What Qualifies as an Independent Clinical Placement?
Both domestic and international placements must involve legal work supervised by a licensed attorney and may include direct client services as well as broad based advocacy.
Students may work at:
- legal services organizations
- public interest and other nonprofit organizations
- criminal defense agencies
- governmental agencies, or
- the judiciary
- Group projects (students going to the same placement with the same project) involving more than 3 students are not permitted. Group projects involving 3 or fewer students must be extremely strong to be approved. Each student must submit a separate proposal indicating their specific plans and how their individual participation is essential to the project.
- Work on political campaigns is not eligible for clinical credit but may count towards the Pro Bono Graduation Requirement if it meets certain criteria.
- Approval for projects in the private sector is extremely limited and is determined on a case-by-case basis. Private sector projects must be done on a pro bono basis and focus solely on matters related to the public interest. Students may not receive compensation for any work that results in clinical credit.
- Working remotely is not permitted as students are required to be on site at their placement organizations.
Secure Your Organization
Students are expected to find an organization they can work with that is a good match for their individualized learning goals. OCP does not provide a list of organizations that have hosted students in the past, as each project is intended to be independent and specific to a particular student’s interests.
Students are encouraged to search Helios for information about organizations or do a broader search by subject matter. Students can also consult Helios to check if other students have evaluated an organization they considering working at for their clinical placement.
For winter term, students must consider work that is appropriate for a condensed time frame of 3 weeks. They must clarify this in the project proposal. Students must also clarify that they have agreed with their supervising attorney on the details of the projects during the term.
Independent clinical work at existing clinical externships may be available only if the sponsoring organization has supervisory capacity. Clinical placements associated with courses are prioritized over independent clinical slots.
Students must review the requirements regarding the Committee on the Use of Human Subjects, and international travel as early as possible. Meeting the requirements in these areas may involve submission of additional documents.
Secure Your Supervising Attorney
Students must find a Supervising Attorney who will be responsible for directly supervising their work. The supervisor will need to sign the Supervising Attorney Form, which is required for the submission of the application. It is essential that students develop their project proposals in collaboration with their prospective supervisor. This will help ensure that students propose work that is realistic, focused, and in line with the mission of the placement organization.
Students are required to meet regularly with their supervisors for feedback throughout the semester and to initiate an exit interview at the end of the semester to discuss the final evaluation. Supervising attorneys will recommend either a Credit or Fail grade to the student’s Faculty Sponsor, who will also take into account the final paper when assigning the final grade.
SUPERVISing attorney MUST:
- Be a licensed attorney in the appropriate jurisdiction;
- Be employed by the Placement Organization and on-site during the placement;
- Submit a Mid-Semester Evaluation of the student’s work (Spring and Fall semester only);
- Submit a Final Evaluation of the student’s work at the end of the semester, together with a recommendation regarding whether the student should receive a Credit or Fail grade for the placement; and
- Not be the same person as the Faculty Sponsor.
OCP will e-mail supervisors a handbook setting forth the requirements for defining work expectations and goals, conducting regular meetings with students, and evaluating performance.
Secure Faculty Sponsor & Decide on Paper Topic
Students must find a faculty to sponsor who will monitor their reflection essays and academic paper. They are required to meet with their faculty sponsor ahead of time to discuss their proposed placements, work, and paper.
FACULTY SPONSOR MUST:
- Be a permanent HLS Faculty member or a Lecturer on Law who is part of the clinical program. Faculty sponsors cannot be a non-clinical Lecturer on Laws or a Visiting Professor of Law;
- Have expertise in the area of law pertaining to the independent clinical placement;
- Have no personal or professional conflicts in taking on the role of sponsor;
- Assist students in developing the topic for their academic paper;
- Review the academic paper at the end of the placement;
- Advise on and review weekly reflection emails from the student providing general (but not confidential) information about their work and reflecting on their experience;
- Review the Supervising Attorney’s evaluation of the student, weekly reflections, and academic paper to determine the appropriate grade; and
- Submit the credit/fail grade to the Registrar’s Office once the paper has been received and reviewed. If an extension is granted, it is essential to submit the grade as “EXT” and inform OCP of the extension.
Each student is required to write a 15-page academic paper (not a reflection paper) related to some aspect of the work of the placement organization or the field of practice. The paper cannot be work product the student produces during the placement, and must involve some original research and analysis of policy or practice. The paper topic should be developed in advance with the faculty sponsor and must be identified in the project proposal that will be submitted with the application.
Pre-Approved Independent Clinical Placements
OCP has pre-approved a limited number of independent clinical placements with organizations that have quality supervision and a commitment to providing an excellent educational experience. Students are required to apply to the organizations, which have their own separate application processes. When selected by the organization students must promptly submit their independent clinical application in accordance with the required guidelines. All of the pre-approved placements are subject to change.