How can I work with HLS students?
Your organization may work with HLS students during the school year either by offering a pro bono placement – where students perform legal work without receiving academic credit – or by offering a clinical placement – where students perform legal work for academic credit.
The following rules apply when working with HLS students:
- All students doing clinical and pro bono work must be supervised by a licensed attorney.
- Students cannot receive monetary compensation for their pro bono or clinical work during the academic year.
- The students’ work must be law-related and involve the application or interpretation of law, formulation of legal policy, drafting of legislation or regulations. Students should not do clerical or fundraising work. Eligible tasks include: assisting an attorney at a trial, client and witness interviewing and investigation, drafting documents, assisting pro se litigants in court, community legal education, research and writing, or policy analysis.
Providing a pro bono placement
- Pro bono projects are best for timely matters that need immediate and short-term assistance, one-time events, or research and writing that can be done off-site.
- Supervisors are required to confirm pro bono hours and submit a short evaluation of the student work.
- HLS requires J.D. students to perform at least 50 hours of unpaid legal work for nonprofit, governmental agency or law firm (working solely on pro bono matters).
Providing a clinical placement
- Clinical placements may be a good option if your organization will host a student on-site for 8-20 hours/week over a semester.
- Students are allowed to earn academic credit for legal work performed with nonprofits and governmental agencies.
- During fall and spring terms, students have the option to choose their weekly/ hourly commitment, depending on their class and other extra-curricular commitments. They may choose between 8, 12, 16, or 20 hours per week. During winter term, which is held in January for approximately three weeks, students are required to work full-time.
- Students may also be enrolled in a related subject matter course.
- Supervisors are required to give regular feedback and to complete written evaluations of student performance.
- Only 2L, 3L, or LL.M. students can enroll in a clinical placement.
Where do I start?
If you want to advertise term-time internships or volunteer opportunities and/or require further assistance, please contact us. Our office will work with you to find the most suitable arrangement that meets your needs and complies with law school and ABA guidelines for students.
Please send placement descriptions that include the following information:
- Name of organization
- Website and address
- Work description
- Prerequisites (courses, languages)
- Start and end dates
- Estimated total hours
- Attorney supervisor name
- How to apply, and
- Whom to contact
The Bernard Koteen Office of Public Interest Advising (OPIA) can assist with summer and post graduate opportunities.
Click here to view the 2022-2023 Supervisor’s Handbook.
Checklist for Clinical Supervising Attorneys
Each student should be assigned to work directly with one supervisor, although the student may also consult with other office staff throughout the course of his/her placement. If the student is receiving assignments from more than one attorney, the supervisor should coordinate all assignments and review the student’s work product. When there is more than one office, the student should be located in the same office as the supervisor. Finally, the supervisor must be a licensed attorney.
Schedule an Initial Meeting
Schedule an initial meeting at the beginning of the student’s placement to discuss your and the student’s expectations of the work to be done, the specific types of tasks the student will be assigned, the time frame for completion, and the goals of the project or placement. It may be helpful for you to express these mutual goals and expectations in writing. Provide the student with basic introductory information, including a brief overview of the organization, office policies and procedures and helpful resources for completing assignments.
Discuss issues of confidentiality and ethics with the student, keeping in mind that s/he may not have taken a course in professional responsibility prior to this placement. Provide the student with copies of office policies or other materials that you think will assist him/her in dealing with these issues. Talk to the student about how you would handle situations in which your duty of confidentiality might be compromised (e.g., discussing a case with a friend, etc.). Advise students as to the appropriateness of using writing from clinical work as writing samples in outside settings. Also, discuss e-mail system and protocol.
Check for Conflicts of Interest
Raise the issue of potential conflict of interests with the student and the rules of professional responsibility that must be considered. Keep in mind that students may have had multiple clinic experiences and/or summer jobs where they have potentially worked on competing sides of cases.
Assign the student responsibilities comparable to work that would be performed by a new attorney, and actively encourage the student to take on the most challenging work s/he can reasonably handle. You should provide the student with the opportunity to participate in a variety of interactions and proceedings that reflect the complexity and diversity of the legal work of the office. The student should approximate working as a lawyer to the maximum extent and should be intimately involved in, not just an observer of, the strategic decision-making process in matters in which s/he is involved.
Provide Regular Feedback
Regularly review, critique, and provide timely feedback on the student’s work. Provide specific information on whether the student’s approach is effective, and suggest alternatives. It is essential to provide ongoing constructive feedback to enable the student to analyze his/her performance, improve, and gain confidence.
Meet weekly with your student. These meetings will provide an opportunity for you to explain assignments and provide critical feedback on the student’s performance. Also, it will allow the student to ask questions and to obtain your guidance on a regular basis. When you give a student an assignment, discuss the immediate and long term objectives and explain the context of the issue. Specify time deadlines and other expectations.
Student Court Certification
If the student is required to appear in court, please check with the Office of Clinical and Pro Bono Programs to inquire if the student either has been, or can be, certified to appear in court under local student practice rules.
It is the responsibility of the supervising attorney to be covered under a malpractice insurance policy and that the student will fall under the attorney’s coverage.
Students are responsible for consistently working the required number of hours each week throughout the semester. If a student is incommunicative, missing work or deadlines, please contact the Office of Clinical and Pro Bono Programs. Students must fulfill all clinical work hours on-site at the clinical placement. Any exceptions or deviations must be discussed in advance with the clinical supervisor and the Office of Clinical and Pro Bono Programs.
Discuss Close Out Procedures
Before the end of the semester, please discuss with students any close-out procedures they must comply with in order to complete their clinical work. Someone from the Office of Clinical and Pro Bono Programs may arrange a time to meet with you to conduct a ‘site visit’ during the semester.
Complete a Mid-Semester and Final Placement Evaluation
You must complete a written mid-semester evaluation of the student’s performance. You also must complete a written final evaluation of the student’s work performance at the end of the semester.
We appreciate your time and energy spent providing students with these unique opportunities to apply their legal skills and to serve the public interest! If you have any questions or concerns about the process or difficulties in working with a student, please contact us.
Checklist for Pro Bono Supervising Attorneys
- Before the student begins work, both the student and the supervising attorney must complete a Project Terms and Conditions form and submit it to the Pro Bono Service Program.
- This form is a good framework to use in discussing such issues as the substance of the project, training, deadlines and schedules, and how you will communicate (e.g.,by email, phone appointments, in-person).
- Discuss potential conflict of interests with the student and the rules of professional responsibility that must be considered. Keep in mind that students may have had multiple clinic experiences and/or summer jobs where they have potentially worked on competing sides of cases.
- Discuss issues of confidentiality and ethics with the student, keeping in mind that s/he may not have taken a course in professional responsibility prior to this placement. Provide the student with copies of office policies or other materials that you think will assist him/her in dealing with these issues. Talk to the student about how you would handle situations in which your duty of confidentiality might be compromised (e.g., discussing a case with a friend, etc.). Advise students as to the appropriateness of using writing from clinical work as writing samples in outside settings. Also, discuss e-mail system and protocol.
- At the completion of the project, the supervising attorney will conduct an exit interview with the student.
- The supervising attorney also must complete and submit an evaluation of the student and sign the Time Log (Download the Pro Bono Timelog and Supervisor Evaluation Form) verifying the student’s hours. It is the student’s responsibility to provide this form to the supervising attorney and verify it has been received by the Clinical and Pro Bono office.