individual field placement course will satisfy the Practice-Based Learning Requirement only if the fieldwork is for at least three credits (requiring at least 168 hours of work) and the student concurrently enrolls in the Individual Field Placement Seminar. Students must enroll in the Individual Field Placement Seminar through the regular course selection process. Students do not have to have secured a field placement at the time that they enroll in the seminar. Seminar enrollment triggers a meeting with the Field Placement Program Director to assist the student to secure a suitable placement.
Students interested in enrolling in an individual field placement course should first determine their goals. They should ask themselves: What kind of experience do I want to obtain? What areas of law or practice settings would I like to explore? What lawyering skills would I like to develop or hone? Am I looking to build on experiences that I already have, or try something completely different? How closely do I want my externship experience to mirror the kind of career I hope to have?
Students should then look for experiences that will fulfill their goals. There are several ways to do this.
- Meet with the Field Placement Program Director. The Field Placement Program Director can help students identify and create opportunities that will further their goals. The Director can suggest possibilities that students may not have considered, or help students find an opportunity that they may not have known existed. The Director can also advise students about other students’ experiences with particular field placements.
- Review the postings on Symplicity. Approved field placement opportunities are posted on Symplicity. Some positions listed on Symplicity as “unpaid internships” may also be appropriate field placements. Students should check with the Field Placement Program Director if they find a posting that they want to pursue as a field placement.
- Research other possible field placement options. Students may talk to friends, colleagues and faculty members about the kind of work they would like to do. They may do research on the internet or in the Career Planning Center to find out what legal organizations in the area would offer the kind of experience they are looking for. If a student reaches out to a potential placement, the student must ensure that he or she will be supervised by an attorney who will provide the student opportunities for observation and performance of lawyering projects and activities, give guidance and feedback, and provide a workspace for him or her on the premises of the placement. Once a student has identified a potential placement, he or she must notify the Field Placement Program Director and provide contact information for the responsible attorney at the desired placement. The Director will contact the proposed site supervisor to explain the supervision requirements of the field placement program, and ensure that the supervisor understands and is willing to comply. All new field placements must be approved in advance by the Field Placement Program Director.
To enroll in an individual field placement, a student must submit the Individual Field Placement Approval Form. The form seeks information about the field placement sponsor, the site and faculty supervisors, and the opportunities the student will have to observe and perform lawyering activities at the site or in connection with fieldwork. The approval form must be signed by the student, site supervisor, and faculty supervisor. Signing the form indicates approval of the student’s placement and certification of having read and understood the Field Placement Program Statement of Course Expectations. This Statement sets out the roles and responsibilities of students, site supervisors, and faculty supervisors in assuring a high-level educational experience for students in field placement programs, and is mandated by ABA Standards governing such programs.
In the fall and spring semesters, the Individual Field Placement Approval Form approval form is due by the end of the first week of class of the term in which the fieldwork is being done. A late form may be accepted for good cause shown; however, credit for work done prior to the submission of the completed approval form may not be counted towards the required hours. The approval form should be submitted to the Field Placement Program Director as soon as possible after a placement is secured. An incomplete or unsigned form will not be forwarded to the Registrar for enrollment.
Summer term enrollment is flexible. Students may begin field placements at the opening of the June Term, or later in June, or even July. Again, however, students must submit the approval form prior to beginning work at their field placement, or they risk not having their work hours count toward field placement course credits.
The individual field placement course requires that every student have a faculty supervisor who is a member of the full-time faculty. The faculty supervisor must approve the student’s application to enroll in the field placement.
Most students ask faculty members with whom they are most familiar, either from a class, activity or organization. Faculty supervisors do not have to have expertise in the area of law in which the fieldwork will be done. However, some students will choose faculty members who do specialize in legal issues students expect to encounter in the field placement. Those faculty members may be in a position to offer subject matter insight and guidance. There are also some faculty members who are associated with certain field placement experiences. This is particularly true in areas like Tax, IP and Insurance. The Field Placement Program Director can advise students if there are faculty members that tend to oversee field placements at certain sponsoring organizations or involving certain areas of law.
The site supervisor is responsible for providing the student with varied, interesting and challenging work, incorporating the student into the day-to-day operations of the field placement, offering opportunities to observe and participate in legal activities, and giving the student guidance on work assignments and constructive feedback throughout the course of the work experience. In the individual field placement course, the site supervisor is also responsible for completing a final evaluation of the student’s work performance. The Field Placement Program Statement of Course Expectations further describes the site supervisor’s role and responsibilities in assuring the educational quality of the student’s field placement experience.
The faculty supervisor is responsible to ensuring that the student engages in reflection, analysis and self-evaluation. Where the student is not enrolled in the Individual Field Placement Seminar, the faculty supervisor meets periodically with the student throughout the term of the field placement, and reviews and discusses with the student the reflective journal that the student maintains. The faculty supervisor is also responsible for completing a final evaluation of the student’s learning experience. The Field Placement Program Statement of Course Expectations further describes the faculty supervisor’s role and responsibilities in assuring the educational quality of the student’s field placement experience.
