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clinical programs

In Clinical Externship courses, students are placed in settings outside of the law school to be supervised by lawyers who work in those settings. These course include:

Attorney General Clinical Program Seminar
The Attorney General Clinical Program provides an intensive full-year clinical experience in civil litigation in the Government Bureau of the Massachusetts Office of the Attorney General. Students practice under the supervision of one of two faculty members who are assistant or special assistant attorneys general in that Bureau.  Students work directly with Bureau attorneys in the representation of state agencies and officials in state and federal courts.

The clinic teaches litigation skills and strategy and includes the following types of legal work: (1) the drafting of pleadings, motions, discovery requests and responses, and other litigation documents; (2) legal research and writing of briefs in the trial and appellate courts; (3) oral argument in the state courts; and (4) other litigation tasks including taking depositions. Students will be expected to do a significant amount of legal writing. Pursuant to Rule 3:03 of the Supreme Judicial Court, students may argue orally in Superior Court on behalf of state agencies. Students will be assigned to one of two Divisions in the Government Bureau, either the Administrative Law Division or the Trial Division.  Students assigned to the Administrative Law Division will work on a variety of court cases involving administrative and constitutional law, federal courts, and statutory construction.  Students assigned to the Trial Division will work on a variety of cases involving employment, tort, contracts and eminent domain/land use law.  Students receive written and oral comments on their memoranda and written evaluations of their performance.  The overall goal of the program is to provide an in-depth exposure to various areas of law in the context of a high-level practice that deals with these issues on a daily basis.

The clinical program includes a weekly two-hour seminar on litigation skills, substantive law topics, and the discussion of student work.  Some of the seminars will be conducted jointly with the students assigned to both divisions; other seminars will be specific to each division.  Topics include state and federal jurisdiction, the substantive law practiced in each division, drafting litigation documents, motion practice, discovery, trial preparation, appellate practice, and the role of state attorneys general.  The seminar for the fall and spring semesters will be held on Wednesday afternoon from 12:30-2:30 p.m. at the Attorney General’s Office.

The program will select 12 third-year students. Students must commit 20 hours per week (including the two-hour seminar but excluding commuting time) to the program at the Attorney General's Office.  This often requires two full days and one half-day at the Attorney Generals' office at One Ashburton Place in Boston, though the students will be free to select their usual hours (other than the seminar time).  Students will receive 13 credits for the full year (7 in the Fall semester and 6 credits in the Spring semester).  The course satisfies the lawyering skills and upper-level writing requirements.  The course is graded on a pass-fail basis.

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Immigration Externship Program
The Immigration Externship Program provides students with the opportunity to develop their immigration lawyering skills and exposes them to the realities of immigration practice.  Participants work either off campus at a firm or non-profit, or on campus with the Post-Deportation Human Rights Project.  Practice areas vary but often involve asylum, adjustment of status for victims of domestic violence, employment-based, or deportation defense.  Students apply on Symplicity and should state any preferences as to substantive areas of the law; type of work (e.g., client interviewing or brief-writing); or office environment (e.g., firm or non-profit).  We will do our best to honor these preferences, although the availability of placements changes each semester.  Limited enrollment.

Students who participate in the fall externship program and practicum have the option of applying for the spring Immigration Clinic without the requirement of attending the spring practicum.  The practicum brings together students from the externship program and the immigration clinic to study immigration procedure and discuss substantive issues in their cases.

Students may also wish to enroll in the spring semester Advanced Immigration Law Seminar, a two credit class examining refugee law, the intersection of criminal and immigration law, and deportation defense, among other topics.

Innocence Project Externship

The BCIP Externship program offers students the opportunity to work 2-3 days/week in placement settings focused on preventing or remedying erroneous convictions.  Placements include the New England Innocence Project, the Committee for Public Counsel Services Innocence Program, and Prosecution Innocence Project or Integrity Units.  Assignments vary with placement but may include case analysis and screening, factual investigation, forensic research and investigation, post-conviction litigation, participation in judicial hearings, development of best practices for preventing erroneous convictions, and policy development.

