Semester in D.C. students, alumni and faculty
Semester in DC

The ability to work on Medicaid in the months following the Supreme Court decision [NFIB v. Sibelius] taught me more than any classroom experience would have been able to. The attorneys I worked with were so open to helping me grow as a lawyer and advocate. It was really a wonderful experience.

Tamara Kramer ’13
National Health Law Program

I worked within the EPA [and] also collaborated with attorneys at the Department of Justice . . . My mentor had me shadow her through branch and department meetings . . . [and] organized weekly seminars for the interns to partake in and learn more about other aspects of the agency.

Silpa Rao ’13
Environmental Protection Agency

Each Spring, the Semester in DC Program offers you a unique opportunity to deepen your education, gain valuable contacts and legal experience, build your resume, and learn how our federal government works -- by externing full-time in a congressional office, federal agency or national non-profit organization in Washington, DC. 

In addition to externing, you will enroll in two evening seminars taught by Professor Richard Parker in tandem with top DC government lawyers and practitioners who bring years of experience working in or with government. These seminars give you the basic tools you need to succeed in the externship while bringing you into contact with leaders and staff at a wide range of organizations.  You’ll learn first-hand the challenges of government from those who are actually doing the governing.  And you’ll earn a full semester's academic credit along the way. 

Students who have participated in the program regularly report that it opened doors to jobs -- not only in government but in the private sector, where alumni report that employers value this experience and regularly ask about it in job interviews.

A couple of years ago we did a survey of program alumni about their experience in DC:

  • 92% of respondents report that the Program honed skills of direct use in their current job.
  • 88% report the Program was of resume value with employers in getting their job.  
  • 100% believed that their Semester in DC strengthened their legal and policy education compared to the alternative of taking an additional semester of class work in Hartford.

Beyond the statistics, here in their own words is a sample of what program participants reported about their experience in DC: 

The ability to work on Medicaid in the months following the Supreme Court decision [NFIB v. Sibelius] taught me more than any classroom experience would have been able to. The attorneys I worked with were so open to helping me grow as a lawyer and advocate. It was really a wonderful experience.

Tamara Kramer ’13
National Health Law Program

I worked within the EPA [and] also collaborated with attorneys at the Department of Justice . . . My mentor had me shadow her through branch and department meetings . . . [and] organized weekly seminars for the interns to partake in and learn more about other aspects of the agency.

Silpa Rao ’13
Environmental Protection Agency

I strongly believe that my time in DC helped prepare me for my current job and helped me get my last job, clerking for a judge.  The people I met there were fantastic references and the judge told me that it was part of the reason he chose me.  My supervisors at the Department of Energy gave me my first opportunity to do some real legal writing and research and I learned a lot from them and the experience  as a whole

[After completing the Semester in DC program] I’ve gotten interviews for positions I frankly wasn’t qualified for (usually asking 1-3 years of experience) and DC was specifically mentioned . . . The DC Program was nothing but a positive for my career prospects.

[B]oth the educational and practical experiences in DC have strengthened my ability to analyze policy, conduct legal research, negotiate with multiple and diverse parties, and engage in highly complex work. The Semester in DC program was a profound experience for me and continues to significantly impact my employment search. The value of such a program cannot be overstated.

The semester in DC provided the best practical legal experience that I received in law school. It also provided a tremendous background in administrative law that has been helpful on a day-to-day basis at my current position.  Although I did not procure my current position through the program . . .  my job is a direct result of the networking I did in D.C. during the program.

The Semester in DC program was one of my defining experiences at UConn law.  The program exposed me to DC, which solidified my plans to move there after law school to seek employment.  Though I did not get job with the agency I externed for during the program, the program opened doors by providing opportunities to network with prospective employers which led to my enrolling in the Presidential Management Fellows Program, through which I got my current job at the Department of State.

