Students

  • Print
  • Share
  • Questions

Field Placement FAQ

What is the Field Placement program?

The Field Placement program at McGeorge School of Law seeks to prepare future members of the legal profession with practical, hands-on real world experience. Students earn academic credit while working for government agencies, courts, non-profit entities and limited for-profit entities; and gain marketable and practical legal experience. Field Placements are all approved and in compliance with the ABA standard 305 governing "Study Outside the Classroom".

What will I gain from participating in the Field Placement program?

Students will be prepared for joining the legal profession by being exposed to the many roles that lawyers perform in a rapidly changing world. Students will apply the legal theory and principles learned in their academic courses, to practical, real-world environments. Students will gain invaluable skills of legal research, writing, negotiation, interviewing witnesses, and many other daily and routine tasks that lawyers perform. Students will gain a better understanding of the legal system, while performing tasks or representing clients in a zealous and professional way.

Where do externs work?

Students have a variety of available placements to choose from. Students can choose from local approved government agencies, Courts and non-profit entities, as well as national or international placements and limited for-profit entities.

Are there paid externships?

No. Students who participate in the Field Placement program can earn academic credit in exchange for work in their placement. Pursuant to ABA standard 305, the "credit granted shall be commensurate with the time and effort required and the anticipated quality of the educational experience of the student". Students typically earn P/NP academic credit.

Is a Field Placement required to graduate?

Students are required to participate in one three (3)-unit Field Placement or Clinic to graduate.

Who can participate in the Field Placement program?

Any currently enrolled day or evening student, who has satisfactorily completed their first year and are not on academic probation. Additionally, some placements have specific requirements (i.e. be a certified law student, top 50% standing, or taken specific classes, etc.); students should check placement specific requirements.

Can international students work in a Field Placement?

Depends. International students may be placed in a Field Placement if they have the clearance to legally work in the United States.

Can a student do more than one externship in a semester?

Possibly. Participation in more than one externship will require a special meeting with the Director of the Field Placement program. The director will examine, among others, a student's other extracurricular activities, academic course load, and other employment and family commitment to determine whether participation in more than one placement would be beneficial.

How many hours do I have to work at my externship?

The credit hours students earn will be commensurate with the number of hours a student works in their field placement.

  • Three (3) credit hours — 150 hours/semester
  • Four (4) credit hours — 200 hours/semester
  • Seven (7) credit hours — 280 hours/semester (half time semester-in-practice)*
  • 14 credit hours — 560 hours/semester (full-time semester-in-practice)*

* Requires special pre-approval for either of the semester-in-practice programs

Do I have to make-up hours if I am sick or if there is a holiday?

Most likely. Students must complete the minimum hours to obtain the credit they seek. So, if a student has missed a significant amount of time that will impair them obtaining the minimum hours needed for credit, the hours will need to be made up. Semester-in-practice student should see specific governing or applicable rules.

I volunteered over the summer/fall/spring; can I get credit for my past volunteering?

No. Students can receive credit only during the semester in which they are enrolled in the Field Placement program.

I volunteered over the summer/fall/spring; can I continue and receive credit the following semester?

Yes, if the Placement is an approved Field Placement Site. You must notify the Field Placement Office and complete the required registration forms. However, many students have a more rewarding experience if they move on to new placements. But sometimes there are good reasons to continue at a single placement.

Does participation in a Field Placement require any additional commitment?

Yes. Field Placement participants will also be required to concurrently enroll in a seminar, in which students will attend five (5) seminar meetings throughout the semester and consult with their seminar leader. Seminar-leaders may require students to keep a reflective journal or write periodic reflective essays. Additionally, seminar leaders may require a final written work product or an appropriate writing sample that is reflective of their placement.

Student must complete a Field Placement Orientation at the beginning of the semester. Additionally, semester-in-practice students will have additional requirements.

When should I begin looking for a Field Placement?