Work done at placements is supervised by the placement supervisor.  Students also write weekly reflective journals reviewed by Professor Beckman or Professor Whitmore.

London Program
The London Program is given each Spring Semester at King's College London.  The on-site Director, Professor Michael Cassidy, teaches a course and a seminar in London.  The Advanced European Union Law and King's College Elective course are taught by members of the King's College Law School faculty. 

The Program has two major components, one classroom based, and the other experiential.  The classroom component consists of four courses.  In the fall semester, all students intending to go to London must take, or have previously taken, an introductory course in European Union Law. In London, students take two required courses, International and Comparative Law Concepts and Advanced European Union Law, and they choose an additional master's level course from the King's College Law School curriculum.  In the past, students have taken courses in International Environmental Law, International Business Transactions, European Internal Market, The Theory and Practice of Parliament, International Securities Regulation and the Law of Treaties.  Papers will be required for some of these courses.

The centerpiece of the London Program is its internship component.  This represents an effort to replicate, in a foreign setting, some of the features of the law school's highly successful Semester in Practice program.  Students in London have worked with a number of non-profit human rights and environmental organizations, including Interights, Liberty, Justice, Article 19, as well as the Financial Services Authority, and several major London law firms.  Students spend 20 to 25 hours per week at their internship placement, work under close supervision, and maintain journals relating to their research, writing and observations.  These are then discussed at a regularly scheduled Seminar led by the Faculty Director.  In addition, students visit legal and political institutions, and have library privileges at the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies which is also part of London University.

The London Program supplements the educational process at Boston College Law School by exposing students firsthand to a different legal culture.  The Program is designed to provide students with a critical insight into comparative legal institutions, and prepare them for international law practice, with special emphasis on international regulatory process, whether in environmental or securities regulation, human rights law, antitrust, intellectual property or other arenas.

Through seminars and working experience, Boston College students develop further understandings of the similarities and differences between British, European, and American law and institutions.  The classroom and clinical experience combined with the daily aspects of life in a foreign environment broadens students’ legal education in a unique way.  The London experience allows students to maximize their education in European and comparative law while maintaining the high academic standards of Boston College Law School.

A maximum of ten students are selected to participate. Professor Cassidy makes the placement assignments.  Every effort is made to find a good match for students and placements. You will be notified if you have been selected or are on the waiting list early in the Fall semester.

Semester in Practice
Unique among BC Law's' clinical offerings, this limited enrollment, one semester course is designed to maximize students' ability to improve their lawyering skills while working with experienced local lawyers and judges.  Students spend approximately 32 hours per week at their placement and attend a weekly classroom seminar.  Students receive 10 credits for their placement work (pass/fail) and 3 credits for the seminar (graded). (With Director’s permission of the instructor, 11 credits (8 clinical credits, pass/fail, 3 classroom credits, graded).

Students and the Director may select the placement from a pre-existing pool of opportunities that includes diverse subject areas (labor, civil rights, environmental, business law, etc.) and diverse settings (government, law firms, public interest groups, in-house counsel, judicial clerkships, etc.)  Students may also obtain their own placements, subject to screening and approval of the Director.  In Fall 2014, up to five students may select a placement in Washington, DC and will participate in the special SiP: DC Seminar.

In class, students analyze the lawyering process through readings, discussion, and student presentations.  Students will also keep a weekly journal.  The Director monitors individual placements to ensure the supervising attorney is providing a significant educational experience including feedback on work product, planned work assignments, exposure to the various aspects of lawyering, and mini-lectures.

There are no formal prerequisites.  Students are strongly encouraged to take Professional Responsibility either prior to or simultaneously with SiP.  Students with a GPA of 2.5 or below require special permission of the Director and Dean for Students prior to enrollment because of concern that they cannot afford to miss a semester of classes.

