developing practical skills for the legal profession: clinics, externships and transactional practice
To learn the law, you need to practice the law. Thatâ€™s why Boston University School of Law offers a vast selection of clinics, externships and semester-in-practice placements, where you gain real-world legal experience in courtrooms, law firms, nonprofit organizations, companies and government agencies. It is also the reason for our Transactional Law Program, where you learn contract drafting, transaction analysis and negotiation, and other skills required of transactional practitioners.
Cover Photo: Michael Greenwald (â€™10), who completed a semester-in-practice at the U.S. Treasury Department in Washington, D.C., now works there full-time as an attorney in the Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence.
One of the first law schools in the nation to establish clinical programs supervised by full-time faculty, BU Law has consistently expanded its hands-on learning opportunities to provide “real-life” training to students with myriad legal interests and career goals. Most recently, BU Law introduced a Transactional Law program to provide students with the core skills needed to embark on a transactional practice career. At BU Law, you will benefit from attentive mentoring by supervising faculty, substantive classroom learning that complements your field experience and the ability to create the ideal learning experience to advance your professional and personal goals. More than 250 students participate annually in BU Law’s clinics, externships and legislative and semester-in-practice programs, acquiring the tangible skills that the modern legal profession requires. Every student who wants to participate in a clinical program gets the opportunity. Many students participate in more than one clinic or externship under attorney supervision.
As a BU Law student, you could be: Litigating real criminal cases in Boston’s courtrooms; Grappling with human rights issues at the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Geneva, Switzerland;
Researching and writing bench memoranda and draft decisions for state and federal judges; Representing asylum seekers facing deportation;
Providing legal guidance to corporations and nonprofits in a range of industries;
Defending victims of international human trafficking; and
Drafting legislation at the Massachusetts State House;
Delving into the inner workings of the federal government in Washington, D.C.
Handling employment claims of workplace discrimination and compensation denial;
clinics whether you are interested in civil or criminal law, bu law offers a diverse range of clinics where you can pursue your personal interests in the law while learning practical lawyering skills in actual legal settings. you will work on real cases, representing real clients in the greater boston area. criminal clinical program Whether representing clients charged with crimes in Boston Municipal and Juvenile Courts or prosecuting defendants in criminal cases in Quincy District Court, you can expect to conduct investigations to formulate trial strategy, file pre-trial motions, participate in plea bargaining, try cases before judges and make sentencing arguments.
You can choose among BU Law’s three civil litigation clinics: • Housing, Employment, Family and Disability Clinic • Asylum & Human Rights Clinic • Employment Rights Clinic
human trafficking clinic
In Boston Immigration Court, you can represent human trafficking victims civil litigation program facing deportation and/or applying for a In partnership with Greater Boston Legal T-visa (a special form of immigration Services and under the supervision of relief for trafficking survivors). You can BU Law faculty, you can work on a wide also collaborate with law enforcement, array of civil litigation matters: representing government officials, non-government tenants in housing court, claimants in organizations, and trafficking survivors unemployment compensation appeals, to identify solutions to combat this parties in divorce and custody proceedings widespread and serious human rights in probate court, claimants in Social violation. Security disability hearings, asylum seekers in deportation hearings, individuals immigration detention clinic seeking restraining orders and employees At detention facilities, you can provide intake alleging workplace discrimination. and assistance to individuals in immigration custody. You may also provide them with limited representation in bond proceedings before the Boston Immigration Court.
“in a serious juvenile delinquency prosecution, i saw how our client’s previous record influenced everyone’s perceptions, even though there was little or no concrete evidence against him in the present case. that taught me the critical importance of keeping an open mind and working to discover the full, unbiased facts.”
jared cohen, class of 2013
criminal law clinic: boston municipal court, boston juvenile court, quincy district court (2l spring, 3l fall) In his second semester in the Criminal Law Clinic, Jared Cohen functioned as a defense attorney with full responsibility for representing clients in criminal cases. Drawing on all the resources from his clinical coursework, Cohen learned to be a keen advocate for his clients —which could require vastly different skills and strategies in different circumstances. Cohen’s experience in the Criminal Law Clinic helped him hone his courtroom skills and explore a potential career path as a prosecutor. He especially appreciated the opportunity to work in three different courts as a junior member of the clinic—for defendants in Boston Municipal and Juvenile Courts, and for the prosecution in Quincy District Court—before settling on defense work in Boston during his senior semester. Cohen says that his first valuable learning experience was seeing how courts really work on a daily basis. The criminal litigation process can be tortuous, and personalities and instinctive biases can often influence outcomes. He cites one case in which a young man was facing charges of assault and battery with a deadly weapon. While the defendant had an extensive record involving serious crimes and had spent time in a juvenile detention facility, the evidence for this offense seemed to clearly exonerate him. Yet it took months of investigation, discovery, in-court compliance dates, and attempts to approach the government before Cohen and his senior colleague were finally able to persuade an Assistant District Attorney to review the relevant evidence and dismiss the case.