Students must keep a log of the dates and hours when they are engaged in fieldwork. The log should include a brief description of the students’ activities during the time reported. Students must be mindful of their ethical obligation not to disclose confidential client information. Each week, students must upload their work log onto a TWEN site maintained for this purpose. The Individual Field Placement course TWEN site has the required work log template and instructions about completing and submitting logs. No credit will be given for hours that are not reflected on work logs uploaded to the TWEN site.
For students not enrolled in the Individual Field Placement Seminar, there is a requirement to maintain a reflective journal. By faculty policy, journal entries must be submitted to the Field Placement Program Director and faculty supervisor at least four times at regular intervals during the semester or term of the field placement. The dates by which the students should submit each journal entry and the frequency of the journal submissions are to be agreed upon by the faculty supervisor and the student. Some faculty supervisors may ask the student to submit a page of journal entries per week, while others may ask for journals every two to three weeks, or by specific dates in the semester. In all, students should expect to write about 12-14 pages of journal entries during the field placement. The purpose of the journal is not to recount the student’s projects or experiences at the field placement. That information should be contained in the student’s weekly work log. Rather, the journal asks the student to reflect on what the student is learning in the placement – about the law, the practice setting in which the student is working, the legal profession, or him or herself. Topics for journal entries may be suggested by the faculty supervisor or selected by the student. A non-exhaustive list of possible journaling topics is posted on the Individual Field Placement course TWEN site.
Students enrolled in the Individual Field Placement Seminar have journaling requirements that are set by the seminar instructor and may differ from those described above.
A student may earn up to 3 credits for an individual field placement during the fall or spring terms. During the summer term, students may earn up to 4 credits. Although there are some field placement opportunities limited enough in scope to warrant only 1 credit, most students enroll in field placements for 2, 3 or (in the summer) 4 credits. A credit is earned for every 56 hours of fieldwork performed. Therefore, for 3 credits, a student must work 168 hours over the term. For a 14-week academic term, this equals 12 hours per week.
The actual schedule of hours is set by the student and the site supervisor, and the weekly hours may vary based on the student’s work assignments and the opportunity to observe or participate in activities at the worksite. While students may complete the required amount of work in one long day, students are strongly encouraged to spend at least two part days at their worksite. This enables them to become more integrated into the office structure and allow for more time for observation of all types of legal proceedings and meetings. Students may work more than the required hours needed to earn the credits sought; if they work fewer hours, however, credits will be reduced.
The course is graded pass/fail. Students are allowed a total of 12 pass/fail credits toward their JD degree. Also, for planning purposes, note that students cannot earn more than 8 credits total for individual field placement courses and SRPs combined.
The Individual Field Placement Seminar, required for students seeking to use the field placement to satisfy the Practice-Based Learning Requirement, is graded and does not count toward the limitations on pass/fail credits or individual field placement courses and SRPs.
At the completion of the fieldwork, the student must submit three completed evaluations to the Field Placement Program Director. For efficiency, the following process is recommended: The student should ask the site supervisor to complete an evaluation as soon as the fieldwork is completed. Once the site supervisor has completed the evaluation, the student should bring that evaluation, and the student’s own evaluation, to the faculty supervisor. The faculty supervisor will review the two evaluations, complete the faculty evaluation, and forward to the Field Placement Program Director with a recommendation that the student receive (or not receive) credit for the field placement course. Based on the faculty recommendation, and confirmation that the student’s logs submitted on TWEN reflect that the student has completed the requisite hours of work for the credits sought, the Field Placement Program Director will approve the award of the credits, and notify the Registrar to record the credits on the student’s transcript.
1L students, whether enrolled in the day or evening division, may not enroll in an individual field placement course during the fall or spring semesters of their first year of law school. 1L students who have completed the fall and spring semester classes may enroll in an individual field placement course beginning in the June Term, even if they are also taking Moot Court during this term.
Yes. Although a field placement course is not employment, students on F-1 or J-1 visa status must obtain proper work authorization prior to enrolling in a field placement course. Students on F-1 visa status must obtain CPT (Curricular Practical Training) certification; students on J-1 visa status must obtain Academic Training certification. The University of Connecticut’s Department of International Student & Scholar Services (ISSS) handles the applications for certification. The application forms and a description of the application process may be found here. and students are encouraged to contact ISSS directly as soon as they begin seeking field placement opportunities. Obtaining work authorization may take several weeks. Students are therefore advised to apply for CPT or Academic Training certification at least two weeks prior to the date on which they plan to start their fieldwork in order to ensure that they obtain certification in time to begin as planned. Note that students on F-1 visas who will take longer than two semesters to complete their degree program must wait until after the second semester to enroll in a field placement course.
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