The DC Program offers externships tailored to a wide range of skill sets – litigation (at the Department of Justice), agency adjudication, legislation, lobbying, rulemaking.  And it offers those opportunities in a wide variety of subject areas -- energy, environment, transportation, securities, housing, health, education, labor, tax, trade, social security, welfare, immigration, foreign relations, and national security.   UConn Law has placed interns with many federal agencies, Hill offices and non-profits.

If you’re interested in learning more information or how to apply, contact Prof. Mailly at Jennifer.mailly@uconn.edu or Prof. Parker at Richard.parker@uconn.edu.  We have many contacts at agencies, on the Hill and in non-profits in DC, and we can help you find the right fit, optimize your application and help you get placed.

Contact Information

Contact the Semester in DC Program Director
richard.parker@uconn.edu
860-570-5231 

Contact the Field Placement Program Director
jennifer.mailly@uconn.edu
860-570-5216

Semester in D.C. Statement of Program Expectations

(Download this document as a PDF here.)

I. Introduction

This Statement of Program Expectations articulates the general roles and responsibilities of participants in the UConn Law School Semester in DC Program (“Program”), consistent with ABA Standards for Approval of Law Schools.*  Participants must execute a separate Field Placement Approval Form incorporating the terms of this Statement of Program Expectations.

II. Responsibilities of Site Supervisors

1. Supervision:  The Site Supervisor will supervise the Student’s experience with a view to ensuring that the Student has a substantive lawyering experience that is reasonably similar to the experience of a lawyer in the supervisor’s 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 field placement host 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 that the Student is present in the office to observe and participates in projects and activities that will enhance the Student’s educational experience and provide insight into the nature of the Field Placement Sponsor’s law or policy practice. 

3. Substantial Lawyering Experiences:  The Site Supervisor will endeavor to ensure that the Student has the opportunity to perform, to the maximum extent feasible, substantial lawyering tasks that are both useful to the host 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 timely and specific feedback on the Student’s performance (including the professionalism of their comportment and/or work product); and that the Student has opportunities to discuss his or her observations and experiences with field placement staff.

4. Individualized Learning Goals:  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 placement, the Site Supervisor will select and prioritize assignments and other experiences 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 will complete a final written evaluation of the Student’s performance at the semester’s end.

III. Responsibilities of Faculty Supervisor and Program Instructor

1. Reflection:  By teaching two concurrent seminars held in Washington, DC, the Program Instructor will ensure that the Student (a) has, or promptly gains, the basic knowledge of administrative law and legislative process needed to succeed in their placement; (b) acquires an understanding of the legal, policy and political context in which the Student and their placement organization is operating, and (c) is offered opportunities to reflect on their experience with the Program Instructor and with other students in the Program.

2. Communication with Site Supervisor and Student:  The Faculty Supervisor will maintain regular contact with the Site Supervisor, including through site visits where appropriate, and also will maintain regular contact with the Student to ensure the quality of the Student’s educational experience at the field placement.

3. Availability:  The Faculty Supervisor and Program Instructor will be available as resources to the Site Supervisor and Student should any concerns or issues regarding the field placement arise. 

4. Evaluation:  At the end of the semester, the Program Instructor will evaluate the Student’s academic performance in the evening seminars and award the Student a grade based upon their performance in those seminars. Meanwhile, the Site Supervisor will fill out and return to the law school their evaluation of the Student’s performance in their field placement, using the law school form provided for that purpose.  The Site Supervisor may elect, in their discretion, to share that written evaluation with the Student.  The Faculty Supervisor will then award the appropriate number of academic credits to the student based upon (a) the number of hours worked and properly documented by the Student in the placement, and (b) the Student’s satisfactory completion of other program requirements.

IV. Responsibilities of Students

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 program 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 Semester in DC Program.

3. Individualized Learning Goals: The Student will confer with the Site Supervisor early in the semester to develop realistic and mutually agreed 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 Program Instructor and Faculty Supervisor, the Student will comply with confidentiality obligations and will raise with the Site Supervisor any questions or concerns about confidentiality.