Students are eligible for participation after their first successfully completed year. Students should begin looking for a placement as early as possible and applications will be due at the minimum the semester PRIOR to the semester the student wishes to participate (i.e. if you want to do a field placement in the Spring, you need to apply in the Fall). Some placements require background checks that can take up to eight (8) weeks to process and the semester-in-practice requirements require additional time. Please see the TWEN field placement site for specific deadlines.

How do I find a placement?

There are many different "techniques" to finding a Field Placement externship. Students should consider the areas of law they are interested in practicing. Students can review the approved placement descriptions on the TWEN site to determine their level of interest. If a student has difficulty in locating an appropriate placement, or wants to consider a number of options, then a meeting with the Field Placement director may be scheduled to provide for additional suggestions.

Basic internet research can make suggestions, as well as school sponsored events and talking with students who have already participated in the program. If a student wants to consider a non-approved placement, the student should start earlier and special approval by the Director of Field Placement will be required.

What is the application process for participating in the Field Placement program?

Step 1 — Submit their Spring 2014 "Notice of Intent" on the McGeorge to participate in the Spring 2014 semester. The Notice of Intent commences the process to participate in Field Placement.

Step 2 — Review the Field Placement Program materials and Directory of Field Placements on the Field Placement Program TWEN website.

Step 3 — Choose no more than 5 approved Placement sites to apply to as found in the Directory of Field Placements.

Step 4 — If you want to discuss your options for Field Placement, please visit the Field Placement TWEN site and sign up for an available Appointment Time.

Step 5 — Prepare your Placement Application Packets, which consists of your resume, cover letter, and depending on the Placement requirements, may include a writing sample and unofficial transcript. It is your responsibility to know what materials consist of for each application packet from the information in the Directory of Field Placements. Create a PDF document for each Placement Application Packet and name it accordingly.

(Note: There is no separate form to complete.)

Step 6 — Submit your Placement Application Packets via email to Sacexternships@pacific.edu.

Step 7 — The Field Placement Office will forward your materials to the Placement Site Supervisors who will contact you directly if they are interested in interviewing you.

Step 8 — After any interview, should you receive an offer for a Field Placement position, please notify the Placement Site of your acceptance or denial, and notify the Field Placement Office immediately.

Step 9 — Register for your Field Placement units through the Field Placement Program.

How should a student approach interviewing for an externship?

Interviewing for externships is far less stressful than interviewing for paid positions. While you are offering free labor in exchange for educational opportunity, you are still interviewing for a job opportunity. The Placement Site Supervising Attorney invests significant time and energy into identifying appropriate assignments and providing advice on your legal work. When you go to interview with a potential placement, try to find out as much as you can about the organization, the lawyers, and the types of work that you might be asked to do. It is desirable to interview with more than one before you accept an offer of an externship. The comparative data you will obtain from multiple interviews will help you to critically evaluate the opportunities that you have identified. Also, the process of visiting organizations to interview will help you to build a professional network. However, if offered a position that you are interested in, you may accept it.

Who approves my Field Placement once I receive a field placement offer?

The Field Placement Program must approve all field placements before you can register for units.

Can I register for a Field Placement myself on line?

No. You must seek approval and then register your field placement through the Field Placement Program.

When does my Field Placement start?

Your Field Placement will start on the 1st day of classes of the semester.

Can I start early or late in my Field Placement?

You may start up to one week early if requested to do so by the Placement site. The Director must approve any request to start your externship offer after the 1st day of classes, whether the request is from the student or the placement site. The student must advise the Field Placement Office immediately upon receiving a request to begin late from a placement site.

My Field Placement has been approved and I have a tentative start date, what should I expect?

You should contact your Supervising Attorney regarding your hours and any specific instructions for your first day. Remember you are entering into a professional environment and students should take care to dress and act professionally.

If I filled out a Notice of Intent in a previous semester, but did not apply to a Field Placement, does my Notice of Intent need to be re-submitted?

Probably No. The Field Placement will have the file previously submitted. However, if any additional information needs to be updated or has since changed, a new Notice of Intent will need to be filled out.

