What are Your Responsibilities as a Placement Supervisor?
Placement Site will appoint one attorney to be responsible for the supervision and activities of the extern. This supervisor must provide the law school with a current resume.
Placement Site’s supervising attorney and student must work together on-site in the same place of business that is not a private residence; and ensure the student has a designated workspace and access to the tools (e.g., telephone, computer, library) and support reasonably necessary to complete their assignments. Note: the pandemic-related exception to the on-site requirement has been extended through the Fall 2021 semester.
Placement Site’s supervising lawyer must be available as necessary for regular consultation with the student. At a minimum, the supervisor must meet with the student at least once a week to discuss assignments, provide feedback and make suggestions.
Placement Site’s supervising lawyer should ensure that the student is given a variety of meaningful and interesting work assignments. When the first draft of any work is completed, the supervisor (or the lawyer in charge of the project) should give the student feedback as to the adequacy of the research, mastery of relevant facts, accuracy, style, clarity and persuasive content. The student should be required to edit his or her work as many times as necessary to achieve a product that meets the supervisor's own standards of performance.
If the lawyer giving the critique is not the supervising lawyer, the supervising lawyer should be informed as to the character of the critique given.
Student assignments should be similar to those given to lawyers working at the agency– assignments should not be clerical in nature. (Of course, all students should be fully supervised and certified, as appropriate, under student practice rules.) Assignments could include document drafting, preparation of pleadings, legal research, preparation of legal memoranda, fact investigation and development, negotiation with and on behalf of clients, client and witness interviewing, participation in conferences with outside parties, and observation of meetings, hearings or court proceedings.
Whenever possible, the supervisor should choose assignments that will permit the students to be involved in a matter from its inception to its final disposition. Every effort should be made to include students in the strategic decision-making process concerning matters on which the students are working.
Observation assignments such as going to court or meeting a client are encouraged but should generally take place in conjunction with work assignments. Students should also be given an opportunity to develop their communication skills by encouraging oral presentations to clients, to the supervising lawyer, or during staff meetings.
Placement Site’s supervising attorney must meet, more formally, with the student at the mid-point of the academic term to evaluate the externship and file a mid-term report with the law school. The supervisor must also file a final evaluation of the student's work at the end of the term. (Forms for these evaluations are provided by the school.) It is important that these evaluations are returned promptly.