1. COURSE DESCRIPTION
The Judicial Practicum is an experiential-learning course in which students in the part-time division are placed in distance field placements with members of the judiciary and also attend an accompanying seminar class at the law school. The students work under the supervision of both a faculty supervisor at the law school and a field supervisor at the placement site. Working remotely, students in the course telecommute to perform research and other related writing assignments for the judges with whom they are placed. As their schedules permit, students will be encouraged and permitted to attend courtroom proceedings conducted by the judges for whom they are working. Students receive three credit hours upon satisfactory completion of the course requirements.
This course affords part-time students an opportunity that they would not otherwise get to do authentic legal work. In addition, the students (and Bowen) will be providing a valuable service to Arkansas by providing research support in areas of the state where no such support would otherwise be available.
2. GOALS OF THE JUDICIAL PRACTICUM COURSE
At the end of the Judicial Practicum course, students will be able to:
• Apply their classroom learning to “real-life” practice situations
• Conduct legal research effectively and efficiently
• Write an objective bench memoranda for a judge
• Engage effectively in the skill of self-reflection
• Evaluate whether they might want to serve as a judge in the future.
3. FACULTY SUPERVISORS
To serve as a faculty supervisor for the Judicial Practicum course, an individual must meet or exceed all of the UALR Bowen School of Law’s hiring qualifications for adjunct instructors and have relevant work experience in the practice area of the practicum. In addition, prior to serving as a faculty supervisor, an individual must attend a training session conducted by the Director of Externship Programs and the training session for adjunct instructors that the Dean of the Law School periodically conducts.
4. FIELD SUPERVISORS
4.1. Selection in General. The faculty supervisor will select appropriate field supervisors, who must be either a judge or a law clerk to a judge. The faculty supervisor shall base selection on the individual’s willingness to provide quality instruction to the law student, the availability of the individual to meet with the student, the individual’s professional reputation in the community, and past evaluations of the supervisor. In addition, all field supervisors must be willing to work with and supervise students on a remote basis, with students performing their assignments outside of the field supervisor’s office and likely outside of typical working hours (i.e., nights and weekends). All field supervisors must agree to abide by the course requirements for the Judicial Practicum.
4.2. Weekly Meeting Between Field Supervisor and Student. Because students in the Judicial Practicum course work remotely, it is important that they have regular and interactive communication with their field supervisors. Accordingly, field supervisors must meet with their students at least once per week for a minimum of 20 minutes via a distance technology that allows for synchronous, visual communication, such as Skype, Face Time, Google Hangout, or another form of videoconference. In addition, in most instances it is anticipated that students and their field supervisors will meet in person at least one or two times during the semester.
4.3. Training for Field Supervisors. All field supervisors must attend a pre-placement training conducted by the faculty supervisor.
4.4. Evaluation. The faculty supervisor will conduct periodic reviews of each field supervisor to ensure compliance with the goals and rules of the Judicial Practicum course. Students in the Judicial Practicum course shall complete a written evaluation of their field supervisor and their faculty supervisor.
4.5. Communication. The faculty supervisor shall be in frequent communication with all field supervisors, which may also include a site visit.
5. APPLICATION PROCESS
5.1. Student Eligibility. To be eligible to participate in the Judicial Practicum course, students must have completed at least 30 academic law school credit hours. Students with paid or unpaid legal work responsibilities are not eligible for judicial practicum positions.
5.2. Enrollment Limitation. Enrollment in the Judicial Practicum course is limited to students in the part-time division.
5.3. Application Form. Students interested in the Judicial Practicum course shall apply directly to the faculty supervisor, pursuant to an application process created and implemented by the faculty supervisor. The application process shall occur during the semester immediately preceding the semester for which the student seeks a placement.
5.4. Acceptance. Once the faculty supervisor accepts a student into a placement, the faculty supervisor shall notify the Registrar’s office of the term the student is participating in the placement.
6. AVAILABLE CREDIT
6.1. Academic Credit. Students who satisfactorily complete the Judicial Practicum course shall receive three academic credits on a graded basis.
6.2. Maximum Credit Limit. A student may not receive more than one Judicial Practicum placement for a total of three practicum credits.
7. GRADING CRITERIA
7.1. Required Hours of Work. A student enrolled in the Judicial Practicum course must complete 100 hours of work for the placement site during the academic term the student is registered for the course. In conjunction with their field supervisors, students are expected to set a schedule pursuant to which they will work ten hours per week.
7.2. Weekly Journal Assignments. Each student shall complete one informal “journal writing” assignment per week. The journal shall be two pages (discussing the type of work the student is doing, reflections about the student’s work, issues the student is facing, etc.) for each week of the placement. All journal entries must adhere to the confidentiality requirements of the office in which the student is working. All journal entries must be submitted weekly to the faculty supervisor.
7.3. Weekly Seminar Class. Each student must complete the requirements of the weekly, one-hour seminar class, as determined by the faculty supervisor.
7.4. Weekly Timesheets. Students must complete and submit to the faculty supervisor a timesheet for each work week (using the approved Student Timesheet form). The timesheet should include a written description of the specific tasks performed, the nature and extent of the contact with the field supervisor, and the time spent. It must not, however, provide any identifying information about the client or cases, confidential information, or information that might violate the attorney client privilege.
7.5. Writing Sample. Each student shall submit to the faculty supervisor a sample of the written work he or she produced during the placement. This work product will not satisfy the upper level writing requirement. All writing samples must adhere to the confidentiality requirements of the office in which the student is working.
7.6. Evaluation by the Student. By a deadline designated by the faculty supervisor, each student must complete and deliver to the faculty supervisor the student’s evaluation of the placement and the field supervisor (on the approved Student Evaluation Form).
7.7. Evaluation by the Field Supervisor. The field supervisor will evaluate the student at the conclusion of the placement based on the supervisor’s evaluation of the student’s:
• research ability
• legal analytical skills
• intellectual capacity and creativity
• writing skills
• oral expression
• common sense, judgment and ability to set priorities
• initiative and responsibility
• ability to relate well and effectively with clients and co workers
• enthusiasm, temperament, office demeanor and behavior.
7.8. Grading and Performance.
7.8.1. Performance Standards. The faculty supervisor and the field supervisor will develop specific performance standards in advance of each placement and communicate those standards to the students.
7.8.2. Course Grades. A student’s grade in the Judicial Practicum course is based on a positive overall evaluation by the field supervisor and the student’s performance on the following assignments, as evaluated by the faculty supervisor pursuant to a criterion-referenced grading system that uses rubrics:
• Satisfactory completion of the required hours of work for the placement site;
• Satisfactory completion of the writing sample;
• Satisfactory completion of all journal and essay assignments;
• Satisfactory completion of class participation and attendance requirements for the seminar class;
• Satisfactory completion of individual meeting assignments; and
• Satisfactory completion of the timesheet and placement evaluation requirements.
8. MISCELLANEOUS RULES APPLICABLE TO ALL PLACEMENTS
8.1. Placements with Family Members Prohibited. To ensure the educational integrity of the Judicial Practicum course, a student may not participate in a placement where a family member will supervise the student at any time.
8.2. Non-Payment Rule. All placements in the Judicial Practicum course are non-paying, meaning students cannot receive payment in return for their work.
8.3. Division of Work Prohibited. Students cannot divide their time between placement work and paid work by, for example, working mornings without pay for placement credit and afternoons for pay. However, after a student has finished all requirements for the Judicial Practicum course, the student may continue to work for the field supervisor for pay if the student receives an offer to do so.