Every student must complete one or more experiential courses totaling at least six credit hours. Every experiential course must:
- Integrate doctrine, theory, skills, and legal ethics, and engage students in performance of one or more of the professional skills identified in Standard 302;
- Develop the concepts underlying the professional skills being taught;
- Provide multiple opportunities for performance;
- Provide opportunities for self-evaluation.
The experiential education requirement may be satisfied by enrollment in a simulation course, a legal clinic, or a field placement.
Simulation courses include
(1) Contract Drafting,
(2) Domestic Violence Workshop,
(3) Interview, Counseling and Negotiation,
(4) Law Office Management,
(5) Mediation Theory and Practice,
(6) Pretrial Practice Workshop,
(7) Trial Practice.
The Associate Dean for Academic Affairs may designate other courses as meeting the experiential education requirement on a case by case basis if the designated course meets the four requirements set out above.
The Legal Clinical Program offers third-year law students an opportunity to serve traditionally underserved clients under the supervision of a faculty member admitted to practice. There are currently three clinics:
(3) Criminal Defense.
The Homelessness and Legal Advocacy Clinic offers a comprehensive set of legal services focused on assisting and empowering low-income individuals in their interaction with the legal system. Interviewing clients at the Coalition for the Homeless and the Women’s Residential Counseling Center, students in the Homelessness and Legal Advocacy Clinic provide legal assistance in areas such as, Family Law: Divorce; Paternity; Child Support; Custody and Visitation; Consumer Law; Obtaining a credit report; Creditor Harassment; Disputing Incorrect Debts on Credit Report; Applying for Government Benefits; Social Security; Disability; Medicare; Medicaid; and Food Stamps.
The Mediation Clinic allows students to become certified mediators. Students will learn and develop skills crucial to the role of mediators and legal professionals. By focusing and implementing mediation methodologies, students will learn skills of active listening and communications; conflict, issue and interests spotting, information gathering and negotiations techniques; problem-solving strategies and approaches; and effective mediation settlement agreement drafting.
The Criminal Defense Clinic (“CDC”) provides students the opportunity to represent real clients charged with crimes. Students conduct initial intake interviews, participate in discovery, prepare witnesses, negotiate with the state regarding plea bargains, prepare and present pre- and post-trial motions, and, if necessary, represent clients throughout an entire trial.
Students wishing to participate in a legal clinic must complete an application available from the Legal Clinic and will be subject to a character and fitness evaluation.
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 1 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 or magistrates, or attorneys in government agencies, public interest organizations, non-profit organizations, law firms and corporate legal offices. Field Placements offer students 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 determine the selection requirements of any field placement.
I. FIELD PLACEMENT COMPONENTS
A Field Placement will consist of two contemporaneous components:
a) the field component,
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 biweekly completion of reading and writing assignments posted on the Field Placement TWEN page. In addition, students must complete and submit weekly written reflections 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.
II. REGISTRATION AND CREDIT HOURS
Students register for field placement using the following procedure:
1.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.
2.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.).
3.Each student must request supervision from a full-time faculty member. If the Field Placement site is 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.
4.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. In some instances, such as a Congressional or international internship, the site supervisor may be approved even if he or she is not licensed to practice. 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.
5.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. The Registrar will issue a “permission code” allowing the student to officially enroll in a field placement via IRattler.
6.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. The required number of hours are the same for the summer term, though the summer term is typically only ten weeks (excluding the reading period and exam week). Field Placements may be completed early if the hourly requirement hours have been satisfied and with appropriate permission from both Faculty and Site Supervisors. Except when an extension is granted by the Field Placement Director, all hours must be completed before the beginning of the following semester.
1 credit = 140 total hours
2 credits = 168 total hours
3 credits = 196 total hours
4 credits = 224 total hours
5 credits = 252 total hours
6 credits = 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” and be allowed an additional six weeks from the start of the next term or semester to complete the hours.
Students will be graded on a pass/fail basis only. The Field Placement Director shall, after consultation with the Faculty and Site Supervisor, assign the final grade and submit the grade to the registrar.