Field Placement Program
The Field Placement Program provides students an opportunity to perform legal work under the supervision of a practicing attorney at approved governmental agencies, as well as nonprofit legal services organizations and nonprofit public national and international organizations. Students will work a specified number of hours per week under the supervision of a practicing attorney, complete a goals memorandum, maintain weekly journals of their experience, participate in online discussions, and write a final reflective paper.
The ultimate service
Lindsey Collins, L'14
Lindsey Collins spent her entire professional career before law school in public service. As a lawyer, she plans to continue on that path, and she views joining the Army Judge Advocate General Corps as “the definitive way to serve my community and my country.” KU Law’s Field Placement Program provided an ideal opportunity for Collins to accept a competitive summer position with Army JAG at Fort Leavenworth — earning course credit while accumulating invaluable practice experience in precisely the arena she wants to enter after graduation.
“On day two, I sat down with trial counsel and started working through a case. I had an assignment to write three motions my second day,” said Collins, L’14. “It was a little overwhelming, but so exciting.”
Because her superiors have a true open-door policy, Collins has learned volumes about the military justice system and been empowered to take on challenging assignments. After President Obama’s recent comments about sexual assault in the military, questions arose regarding undue command influence in military cases, and Collins conducted research and served as part of a team that drafted new jury selection questions for consideration.
“I don’t think you need to have an interest in pursuing an Army career to pursue an internship with the JAG office,” she said. “The practical experience that begins immediately is worth it for every aspiring attorney — great trial strategy exercises and fantastic writing assignments, all while wrestling with substantive issues in the law. It’s going to be applicable in any law practice.”
To participate in the Field Placement Program, students must have completed the equivalent of 2 semesters of law school and be in academic good standing.
Students may earn 3 credit hours during each of the fall and spring semesters. During the summer, students may choose to earn either 3 or 6 credit hours.
A student may earn a maximum of 6 credit hours of Field Placement Program credit toward graduation.
Each credit hour requires 42.5 hours of work. All work must be completed during the academic term in which the student is enrolled in the Field Placement Program. The particular work schedule is up to each student and his or her supervising attorney, and should be discussed before beginning work at the placement.
The Program is graded on a credit/no credit basis.
If approved, a field placement will consist of two components:
- A work experience in the approved field placement (a “job” at the organization), which consists of working a specified number of hours of work per week at the approved field placement,
- An academic experience, which consists of:
- Attendance at a mandatory orientation class session;
- Meetings with the Program Director;
- Completion of a goals memo;
- Submission of weekly journal entries to the Program Director; and
- Completion of a reflective paper.
Jobs that Qualify for Field Placement Program Credit
A student may receive academic credit for legal positions with approved government agencies, nonprofit legal services organizations, and nonprofit international organizations. All externship placements must be approved by the Program Director.
Placements appropriate for credit are those that involve work assisting one or more clients with legal matters. Such placements should include the opportunity to practice lawyering skills such as legal research, analysis, and writing; advocacy; and client communication. Placements should also afford students the opportunity to observe at least one lawyer in his or her daily work.
Positions with private, for-profit law firms or other for-profit entities do not qualify for Field Placement Program credit.
A student may not gain academic credit for work in which he receives monetary compensation of any kind, including scholarship assistance contingent on the placement. Reimbursement for expenses such as mileage may be permitted. Students may not receive Field Placement Program credit at placements where they have previously been employed for pay, or where they have received an offer of paid employment.
Students may not receive Field Placement Program credit in a placement for which there is an existing specialized KU Law clinic or field placement program without prior permission from both the director of the affected specialized law school clinic or field placement and the director of the Field Placement Program. As a general rule, students with prosecution placements should participate in the Prosecution Field Placement Program; students with judicial placements should participate in the Judicial Field Placement Program; and so forth.
Obtaining a Field Placement
The Field Placement Program is self-placing, meaning that students find their own placements and apply to receive credit through the program. Some, but not all, field placement opportunities are posted on Symplicity, which is an online database utilized by the Career Services Office. Students may, of course, seek assistance and guidance from the Program Director.
Applying for the Field Placement Program
An application for participation in the Field Placement Program must be submitted for each academic term (fall, spring, or summer) in which the student wishes to participate. Applications should be submitted to the Program Director by the deadline prescribed by the Program Director.
For a Field Placement Program application to be processed:
- The student must obtain a placement with a qualified employer.
- The student must complete and submit an application, which can be found and downloaded from the KU Law website.
- The supervisor at the placement must be a licensed lawyer. He or she must submit a letter of interest, specifying what the student will do for the organization and addressing how the organization will ensure an excellent legal learning experience for the student. The letter of interest can be included with the application packet or can be submitted separately to the Program Director.
Applications for Fall 2017 are due to Professor Jennifer Schmidt by 5 p.m. August 22. Students must attend both a mandatory orientation class and a mandatory Professionalism in Practice class in person. Students who do not attend will not be able to receive credit through the Field Placement Program. Students should plan their travel and the start dates of their field placements accordingly:
- Mandatory Orientation Class: 6 - 8 p.m. August 24, 2017 (Room TBA)
- Mandatory Professionalism in Practice Class: 4:15 - 6 p.m. August 29, 2017 (Room TBA)