Program on Law & State Government
Externship Course Description
Joel Nagel, '07 (PLSG intern); Gregory Kellam Scott, '77 (Director, Indiana Civil Rights Commission); supervising attorney Michael Healy.
Students will not be able to register for the Program on Law and State Government Externship Course or any particular externship placement available through that course on the first day of registration. Due to limited class size and the necessary process of matching individual students to their placements, registration is possible
- Educational Objectives
- Course Format
- Participant Responsibilities
- Evaluation of Student Performance
- Placement Descriptions
Success in reaching the educational objectives of the course and the externship depends on collaboration and communication between and among the externship student, the supervising attorney, and the faculty advisor throughout the externship semester.
The educational objectives of the Program on Law and State Government (PLSG) externship course include offering externship students the opportunity to:
- Learn about the practice of law within the state government setting;
- Use and test skills of legal research, legal writing, case analysis, and statutory construction in the context of a state government legal office;
- Participate in hearings, work on administrative appeals, and assist in rule and statute drafting under the supervision of an attorney;
- Communicate legal conclusions and recommendations of legal work to supervising attorneys and state policymakers;
- Observe how various state agencies carry out statutory mandates, create regulations, defend agency actions in administrative hearings, and comment to drafted legislation; experience how the ethical, policy, and legal issues of the governmental process entwine to affect Indiana’s government and the practice of law within that government; and,
- Develop their ability to learn from experience and to manage their own education.
Four components comprise the externship course and placement:
- a required number of hours at the externship placement or doing externship activities and related work (60 hours per credit hour sought; therefore, 180 hours per semester);
- at least six mandatory class meetings, including short research assignments, coordinated by the faculty advisor;
- at least two individual tutorial meetings between the student and the faculty advisor during the course of the semester;
- reflective learning assignments due during the course of the semester.
The three main participants in the externship course are: the PLSG student, the faculty advisor, and the supervising attorney. Success in reaching the educational objectives of the course depends on the main participants and the interrelationship between and among them. Outlined below are the course responsibilities of the participants.
- The PLSG student extern is responsible for:
- Spending one hundred and eighty (180) hours, sixty (60) hours per credit sought, during the semester in externship placement activities and related work. Externship placement activities and related work includes, e.g., being present at the assigned field placement, addressing the legal assignments from the supervising attorney, preparing for and attending the class meetings or individual meetings with the faculty supervisor, and completing reflective learning assignments. Two-thirds of the required 180 hours must be spent at the legal office of the assigned placement. For example, for the three credit externship course, the student would be responsible to spend twelve (12) hours a week doing externship work or activities; eight (8) of these must be spent in the field office, the other four (4) hours could be spent in the field office or at another location (e.g., law school library, law school computer center, a home office) as long as the time is spent doing externship activities and related work. Off-site externship work will be held to the same standards of accountability and quality as externship work performed at the externship placement site;
- Immediately identifying any potential conflicts of interest between the externship placement and other interests to supervising lawyer and faculty advisor and resolving the real or potential conflicts of interest as soon as practicable.
- Understanding that the externship work performed this semester is being done solely for the professional development and the academic credit offered through this externship course and that ABA standards prohibit law student externs from receiving any monetary compensation for externship work performed during the externship placement semester;
- Understanding the externship placement’s procedures for receiving and handling confidential information, including that confidential information may not be disclosed except as authorized by the supervising lawyer and that, under Indiana law, penalties may be enforced if he or she knowingly or intentionally discloses confidential information to any person not authorized to receive it;
- Sharing individual development plan (IDP) with faculty advisor and supervising lawyer in the first half of the externship semester;
- Completing the reflective learning assignments and other class assignments assigned by the faculty supervisor;
- Preparing for and participating in at least six (6) classroom meeting sessions scheduled to be held at the law school;
- Preparing for and attending two (2) individual or small group tutorial sessions with the faculty advisor during the course of the semester; and,
- Submitting accurate time logs accounting for the student’s time working at the externship placement and working on externship activities and related work to the faculty advisor at individual meetings with the faculty advisor and at the conclusion of the semester.
- Supervising Attorney is responsible for:
- Orienting the PLSG extern to the office before or during the first week of the externship semester, including a discussion of office procedures and, specifically, a discussion of office and/or department procedures for receiving and handling confidential information.
- Immediately communicating any actual or potential conflicts of interest that the student extern may have, develop, or discover with the externship placement with the supervising lawyer and faculty advisor;
- Working with the externship student to establish and implement a work plan in accordance with the extern’s individual development plan (IDP) and that is in alignment with the externship site’s mission and needs;
- Providing skills training opportunities to the extern by assigning legal projects to the student, reviewing the student’s legal work, and providing constructive feedback to the student extern;
- Providing a variety of challenging tasks that draw on the student extern’s legal skills throughout the course of the placement;
- Meeting regularly with the student extern to discuss matters pertinent to the student’s work and the student’s understanding of the legal process;
- Giving specific feedback to the student extern during the course of the placement; and,
- Allowing student, when feasible, to participate in, and not merely observe, legal or strategic decision-making processes;
- Notifying faculty advisor in a timely manner regarding any problems or concerns about the student extern or his or her work at the externship placement;
- Understanding that ABA standards prohibit law students from receiving compensation during an externship for academic credit and ensuring that the student extern is not paid for externship work;
- Conducting a brief assessment of the student extern’s performance at mid-semester and communicating the assessment via phone conversation or voice mail to the faculty advisor; and,
- Evaluating the student’s performance and work product in writing at the end of the externship semester, reviewing the written evaluation with the student extern, and making the written evaluation available to the student extern for final submission to the faculty advisor.
- Faculty Advisor is responsible for:
- Overall coordination and administration of the externship placement course, including the development, monitoring, and maintenance of the agreement between the law school, the student, and the externship placement;
- Coordinating the class component of the course;
- Maintaining communication between the Program, the law student, and the supervising attorney;
- Reviewing students’ time logs;
- Conducting at least two individual or small group tutorials with each student during the course of the semester;
- Assigning, reviewing, and assessing the class meeting assignments, the externship time logs, and the reflective learning assignments; and,
- Assessing externship students’ course work for a grade for one credit of the placement course (based on the quality of the assigned reflective learning assignments, quality, accuracy, and professionalism of the assigned time logs, and the externship students’ participation in the class and individual meetings) and assessing whether the student earned a passing or failing grade on the experiential learning credits (based on doing satisfactory work at the placement and meeting or failing to meet minimum the number of hours required to be spent at the field office and doing externship placement activities and related work).
- Pass/Fail portion of grade – 2 credits. A grade of S (satisfactory) or F (failing) will be awarded by the faculty advisor based on whether the student satisfied all of the requirements of the externship course, taking into account whether the student met and properly accounted for the number of hours required to be spent at the field office and doing externship course activities and related work, submitted completed and signed supervising attorney’s evaluation of the extern, and the supervising attorney’s substantive evaluation of the student’s externship work.
- Letter grade portion of grade – 1 credit. Students will receive a letter grade for one credit of the externship course. This letter grade will be based on the quality of the class assignments and reflective learning assignments, the professionalism, quality, and accuracy of the required externship time logs, the student’s participation during the mandatory class meetings, and the student’s discussions in individual meetings with the faculty advisor.
For information about individual externships, see the placement descriptions.