Every semester, students at the College of Law seek out real-world experiences that will allow them to apply their classroom knowledge. One of the most effective ways for students to find these experiences is through the field placement program. The field placement program gives students the opportunity to work in the legal settings where they can gain valuable practical experience, such as the Iowa Attorney General’s office or the Iowa City public defender’s office.
Field placements allow students to receive academic credit for uncompensated work in a supervised position. Students can work at a wide variety of local, national, or international organizations, from a non-profit charity in Iowa City to a non-governmental organization on the other side of the world. The College of Law offers many pre-approved positions, and students also have the option of seeking out a position on their own that suits the student’s particular goals. In addition, students may participate in a for-credit field placement during the summer.
Students who participate in the field placement program take a course with Professor June Tai or another faculty supervisor that runs concurrent with the work experience. As part of the course, students reflect on their experiences and develop practical legal and workplace skills. In her class, Professor Tai explained, she’s “looking for a diversity of experiences and skills that students are developing” in their chosen field placement. Students in the course write reflection papers throughout the semester, in addition to setting goals that they want to achieve in the course of their placement. Hannah Shirey, a 2L who completed a summer field placement in Judge Darrow’s chambers, said the course “made me reflect on what I was learning in my placement because I was talking with other students who were taking different field placements.”
This spring, there are numerous field placements that offer experiences in the business and innovation sectors. The University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics (UIHC) will be offering a placement for law students who are rising 3Ls or are pursuing a joint degree in MPH/HMP. Students participating in this field placement will work with the UIHC’s Office of the Associate Vice President for Legal Affairs. The University of Iowa Research Foundation is also looking for students with a technical background to work on patent prosecution projects. Students interested in innovation and business law should also consider a position in a judge’s chambers, as it will give the students an opportunity to see how disputes play out in the courtroom.
While each field placement gives students the chance to work in a particular legal field, Professor Tai notes that the end goal is “to develop legal skills.” The skills students gain in any field placement are transferable to many fields and can be invaluable, whether students end up in patent prosecution, criminal defense, or corporate transactions. “I enjoyed seeing the value of what I had been learning in the classroom and how it was applied in practice,” said Shirey about her experience.
The list of field placements for Spring 2017 can be found below and under the OCI tab on Symplicity. Interested students should apply through the field placement’s Symplicity page by October 17.