Can I participate in a study abroad and a Field Placement in the same summer?

Depends. There are study abroad programs that have a Field Placement program incorporated in them, such as the Uganda and Guatemala programs. Other study abroad programs will likely preclude a Field Placement because of the timing of the placements. Students may also consider independent international field placements.

Will my Westlaw or Nexis passwords work over the summer, so that I can conduct legal research?

Yes. As long as a student is receiving academic credit for their judicial, government, or non-profit placement (and/or concurrently enrolled in summer school), the Westlaw and LexisNexis passwords will work.

How will participation in the Field Placement Program affect my financial aid?

If the Field Placement is within the academic year, it will be part of the class unit tuition payments. Participation in the Field Placement Program may affect evening students differently because of the additional academic credits. Any additional questions can be answered through the Financial Aid Office.

Is there a limit or cap on the number of Field Placements a student may participate in during their attendance at McGeorge School of Law?

Yes. A student is required to have 88 units to graduate, 16 of which may be taken as P/NP. Depending on the amount of pass/fail units a student has available, all 16 P/NP units may be credited towards Field Placements.

What steps must a student take at the end of a semester to ensure receipt of credit for an externship?

At the end of each externship semester, a student must:

  1. fill out the online placement evaluation forms
  2. make sure that the supervisor has completed the Supervising Attorney Evaluation form
  3. be sure that he or she has completed the required hours and submitted time logs for those hours; and
  4. be sure that he or she has completed all work assigned for the field placement seminar

What does the law school require of an organization hosting an extern?

We try to keep the red tape to a minimum, but there are a few essentials:

  • Every placement should recognize that an extern is working without pay for academic credit and should try to structure the experience to maximize learning opportunities for the student.
  • Every extern must be assigned a professional person to be the primary supervisor and mentor. Even if a student will do work with several lawyers, one must be designated as a point of contact with the law school.
  • The Supervising Attorney must identify appropriate legal projects and provide direction to the student.
  • The Supervising Attorney should meet with the extern at least once a week to answer questions, review progress on assignments, etc.
  • Usually, an extern must be provided with a desk, a phone, a computer, and necessary research tools.
  • Student externs should not be asked to do administrative work, except for administrative tasks normally performed by other professionals in the organization.
  • At the end of the semester, the Supervising Attorney must complete a Supervising Attorney Evaluation form describing the work that the student has done and evaluating the student's performance.
  • Placement supervisors must respect that student externs have numerous obligations outside of their externships and should not ask them to spend more time on work for the placement than the students need to obtain credit, unless the placement made clear at the outset that a larger number of hours per week was required by the placement than by the law school.
  • Law firms that host externs working for credit may not bill out the student's time to clients.
  • Placement organizations may not pay students for work done for academic credit, except that they may cover the cost of local transportation.

What does the law school require of a law student who participates in the Field Placement program?

Students must adhere to the Rules of Professional Conduct of the State Bar of California (see http://www.calbar.ca/gov/state/calbar_generic.jsp?cid=10158&id=3422). Students will be required to keep and maintain both office and client confidences. Students should take care to maintain a professional attitude and demeanor at all times, and to put their best efforts into assignments given to them by the supervising attorney's.

Incidental costs such as parking and transportation are not reimbursed by the School; however, the City of Sacramento offers a discounted parking program to externs who work within Sacramento's downtown business district. Please request this information from the Field Placement Office, if your placement site is located in downtown Sacramento.

Are there International externships? What is the application process for those?

In seeking an International externship, more planning and coordination will be required than for a local placement. It is recommended that students begin the process at least a year before the semester that they want to go abroad. Students should remember that international externships will require additional processing time for relevant background checks, entry visa or work visa applications, and passport renewals or applications. However, it is a completely feasible and rewarding experience for those students who are interested.