erin hogan, class of 2013
civil litigation: asylum & human rights clinic (2l) While teaching English and working at a legal clinic in Madagascar as a Peace Corps volunteer, Erin Hogan witnessed a military coup in that island nation. Her personal experience with trying to help people living in an unstable country convinced her of the importance of the law: she applied to BU Law before returning to the United States. Hogan participated in the Asylum & Human Rights Clinic, where she was responsible for two asylum cases, both involving individuals who had been persecuted in their home countries. In addition to preparing her clients for court, drafting and filing documents and making the cases before an Immigration Court judge, Hogan helped her clients seek medical services and psychological counseling. The clinic also gave Hogan a rare opportunity: in collaboration with Professor Susan Akram and another student, she researched and wrote a stakeholders’ report on Morocco’s treatment of the Sahrawi people in Western Sahara. What’s more, she traveled to Geneva to participate in the presentation of the report to the United Nations Human Rights Council for the Universal Periodic Review of Morocco. This transforming experience convinced Hogan to participate in BU Law’s Semesterin-Practice program at the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Geneva, and to pursue a career in immigration and asylum law.
“i gained such strong practical skills from my clinic that i feel very prepared as a lawyer. asylum & human rights 45 was the perfect clinic for me. i’ve always been drawn to human rights, but i don’t think i would have discovered immigration and refugee work without this experience.”
“working on a lengthy case from beginning to end and handling every step of the process was an amazing and rare experience. and because my clinical work took place alongside my coursework, i could implement what i was learning in class immediately and get feedback both in the classroom and in court.”
stephanie mills, class of 2013
civil litigation: housing, employment, family and disability clinic (2l) Stephanie Mills arrived at BU Law committed to helping victims of domestic violence, while still pursuing a career at a law firm practicing civil litigation. Her work in the Housing, Employment, Family and Disability Clinic gave her the skills and experience to land the perfect job—as a litigator at a Chicago law firm with an active pro bono program in domestic violence. Knowing that Mills had volunteered at the Domestic Violence Institute at BU-affiliated Boston Medical Center during her first year of law school, Professor Constance Browne, her clinical supervising attorney, quickly identified a divorce case involving domestic violence as one that would both draw on Mills’s experience and help her develop important client counseling and litigation skills. Mills represented the wife in the case, which became increasingly complex. She delivered several oral arguments at hearings in front of the judge, secured the appointment of a guardian ad litem to represent the children’s interests, prepared and responded to discovery requests, participated in settlement discussions, and drafted a settlement agreement. Mills handled the case through both semesters and even saw it through to completion after her clinic ended, securing a favorable settlement for her client on the eve of trial. Mills credits her coursework in trial advocacy for teaching her how to strategize about the trajectory of a case as well as the practical skills of interviewing clients, drafting documents, and speaking in court. And she credits her time in the courtroom and her work with her domestic violence case for giving her the confidence to succeed in a career in litigation.
The John Joseph Moakley Courthouse, about 4 miles from BU Law, faces Boston Harbor in the city’s new Seaport District.
externships if you participate in an externship, you will attend a weekly seminar and work 12 to 20 hours per week in a public interest organization, government agency, judicial chambers of a state or federal judge, or in-house legal department. you may deal with legal issues that range from affordable housing to health law, from criminal prosecution to government regulation. externship options • Government Lawyering Externship Program • Legal Externship Program Learn about being a government lawyer Work at a range of organizations in Boston, through placements in such offices as the such as WGBH (Boston’s public television U.S. Attorney’s Office, the Massachusetts and radio station), BU’s General Counsel’s Attorney General’s Office and other federal Office, and the Federal Reserve Bank. and state agencies in Boston. • Affordable Housing Externship Program Intern at a state, local or nonprofit community development organization and experience how various laws, tools and programs come together to address the challenge of providing affordable housing and sustainable community development. • Community Courts Work on pending cases and projects relating to the long-term operation of community courts, as you are mentored by experienced judges sitting in Massachusetts district, probate, juvenile and housing courts in and around Boston.
