Field Placement Programs enable students to gain practical experience in real-world settings, such as law offices, governmental agencies, or ADR (alternative dispute resolution) programs. The workplace experience is then examined and reflected upon in a class seminar setting that encourages students to analyze the skills and values necessary to the practice of law. Sometimes class meetings are devoted to specific exploration of what it takes to put a particular legal skill into practice, such as those required for interviewing and counseling clients and in successful negotiations. Placements are generally made for three or four credits, which require 12 or 16 hours of work each week in the law office.
Supplemental field placement
Students, who are enrolled in doctrinal courses but not in a clinic or field placement program, may volunteer at least five hours each week with a lawyer who practices in the substantive area covered during the course. The law professor will meet with the participating students on alternate weeks during the semester to discuss issues of law arising in their placements. This option is appropriate for students who have already taken the Field Placement Program, Immigration Clinic, or Legal Clinic, or who do not have the time for those classes but still want to acquire some real-life law office experience while in law school. There is no limit to the number of times a student may enroll in a one-credit clerkship. There is no enrollment limit, but this option is contingent on the availability of both an appropriate placement and the course professor.
International intensive field placement program: International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia
This program offers a unique opportunity both to observe and to participate in significant international human rights work at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY), located in the Hague, Netherlands. Typical work includes investigating pending cases and drafting documents in settings that are principal focal points for the current development of international criminal law. Students work with members of the Office of the Prosecutor, Chambers, Registry or Defense for 40 hours per week. They also attend lectures that complement their work at the Court. An on-site supervisor provides work assignments, gives feedback on work product, and exposes them to various aspects of the practice of international law. A UMass Law professor adds remote supervision by communicating with the on-site supervisor as well as reviewing weekly students’ reflective journal entries. Students prepare an independent research paper of approximately 15 pages in length, which they present to the Hague supervisor and the UMass Law professor. They are evaluated on their written and oral performance in the Hague and on their final written project.