Interested students will work with both the Field Placement Program and the Graduate and International Program to select an externship and take the correct steps in applying. Students can consult the International Guide to Working Abroad and the International Field Placement Directory for more information. Any interested students should schedule an appointment with the Field Placement director ASAP to discuss application procedures.

What is a certified law student?

A "certified law student" is a law student who has a currently effective certificate of registration as a certified law student from the State Bar. A "supervising attorney" is a member of the State Bar who agrees to supervise a certified law student under rules established by the State Bar and whose name appears on the application for certification.

How do I become a certified law student?

To be eligible to become a certified law student, an applicant must:

  1. Have successfully completed one full year of studies (minimum of 270 hours) at a law school accredited by the American Bar Association or the State Bar of California, or both, or have passed the first year law students' examination;
  2. Have been accepted into, and be enrolled in, the second, third, or fourth year of law school in good academic standing or have graduated from law school, subject to the time period limitations specified in the rules adopted by the Board of Governors of the State Bar; and
  3. Have either successfully completed or be currently enrolled in and attending academic courses in evidence and civil procedure.

What is a certified law student permitted to do?

Subject to all applicable rules, regulations, and statutes, a certified law student may:

  1. Negotiate for and on behalf of the client subject to final approval thereof by the supervising attorney or give legal advice to the client, provided that the certified law student:
    1. Obtains the approval of the supervising attorney to engage in the activities;
    2. Obtains the approval of the supervising attorney regarding the legal advice to be given or plan of negotiation to be undertaken by the certified law student; and
    3. Performs the activities under the general supervision of the supervising attorney;
  2. Appear on behalf of the client in depositions, provided that the certified law student:
    1. Obtains the approval of the supervising attorney to engage in the activity;
    2. Performs the activity under the direct and immediate supervision and in the personal presence of the supervising attorney (or, exclusively in the case of government agencies, any deputy, assistant, or other staff attorney authorized and designated by the supervising attorney); and
    3. Obtains a signed consent form from the client on whose behalf the certified law student acts (or, exclusively in the case of government agencies, from the chief counsel or prosecuting attorney) approving the performance of such acts by such certified law student or generally by any certified law student;
  3. Appear on behalf of the client in any public trial, hearing, arbitration, or proceeding, or before any arbitrator, court, public agency, referee, magistrate, commissioner, or hearing officer, to the extent approved by such arbitrator, court, public agency, referee, magistrate, commissioner, or hearing officer, provided that the certified law student:
    1. Obtains the approval of the supervising attorney to engage in the activity;
    2. Performs the activity under the direct and immediate supervision and in the personal presence of the supervising attorney (or, exclusively in the case of government agencies, any deputy, assistant, or other staff attorney authorized and designated by the supervising attorney);
    3. Obtains a signed consent form from the client on whose behalf the certified law student acts (or, exclusively in the case of government agencies, from the chief counsel or prosecuting attorney) approving the performance of such acts by such certified law student or generally by any certified law student; and
    4. As a condition to such appearance, either presents a copy of the consent form to the arbitrator, court, public agency, referee, magistrate, commissioner, or hearing officer, or files a copy of the consent form in the court case file; and
    5. Appear on behalf of a government agency in the prosecution of criminal actions classified as infractions or other such minor criminal offenses with a maximum penalty or a fine equal to the maximum fine for infractions in California, including any public trial:
      1. Subject to approval by the court, commissioner, referee, hearing officer, or magistrate presiding at such public trial; and
      2. Without the personal appearance of the supervising attorney or any deputy, assistant, or other staff attorney authorized and designated by the supervising attorney, but only if the supervising attorney or the designated attorney has approved in writing the performance of such acts by the certified law student and is immediately available to attend the proceeding.

Why do I have to apply to the District Attorney Office, U.S. Attorney Office, and/or other specific offices at least a semester before I extern?

The District Attorney, U.S. Attorney, and/or other specific offices are both very popular choices for law students and require additional security clearance to begin work.

Additional Questions?

Field Placement Program
Email | 916.739.7188