• Health Law Externship Program Immerse yourself in the legal issues facing health care providers, biotech firms or health advocacy nonprofits in Boston. • Judicial Externship Program Intern at a trial or appellate court in the Massachusetts or federal court system and explore issues related to the roles of the judge and the judicial intern. • Independent Proposal Externship Receive credit for an externship pursued in conjunction with an independent study project.
recent placement sites
• Massachusetts Court of Appeals
• Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital
• Massachusetts General Hospital
• Boston Medical Center
• Massachusetts Superior Court
• Boston University General Counsel’s Office
• MassPORT (public authority that oversees Boston’s airports and seaports)
• Brigham and Women’s Hospital • Draper Laboratories • Federal Reserve Bank of Boston • Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office
• New England Organ Bank • Political Asylum/Immigration Representation Project (PAIR) • State Street Bank
• U.S. Attorney’s Office for Massachusetts • U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit • U.S. Department of the Interior • U.S. District Court • U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission • WGBH (public television and radio)
john balla, class of 2013 judicial externship (2l), government lawyering externship (2l) “Working in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, I learned how to spot a bad argument, and my writing improved immensely. I made great professional and personal connections—it was my best law school experience. I received a clerkship with a federal district judge for after graduation in large part because of my experience in the Judicial Externship Program.”
vikki nguyen, class of 2013
legal externship (2l) “Before law school, I worked at a law firm that specializes in venture capital and early-stage companies, and I’m returning when I graduate. My externship with the general counsel of Charles River Ventures was the perfect fit, and it gave me lots of responsibility and excellent mentoring. My supervisor was a role model in many ways, especially how to be a real counselor in working with clients.”
lindsey parker, class of 2013
independent proposal externship (2l) “BU Law’s externship options gave me the flexibility to work in the legal department of the Romney for President campaign during the presidential primary race. My main responsibility was examining various states’ rules for delegate selection. I saw firsthand how difficult it is to run for office, and how important it is to me to be part of a team working toward a common goal.”
semester-in-practice the semester-in-practice option enables you to work full time in a legal setting outside of boston. in the washington, d.c., program, you will work in a government agency and participate in faculty-led seminars. whether you participate in an established program in geneva, switzerland, or atlanta, georgia, or pursue an independent semester-in-practice, you will be supervised by mentors at your placement site and complete reading and writing assignments for bu law faculty. our students have found that the ability to work full time gives them access to highly desirable placements and assignments. program options • Government Lawyering Semester-inPractice at numerous locations in Washington, D.C.
• Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (Los Angeles, CA)
• Human Rights Semester-in-Practice at the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Geneva, Switzerland
• Office of the City Attorney (San Francisco, CA)
• Death Penalty Semester-in-Practice at the Southern Center for Human Rights in Atlanta, GA
• United Nations Development Programme (Washington, D.C.)
• Independent Semester-in-Practice (locations based on student proposals)
recent placement sites • American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts (Northampton, MA) • California State Water Resources Control Board (Sacramento, CA) • Federal Trade Commission (Seattle, WA) • Judge Karen Caldwell (Lexington, KY) 8 9
• Manhattan District Attorney’s Office (New York, NY)
• Reveille Productions (Los Angeles, CA) • Sony Entertainment (New York, NY)
• U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (Washington, D.C.) • U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division (Washington, D.C.) • U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Immigration Litigation (Washington, D.C.) • U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (New York, NY) • U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee (Washington, D.C.)
“the semester-in-practice is a real capstone to a bu legal education. we work closely with students to help them find the right placements that will enrich their training and help them succeed as lawyers. we find that employers welcome our students, both because of bu law’s reputation, and because they can work full time. students like michael lezaja have found extraordinary opportunities for growth and career advancement.”
sean j. kealy, clinical associate professor of law and director of government lawyering externship program
michael lezaja, class of 2012
clerk, u.s. court of federal claims, washington, d.c. (2012-2013) semester-in-practice at u.s. department of justice, division of antitrust (3l)
An alumnus of Georgetown with an interest in politics and economics, Michael Lezaja was a paralegal at the Federal Trade Commission before law school and always considered returning to the nation’s capital. The Semester-in-Practice, which he pursued during his final semester, was an ideal opportunity. After discussing options with Professor Sean Kealy, Lezaja set his sights on the Department of Justice. His placement was in the National Criminal Enforcement Section of the DOJ’s Antitrust Division, which handles international criminal conspiracies, primarily involving price fixing. In his position, Lezaja was immersed in legal research and writing for cases being prosecuted in district courts all over the country. “The legal writing program at BU Law is excellent, but the demands of day-in, day-out legal writing gave me much-needed practice,” he says. “I think that because I was working full time, I was given better assignments and was able to work more collaboratively with the DOJ staff attorneys.” Lezaja, who participated in staff meetings and trainings on substantive areas of antitrust law, stresses how important it was for him to simply observe lawyers and their interactions with witnesses and one another, and notes that his mentors gave him valuable advice about preparing for his clerkship.
legislative programs our legislative programs give you the chance to understand the legislative process at a deeper level by seeing firsthand how laws are drafted, debated, passed and interpreted. students in these programs have made real contributions to actual legislation. in both programs, you will work 12 to 20 hours per week in the field and participate in faculty-led seminars. In the American Legislative Practice program, you can choose to work with legislators at the Massachusetts State House, or to review and draft legislation in-house at BU Law in partnership with legislators, government agencies and nonprofit advocacy organizations. Massachusetts is an excellent site for learning about lawmaking because it has an active, full-time legislature known for taking up controversial measures that in recent years have included gay marriage, stem cell research and universal health care.