5. Reflection: On designated occasions, in keeping with course and program requirements, the Student will reflect upon and share with the Program Instructor and other students the Student’s observations and reflections upon their experiences at the field placement. These reflections may explore, for example, 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. Self-Evaluation: The Student will engage in self-assessment throughout the field placement experience, and, where appropriate, discuss their self-assessment with the Site Supervisor and Faculty Supervisor. At the end of the semester, the Student will complete a written evaluation of the field placement experience, using a form provided by the law school for that purpose.

7. Academic Requirements and Field Placement Record-keeping Requirements: The Student will complete the course requirements for both evening seminars in which the student is enrolled as part of the Semester in DC Program. The Student also will complete and submit in a timely manner a log of hours worked and a general description (subject to confidentiality rules) of the type of activity in which the student was engaged during those hours. Finally, the Student will fill out and submit at the end of the semester an evaluation of their field placement and classroom experience in the Semester in DC Program.

V. Compliance with University Non-Discrimination Policy

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 (policy.uconn.edu/2015/12/29/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 304(c)(iii).

(Effective August 2017)

This extraordinary program is available at only a handful of schools, yet the students who have participated in the program have found this program to be a life-changing educational experience, often the highlight of their law school career. Here’s what some of our students had to say about their experience in the program: 

Student Testimonials

This externship was a very meaningful experience. Although I had done some policy work in previous externships, the depth that I was able to dive into at Human Rights First was far beyond anything I had done before. My work focused on the three main areas that business and human rights focuses on: internet freedom, labor-worker’s rights, and private security contractors. I conducted policy research on companies and the U.S. government in anticipation of policies the organization supports. . . . This externship allowed me to refine my long-term career goals.

Allison Roso ’13
Human Rights First

This was the greatest position I have ever had the ability to secure. It was a life-changing experience for me. . . I conducted legal research, wrote memoranda, worked with stakeholders to build consensus, worked with legislative attorneys to help draft bills, and worked with congressional staff to research the legal and policy implications of legislative proposals. . . It was the hardest thing I ever did, from the application process to the actual work, but [it] provided me with a feeling that I could accomplish anything.

Don Bell ’13
Office of Senator Richard Blumenthal

This externship was probably the most meaningful and valuable experience I have had thus far in my professional and educational career . . . . Working at FinCEN, I had the opportunity to study first hand an area of law I am interested in, financial crimes, and prosecutorial work, and also continue my passion for public interest work. . . . The best part of this externship was that I made me realize exactly what I want to do with my law degree from the University of Connecticut School of Law. I absolutely want to pursue a career with FinCEN or at the very least with the federal government working on either financial crimes or with our various intelligence communities. Having the opportunity to work on drug trafficking, money laundering and terrorist financing cases was not only always interesting, but also made me feel like I was doing something incredibly valuable. . . . This was overall a perfect experience.

Michaela Ottenberg ’13
FinCEN, Treasury Department

The program has been a win-win experience for both students and agencies. Agencies benefit from the services of capable, dedicated and energetic law students working in concert with agency staff. Students learn how Washington works in the best possible way, by working in or with government, while deepening their knowledge of law and expanding their career horizons in the process. Below is a list of the agencies with which we have an ongoing relationship. The list expands each year.

  • Department of Education
  • Department of Energy
  • Department of Housing and Urban Development
  • Department of Justice
  • Department of State
  • Department of Transportation
  • Department of the Treasury
  • Environmental Protection Agency
  • Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
  • Human Rights First
  • Internal Revenue Service
  • National Health Law Program
  • National Labor Relations Board
  • Securities and Exchange Commission
  • U.S. Senate, Office of Senator Richard Blumenthal

Enrollment is open to current UConn students who are in their 2L or 3L year. Information sessions are held in the spring and early fall.  Students interested in participating in the Semester in DC Program are encouraged to contact Prof. Mailly at any time of the year.

For further questions or inquiries, please contact: Professor Jennifer Mailly by email or at 860-570-5216.
 

 

Field Placement Approval Form

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