FLORIDA A&M UNIVERSITY COLLEGE OF LAW
FIELD PLACEMENT PROGRAM RULES
Field Placements offer students semester-long opportunities to leave the traditional classroom setting and assist lawyers and judges in the practice of law and the administration of justice. Field Placements enhance the substantive law curriculum through experiential, hands-on learning under the close supervision of a Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University College of Law faculty member. Students may receive from 3 to 6 credits during any semester, and no more than 9 field placement credits over the course of their law school enrollment.
Students in the program will work for judges, government agencies, public interest organizations, non-profit organizations, law firms and corporate legal offices, receiving valuable instruction to supplement what they learn in the classroom. Through Field Placements, students will develop the practical skills, poise and confidence necessary to be effective practitioners. Field Placements also will provide insight into professional responsibility and the operation of the legal system.
The College of Law maintains a master list of places that have expressed interest in hosting a field placement student. That list is continually updated and can be obtained from the Office of Legal Clinics and Field Placement Program. Students are responsible for applying directly to the place at which they wish to serve their field placement; the law school does not make selections or set the requirements of any particular field placement (except Judicial externships, which require at least a 3.0 cumulative grade point average)
II. FIELD PLACEMENT COMPONENTS
A Field Placement will consist of two contemporaneous components: a) the field component, and b) the academic component. The student’s work in the field must be supervised by a licensed attorney or an individual otherwise qualified to supervise (Site Supervisor); in either case the individual must be approved by the Field Placement Program Director. Field work assignments are intended to meet the objectives of the placement location.
The academic component will be satisfied by each student’s required attendance in an orientation at the start of the field placement and a once per week (14 weeks) 75 minute seminar. The law school is exploring online options for the weekly seminar but currently, the seminar will be taught at a time and place selected by the Field Placement Director. In addition, students engage in written reflection concerning the field experience. The written reflection shall be guided by a member of full-time faculty who agrees to supervise the student prior to commencement of the field placement. When appropriate, faculty members from other ABA accredited law schools may be used to supervise or assist in the supervision or review of the Field Placements. Additionally, the student will receive on-going instruction and guidance from a Faculty Supervisor, submit time logs, and produce journals or other work products for the Faculty Supervisor’s evaluation.
The purpose of keeping a journal during the Field Placement is to provide a reflective learning experience. Students will be expected to write about what they are learning about the law, lawyering skills, and themselves as a student and as a lawyer. Journals should include observations and reflections of the student’s field experience, the judicial system, and the student’s insights. A recitation of the week’s events will not be adequate. Serious reflection will give the student valuable insight into such things as the types of work that the student prefers (research, writing, talking to clients, in court); preferred working styles, long projects with few deadlines, or a fast-paced, multi-deadline environment; areas of substantive law that interest the student; ways in which the student interacts with people, both in the workplace and with fellow students. The Field Placement Director will provide examples of well-written journals during the initial seminar meeting.
Journal topics may include: student goals for the Field Placement and student progress toward meeting those goals; student thoughts or reflections about issues the student is working on; issues such as professional responsibility; what it means to be a lawyer in the context of the work the student is doing; substantive law that the student is addressing, including specific comments about what the student is learning, including research-related entries. Note: Timely completion of work is a critical component of being a good lawyer. In this class, the student’s journal and time sheets will be considered components of their lawyer’s work.
Each student will be responsible for maintaining records showing completion of all requirements of the field placement, including the number of hours performed.
III. REGISTRATION AND CREDIT HOURS
Students register for field placement using the following procedure:
- Students shall locate a field placement site and contact the appropriate extern coordinator or hiring official. Each field placement site will have its own application process and students must fully comply with those requirements. Students may obtain a list of approved sites from the Field Placement Director, but students are not limited to those sites.
- Students complete a FAMU Field Placement Registration Form, available from the Registrar’s Office or Registrar’s webpage. The duties to be performed under the field placement must be exclusively related to the substantive law curriculum and should not include tasks normally completed by administrative assistants (typing, filing, making copies, etc.).
- Each student must request supervision from a full time faculty member. If the Field Placement site is located in a city located more than 50 miles from Orlando, the student may, with the approval of the Field Placement Director, seek supervision from a full time faculty member at another ABA Accredited law school. The faculty supervisor must sign the Field Placement Registration Form, signifying his or her agreement to supervise the student’s field placement performance.
- The student must obtain the signature of the Site Supervisor, who must be an attorney licensed to practice in the jurisdiction in which the field placement is to completed. The Site Supervisor’s signature signifies the supervisor’s consent to work with the faculty supervisor and Field Placement Program Director to ensure the educational quality of the field placement.
- The student must obtain the signature of the Field Placement Program director and the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs. After all signatures are obtained, the student submits the Field Placement Registration Form to the Registrar for official enrollment.
- Students should indicate the number of credit hours expected to be earned via the field placement. The chart below correlates work hours to credit hours earned and is based on a fourteen week semester. Field Placements may be completed early if the hourly requirement has been met and with appropriate permission from both Faculty and Site Supervisors. All hours must be completed before the beginning of the following semester.
IV. Fall & Spring
(Based on semester dates-14 weeks)
3 credits = 14 hours/week = 196 total hours
4 credits = 16 hours/week = 224 total hours
5 credits = 18 hours/week = 252 total hours
6 credits = 20 hours/week = 280 total hours
Students should carefully consider the number of credits sought for each field placement; students who do not complete the number of hours corresponding to the number of credits enrolled may request the option of receiving an “incomplete” (I) and be allowed an additional six weeks from the start of the next term or semester to complete the hours. If a student does not complete the number of hours required for the number of credits enrolled, he will receive a pass for the number of credits corresponding to the number of hours actually completed. Attendance at orientation and weekly seminars do not count toward the number of hours pertaining to credits earned.
The field placement evaluation form will be completed, in turn, by the site supervisor, the faculty supervisor, and the field placement director. The student must be receive a satisfactory evaluation from each supervisor and director to earn a pass for the field placement. Students will be graded on a pass/fail basis only. The Field Placement Director shall assign the final grade and submit the grade to the registrar.
This externship provides students with the incomparable advantage of working with local judges. The experience affords students the ability to peer into the inner-workings behind judicial rulings and how juries decide cases. Students research and write on a broad variety of legal topics, enabling them to hone their research and writing skills and sharpen their analytical reasoning under the direct supervision of members of the bench. Many judges also offer observation of court proceedings.
Pre-requisite: Professional Responsibility and a current GPA of 3.00 or higher