There is no final exam.  The seminar grade is based on evaluation of written and oral performance on assignments, including a final paper.  The placement P/F based on evaluation of fieldwork.  The Seminar portion of SiP satisfies the upper-level writing requirements.  Enrollment is limited to 12 students per section, selected by lottery. 

Semester in Practice: International Human Rights
This course offers a unique opportunity to work on-site during the Spring semester at an international human rights organization or an immigration law organization or firm.  The course is designed to provide students with real-world experience and critical insight into international legal institutions, and to prepare them for international legal practice, with special emphasis on human rights, migration, and other public interest-oriented arenas.

Human Rights Track

On this track, Students will work (in the U.S. or abroad) with international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) such as Human Rights First, Amnesty International, and the Jesuit Refugee Service or with such institutions as the ICTY (International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia), the International Criminal Court, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.  Typical work will include research and writing about legal human rights issues, investigation of pending cases, and, where possible, representation of clients before tribunals. 

Business/Immigration Track

This track involves an innovative partnership between Boston College Law School and the world’s leading immigration law firm, Fragomen, Del Rey, Bernsen, and Loewy LLP and its affiliate, Fragomen Global (“Fragomen”). It offers a unique opportunity to work on-site for one semester at one of Fragomen’s locations around the world, including within the U.S.  The course is designed to provide students with real-world experience and critical insight into global business and business immigration practice, and to prepare them for the global legal practice.

Students will have the opportunity to work at U.S. and international Fragomen offices (or co-counsel offices) in locations such as San Jose, Costa Rica, London, U.K., Boston, New York, (and possibly Buenos Aires, Argentina.)  Students may be required to perform all or a combination of the following functions:      

  • Identify legal issues, analyze facts and determine appropriate case strategy;
  • Prepare petitions and applications for nonimmigrant and immigrant status for foreign national employees;
  • Review Government filings with attention to detail and accuracy;
  • Draft complex case matters including support letters, audit responses and Appeals;
  • Draft client memoranda addressing complex legal issues;

Students will generally work full-time at their placements, reporting to professional legal staff within the relevant office.  In addition to supervising the student’s work, staff members will provide feedback on work product and planned work assignments, and provide exposure to various aspects of lawyering in that setting.  Students will maintain journals relating to their research, writing, and observations, and submit them to Prof. Kanstroom and Mr. Scott FitzGerald (Managing Partner at Fragomen) on a weekly basis.

On both tracks, following an intensive training seminar in the Fall and early January, led by Prof. Kanstroom, students will work full-time at their placements (or 4 days per week for 8 credits), reporting to professional legal staff members.  In addition to supervising the students’ work, staff members will provide feedback on work product and planned work assignments, and provide exposure to various aspects of lawyering in that setting.  Students will maintain journals relating to their research, writing and observation, and submit them to Prof. Kanstroom on a weekly basis.  The journals and related matters will be discussed in various fora. Students will also prepare an independent research paper, of at least [20] pages in length, on a topic related to their placement.  Research for the paper will be supervised both by on-site staff and Prof. Kanstroom.

Students may receive 13 credits for the semester, of which 10 pass/fail credits are allocated for their placement work, and 3 graded credits for the seminar, journals and research project collectively.  With Prof. Kanstroom’s permission, students may enroll for 11 credits (8 clinical credits, pass/fail; 3 classroom credits, graded).

There is no final examination; evaluation will be based on written and oral performance on-site and in the seminar, journals and the written research project.  Enrollment is by application and permission of Prof. Kanstroom.  There are no pre-requisites, though preference will be given to students who have taken Human Rights Law, Immigration Law or similar courses.  Students may suggest possible placements as part of their application process, though all placements will have to be approved by Prof. Kanstroom.  Applicants will be interviewed.  A maximum of 10 students will be selected to participate.

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