To get a sense of the work of “real lawyers,” their daily experiences preparing cases, interviewing and relating to clients in a myriad of ways, trying cases, settling cases, etc., students may enroll in placements in a public or private law office, or in an office that conducts various forms of alternative dispute resolution. In addition to attending seminar-type classes, students work in their office under the supervision of a practicing attorney or other appropriate expert, gaining practical skills in a real-world setting. For the 3-credit option, students must spend at least 130 hours during the semester at the office; for the 4-credit option, the hourly requirement is 170. Students prepare journal entries reflecting their experiences. In class, students discuss these experiences and focus on various ethical issues they encounter in practice. Class discussions may also include setting up a law office and the theory and practice of legal skills such as interviewing, counseling, negotiating, mediating, etc.
Additional requirements for placements with the judiciary include submission of a writing sample and sometimes also letters of recommendations. In these placements, in addition to participating in the Field Placement class, students observe a judge in chambers, conduct research, and discuss various aspects of the Judge’s cases and other issues concerning the judiciary. The Professor communicates regularly with the judge about the student’s progress. The Placement concludes with a formal evaluation meeting between the judge and the student. Judges also conduct written evaluations of the student’s work. Students taking FPP for a second semester attend some classes, write journal entries, meet individually with their professor, and write and present a final paper. For students working in either non-profit organization or governmental offices requiring them to appear before the court of the Commonwealth, Supreme Judicial Court Rule 3:03 approval is available. Please see your professor to coordinate the application.
Coordinated Field Placement Program
A student not presently enrolled in a Clinic or Field Placement Program may experience the life of a law office that concentrates in a particular doctrinal area by volunteering on average 5 hours per week during the semester (70 hours per semester) for the 1-credit option, for the 2-credit option, the hourly requirement is an average of 10 hours per week during the semester (140 hours per semester) with a lawyer who practices in a substantive area covered in a course in which the student is enrolled. The doctrinal professor and student meet during the semester at least three times to discuss issues of law arising in the placement. Students will submit to their professor journal entries in advance of each meeting, and weekly time logs. Professors will speak with the Supervising Attorney at least twice during the course of the semester regarding student progress. This option is appropriate for students who have already taken the Field Placement Program, one of the Legal Clinics, or who are unable to take clinics but would like to acquire real-life law office experience while still in law school. There is no limit to the number of times a student may enroll in this credit option, nor is there an enrollment limit, but participation is contingent on the availability of both an appropriate placement and agreement of the course professor. Due to the limited time spent in the law office, this “co-op” is not approved for Supreme Judicial Court Rule 3:03.