In fieldwork practicum courses, students participate in weekly seminars and perform fieldwork at outside organizations. This fieldwork practicum course will provide students with an appreciation of the work that lawyers do in corporate and non-profit organization legal departments. Students will participate in a two hour/week seminar and do approximately 10 hours of fieldwork each week in the legal department of a for profit or non-profit corporation in the Washington, D.C. area.
SEMINAR: The two-credit, graded, seminar portion of the practicum will focus on the competencies that lawyers need to be successful in corporate legal departments, how corporate clients make use of the work of their lawyers, how business considerations shape the work that lawyers perform, and the major legal issues with which various companies must contend. It also will prompt students to develop sensitivity to the constituencies outside the corporation on which a company’s activities may have an impact. Classes will include discussion of assigned readings, problem-solving exercises on issues set in the corporate legal department context, and discussions of students’ placement experiences. Students will be assigned a mid-term paper on a subject relating to in-house law department practice, and will make a presentation at the end of the semester on a topic of their choosing that relates to the student’s fieldwork and/or areas discussed during the seminary portion of the course. Grades will be based on class participation, the mid-term paper, and the final presentation.
FIELDWORK: In the two-credit, mandatory pass-fail, fieldwork portion of the practicum, students will work under supervision for approximately 10 hours each week in the legal department of a corporation in the Washington, D.C. area. Please note that due to the nature of the work, some periods will be busier than others and there may be times when students will need to work more than 10 hours in a given week.
Students will be responsible for paying their own transportation to/from their fieldwork location.
This practicum is designed to teach the practical skills needed by lawyers practicing in the general counsel’s office of an organization. While such a lawyer will rely on training received in law school that is applicable to lawyers wherever they may practice, the role of the in-house lawyer is different from that of the private practice lawyer for a number of reasons, including that the in-house lawyer is an employee of the client, may be looked to for both legal compliance and business promotion services, will be interacting daily with numerous other employees of the organization, and may often not have the luxury of time to prepare carefully researched answers to difficult legal questions.
The course will teach the skills described in the syllabus topics through weekly seminar discussions, in-class simulations of tasks and situations facing in-house counsel, experiential learning from students’ field assignments with local business and non-profit organizations, and in-class discussions of students’ field work experiences.