The Africa i-Parliaments option enables you to help strengthen African democracies, working remotely from Boston to draft evidence-based legislation and build capacity in the African Parliaments Knowledge Network. Students have worked on a wide range of legislation; two examples are a petroleum bill in Uganda and an electric bill in Liberia.
The historic Massachusetts Statehouse (above right and below) is about 2.5 miles from BU Law, with a direct subway connection.
“when i was doing the research for my report on the anti-human trafficking bill, i grasped the true importance of the legislation—its effect on real people’s lives. i’m glad i could make a difference in the final law, which i hope will deter this crime in the future.”
michael ayzen, class of 2011
staff attorney, committee for public counsel services, springfield, massachusetts. american legislative practice in-house clinic (3l) When Mike Ayzen began the American Legislative Practice Program, he thought he could help get an anti-human trafficking bill out of committee. Little did he realize that he would do that and much more. Ayzen identified an additional horrific dimension to the practice of human trafficking. His contribution became part of Massachusetts law when Governor Deval Patrick signed the bill a few months after Ayzen’s graduation. Beginning his work by conferring with the staff of Senator Mark Montigny, the author of the legislation, Ayzen realized that the language about sentencing provisions needed to be more specific. He analyzed the bill, comparing it with similar legislation in California and New York, and called attention to new issues. In this process, Ayzen realized that the bill covered human trafficking only for the purposes of prostitution and labor—but not for selling organs or body parts. This addition was his unique contribution to the bill, and to the eventual law. By the time of the signing, BU Law student Tashena Nobrega was interning for Senator Montigny and helped the conference committee hammer out the final language. Since graduation, Ayzen has been a staff attorney for the public defender in Springfield. He says that his Legislative Program work has helped him better understand and work with new legislation that affects his clients.
transactional law program bu law’s transactional law program addresses an important need in today’s legal environment. law firms expect their new hires—from the time they start practicing—to increasingly contribute in a meaningful way to the representation of clients. to be prepared, you need a foundational set of practice skills that you can apply on your first day on the job. The principal goal of our Transactional Law Program is to provide these skills to students seeking a career in transactional practice and to those who will need these skills at some point in their careers, regardless of the specific area of legal practice they pursue.
You will gain valuable proficiency in the drafting, analysis and negotiation of contracts, and in various other practice skills required of transactional practitioners. You may pursue a concentration in transactional practice, or take a few courses in the program. Either way, you will have access to wide-ranging courses and will learn key practice skills taught by our faculty and seasoned transactional practitioners.
professor of the practice of law director, transactional law program Kent Coit joined the BU Law faculty after retiring as a partner in the Boston office of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP, where he practiced in the firm’s Mergers & Acquisitions Department for nearly 30 years. In addition to his wealth of experience in transactional practice, Coit has a passion for teaching and mentoring law students and young lawyers. He directed Skadden’s Summer Associate M&A Training Program in Boston, for which he designed innovative transaction simulations. He also served as attorney development partner, responsible for developing and implementing an associate mentoring program, and was an instructor in various associate training programs.
“clients want their attorneys to be business-savvy and provide sound business, as well as legal, judgment and advice. our transactional law program helps bridge the gap between what students learn in traditional law school classes and what they face when they enter the legal practice arena.”
If you want a successful start to your legal career, you need to develop practical lawyering skills and a professional network before you graduate from law school. Employers expect you to be ready on day one to work with clients, draft and analyze contracts, file briefs, and take on the professional responsibilities that attorneys face in the real world. At BU Law, you will experience the real demands of the legal profession by participating in our clinics, externships and transactional practice program. You will learn from experienced practitioners, and you will build your professional network. You will literally begin your career at BU Law.
The student-to-faculty ratio in BU Law’s clinical programs is between 5:1 and 8:1. BU Law’s clinical supervisors average 20 years of experience per instructor. The head of the Transactional Practice program has nearly 30 years of professional experience in mergers and acquisitions.
design kor group, Boston
Boston provides a ready-made laboratory for hands-on training in a range of important legal institutions, including federal and state courts, state legislatures and federal, state and municipal agencies.
With 20,000 alumni across the U.S. and abroad, BU Law students can tap into a powerful alumni network for clinical placements and future career opportunities. The National Law Journal ranks BU Law #21 based on the number of graduates working in the nation’s largest law firms. Each year, hundreds of law firms, government agencies, public interest organizations and corporations from all regions of the U.S. connect with BU Law to recruit its students.
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Published on Apr 4, 2013
In 1965, Boston University School of Law established the Voluntary Defenders Project, one of the first clinical programs in the United State...