Academic Goals and Student Evaluation

What are the Academic Goals of the Program?

Our Educational Objectives for the Program include:

  • Teaching students about substantive legal issues arising in government and public interest legal departments through students working on real-world projects and through active reflection on their experiences through classroom instruction and learning. 
  • Developing practical legal skills, including legal analysis and reasoning, research, writing, problem solving, communication, teamwork, negotiation, client interviewing, fact finding, and advocacy. Students will be supervised, trained and critiqued in the exercise of these skills by seasoned legal practitioners.
  • Improving professional skills through working in a professional law office, students will also develop an understanding of workplace issues such as time management, workplace culture, professionalism, and giving and receiving feedback.
  • Providing students with an in-depth and holistic understanding of the client and its expectations. A better understanding of client needs will make the students more effective legal advisors, regardless of where they ultimately practice. 

Student Learning Outcomes

The goal of the Program is that you will obtain direct experience in a law practice setting that will expand upon substantive coursework; integrating doctrine, legal theory, skills, and ethics; and give multiple opportunities for performance, self-evaluation, professional skill development, and exposure to the relevant substantive and procedural laws.

By the end of the Program you should have a basic knowledge of many substantive issues encountered in your specific public sector legal department. Through working on real-world legal projects and by observing lawyers dealing with legal issues in context, you will gain a better understanding of the practice of law and public policy concerns faced by the specific placement. Your externship placement should also provide an opportunity to develop your professional skills, including legal analysis and reasoning, drafting, problem solving, communication, teamwork, negotiation, time management, and fact finding. Seasoned practitioners will train you in the exercise of these skills, supervise your progress, and critique your development.

Finally, you will gain an in-depth and holistic understanding of the clients and constituents the agency serves and the client’s expectations. Such an understanding will make you a more effective legal advisor, regardless of whether you practice in a law firm, government agency, nonprofit organization, or a corporation.

How are Students Evaluated?

The externship component of the program is graded on a pass/fail basis, and the class component is graded.

Students must pass both the externship and the class components in order to receive any academic credit for the program. Students submit timesheets and weekly reports to the faculty supervisor and reflect on their experiences throughout the program. They are also required to complete two written evaluations of their placement, at mid-semester and at the conclusion of the externship, as well as a presentation on the placement and a final self-assessment paper.