Individual Field Placements & Seminar: Information for Students
An individual field placement is a credit-bearing experiential learning opportunity that is created by the student and tailored to a student’s own interests and his or her educational and career goals. A student performs volunteer legal work at a legal organization or practice (called a “field placement sponsoring organization” or “sponsor”) under the supervision of an attorney (the “site supervisor”) who provides work projects and observational opportunities designed to develop the student’s lawyering skills and to enhance the student’s understanding of the legal profession. In addition to working at the field placement, the student is required to communicate with and provide written reflections to a faculty member of his or her choosing (the “faculty supervisor”) throughout the term. Registration is online; students need not have secured a field placement at the time they register.
1L students, whether enrolled in the day or evening division, may not enroll in an individual field placement course during the fall or spring semesters of their first year of law school. 1L students who have completed the fall and spring semester classes may enroll in an individual field placement course beginning in the June Term, even if they are also taking Moot Court during this term.
In the fall and spring semesters, the Individual Field Placement Approval Form approval form is due by the end of the first week of class of the term in which the fieldwork is being done. Summer term enrollment is flexible. Students may begin field placements at the opening of the June Term, or later in June, or even July. The approval form should be submitted to the Field Placement Program Director as soon as possible after a placement is secured. An incomplete or unsigned form will not be forwarded to the Registrar for enrollment.
|Semesters Offered||Fall, spring & summer|
|Credits||2-4 ungraded (placement)
1 graded (seminar)
|Class Meets||Various times|
Students seeking to satisfy the Practice-Based Learning Requirement with an Individual Field Placement must enroll for at least three credits (requiring 168 hours of fieldwork) and concurrently enroll in the one-credit Individual Field Placement Seminar. A student may earn up to 3 credits for an individual field placement during the fall or spring terms. During the summer term, students may earn up to 4 credits. Students may not earn more than a total of 8 credits from any combination of individual field placement courses and special research projects (SRPs). A credit is earned for every 56 hours of fieldwork performed. Therefore, for 3 credits, a student must work 168 hours over the term. For a 14-week academic term, this equals 12 hours per week. Students may work more than the required hours needed to earn the credits sought; if they work fewer hours, however, credits will be reduced.
The course is graded pass/fail. Students are allowed a total of 12 pass/fail credits toward their JD degree. Also, for planning purposes, note that students cannot earn more than 8 credits total for individual field placement courses and SRPs combined. The Individual Field Placement Seminar, required for students seeking to use the field placement to satisfy the Practice-Based Learning Requirement, is graded and does not count toward the limitations on pass/fail credits or individual field placement courses and SRPs.
Students interested in enrolling in an individual field placement course can look for experiences in a number of ways. These include:
- Review the postings on Symplicity. Approved field placement opportunities are posted on Symplicity. Some positions listed on Symplicity as “unpaid internships” may also be appropriate field placements.
- Research other possible field placement options. Students may talk to friends, colleagues and faculty members about the kind of work they would like to do. They may do research on the internet or in the Center for Career Development to find out what legal organizations in the area would offer the kind of experience they are looking for. If a student reaches out to a potential placement, the student must ensure that he or she will be supervised by an attorney who will provide the student opportunities for observation and performance of lawyering projects and activities, give guidance and feedback, and provide a workspace for him or her on the premises of the placement.
Students must contact the Field Placement Program Director to either approve a placement they have already found or to help them find a placement. Enrolling the the Individual Field Placement Course will automatically trigger a meeting with the Field Placement Program Director, but students are encouraged to reach out at any time.
Individual Field Placement Approval Form
To enroll in an individual field placement, a student must submit the Individual Field Placement Approval Form. The form seeks information about the field placement sponsor, the site and faculty supervisors, and the opportunities the student will have to observe and perform lawyering activities at the site or in connection with fieldwork. The approval form must be signed by the student, site supervisor, and faculty supervisor. Signing the form indicates approval of the student’s placement and certification of having read and understood the Field Placement Program Statement of Course Expectations. This Statement sets out the roles and responsibilities of students, site supervisors, and faculty supervisors in assuring a high-level educational experience for students in field placement programs, and is mandated by ABA Standards governing such programs.
Although a field placement course is not employment, students on F-1 or J-1 visa status must obtain proper work authorization prior to enrolling in a field placement course. Students on F-1 visa status must obtain CPT (Curricular Practical Training) certification; students on J-1 visa status must obtain Academic Training certification. The University of Connecticut’s Department of International Student & Scholar Services (ISSS) handles the applications for certification. The application forms and a description of the application process may be found here, and students are encouraged to contact ISSS directly as soon as they begin seeking field placement opportunities. Obtaining work authorization may take several weeks. Students are therefore advised to apply for CPT or Academic Training certification at least two weeks prior to the date on which they plan to start their fieldwork in order to ensure that they obtain certification in time to begin as planned. Note that students on F-1 visas who will take longer than two semesters to complete their degree program must wait until after the second semester to enroll in a field placement course.
Statement of Course Expectations
This Statement of Course Expectations articulates the general roles and responsibilities of participants in the UConn Law School Field Placement Program, consistent with American Bar Association Standards.
Reporting and Journaling
Students must keep a log of the dates and hours when they are engaged in fieldwork. The log should include a brief description of the students’ activities during the time reported. Students must be mindful of their ethical obligation not to disclose confidential client information. Each week, students must upload their work log onto a TWEN site maintained for this purpose. The Individual Field Placement course TWEN site has the required work log template and instructions about completing and submitting logs. No credit will be given for hours that are not reflected on work logs uploaded to the TWEN site.
For students not enrolled in the Individual Field Placement Seminar, there is a requirement to maintain a reflective journal. By faculty policy, journal entries must be submitted to the Field Placement Program Director and faculty supervisor at least four times at regular intervals during the semester or term of the field placement. The dates by which the students should submit each journal entry and the frequency of the journal submissions are to be agreed upon by the faculty supervisor and the student. Some faculty supervisors may ask the student to submit a page of journal entries per week, while others may ask for journals every two to three weeks, or by specific dates in the semester. In all, students should expect to write about 12-14 pages of journal entries during the field placement. The purpose of the journal is not to recount the student’s projects or experiences at the field placement. That information should be contained in the student’s weekly work log. Rather, the journal asks the student to reflect on what the student is learning in the placement – about the law, the practice setting in which the student is working, the legal profession, or him or herself. Topics for journal entries may be suggested by the faculty supervisor or selected by the student. A non-exhaustive list of possible journaling topics is posted on the Individual Field Placement course TWEN site.
Students enrolled in the Individual Field Placement Seminar have journaling requirements that are set by the seminar instructor and may differ from those described above.
At the completion of the fieldwork, the student must submit three completed evaluations to the Field Placement Program Director. For efficiency, the following process is recommended: The student should ask the site supervisor to complete an evaluation as soon as the fieldwork is completed. Once the site supervisor has completed the evaluation, the student should bring that evaluation, and the student’s own evaluation, to the faculty supervisor. The faculty supervisor will review the two evaluations, complete the faculty evaluation, and forward to the Field Placement Program Director with a recommendation that the student receive (or not receive) credit for the field placement course. Based on the faculty recommendation, and confirmation that the student’s logs submitted on TWEN reflect that the student has completed the requisite hours of work for the credits sought, the Field Placement Program Director will approve the award of the credits, and notify the Registrar to record the credits on the student’s transcript.