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1.12 Independent Study/Teaching Assistantships/Law Review


Independent Study

To meet the credit requirements for graduation a student, with the permission of the Academic Dean, may take up to 3 credit-hours of independent, faculty-supervised study. (A student may take fewer than 3 credit hours of Independent Study at a time and may do so more than once, as long as the total number of Independent Study credit hours during the student’s tenure at the Law School is not more than 3 or meets the requirements outlined below.) A student may also register for more than 3 credits of Independent Study, if the credits are not used to meet the credit requirements for graduation.

In exceptional circumstances, the student may, with the permission of the Academic Dean, register for up to 3 additional hours of Independent Study credits to meet the credit requirements for graduation. Exceptional circumstances exist when the student has made satisfactory progress in the curriculum, taking advantage of the recommended elective course offerings, and when additional Independent Study credits will enhance the student’s education.

A judicial clerkship, internship, or a law office clerkship does not satisfy the requirements of an Independent Study. However, these experiences may form the basis of further research for an independent project. This research and writing must be done under direct faculty supervision in order to gain Independent Study credit. Generally, adjunct professors may not serve as supervisors for Independent Student Credit. However, exceptions to this policy may be permitted at the discretion of Academic Affairs upon the showing of exceptional circumstances. In April 2017, the faculty adopted the following policy regarding Independent Study credits for internship placements:

A. Course-Linked Placements – 1 credit

Duration of placement: 7-8 weeks
Time in placement: 7-8 hours a week either in one full day or two half days with option for student to complete some work off site, if permitted by placement supervisor; student should complete a total of approximately 42.5 hours of combined faculty-directed and independent work related to their placement project.

Faculty Responsibilities:

  • Initial faculty contact with placement supervisor; guidelines provided

  • Initial faculty meeting with students (in a group) to discuss professionalism and deal with supervisor issues, with an assigned reading, if available

  • One faculty check-in with individual students after 3rd week

  • One mid-semester faculty meeting with students in one or more small groups to discuss placement issues (modified Rounds)

  • One telephone or email contact between faculty and each placement supervisor during the last third of the semester

Supervisory Responsibilities:

  • A telephone or email contact between faculty and each placement supervisor at the beginning and during the last third of the semester

  • Supervisor assessment form to be completed by end of semester

Writing Requirements:

  • The student must produce placement-related written work product (research, memo), which could include notes or summaries of meetings, depositions, client interviews, etc. The work product should involve some significant engagement with issues of law or fact, and should be approximately 10 pages in length.

The student may be asked to complete additional writing requirements, including:

a) weekly journal entry (a paragraph or two documenting what student did each week) with longer reflection (e.g., 4-6 pages) at the end of the semester in response to several prompts, including reflection on course/placement interface, what each contributed to the other in terms of student learning, habits of work and mind needed to succeed at the placement, identifying a lawyering lesson learned, OR

b) 3 short (e.g., 1-2 pages) reflection essays in response to a specific prompt and longer reflection (e.g., 4-6 pages) at end of semester in response to several prompts, as in (a) above

A. Independent Study: Placement-Linked Practicum – 1-3 credits*

Duration of placement: 11-12 weeks during fall and spring semesters (or 8-10 weeks during summer session).

Time in placement: 7-8 hours a week either in one full day or two half days with option for student to complete some work off-site, if permitted by placement supervisor. The student should complete a total of approximately 42.5 hours of combined faculty-directed and independent work per credit related to the Independent Study project.

Faculty Responsibilities:

  • Initial faculty contact with placement supervisor; guidelines provided

  • Initial faculty meeting with student(s) (in a group if more than one) to discuss professionalism and dealing with supervisor issues, with an assigned reading, if available

  • Two faculty check-ins with individual students, for example, one after 3rd week and one after 7th week, as needed

  • One telephone or email contact between faculty and each placement supervisor during the last third of the semester to discuss student performance

  • Review an outline, initial and final draft of writing product and provide significant feedback to student on the outline and draft

  • Faculty would ordinarily not supervise more than 2 students per semester but are free to supervise more than two independent studies in a semester.

Supervisory Responsibilities:

  • A telephone or email contact between faculty and each placement supervisor at the beginning and during the last third of the semester

  • Supervisor assessment form to be completed by end of semester

Writing Requirements:

  • The student must produce a placement-related written work product (research, memo) that could include notes or summaries of meetings, depositions, client interviews, etc. The work product should involve some significant engagement with issues of law or fact, and should be approximately 10 pages in length.

  • The student may be asked to complete additional writing requirements, such as:

    a) weekly short journal entry (a paragraph or two documenting what student did each week) with longer reflection (e.g., 4-5 pages) at the end of the semester in response to several prompts, including reflection on how placement enhanced student’s substantive legal knowledge, habits of work and mind needed to succeed at the placements, identifying a lawyering lesson learned, OR

    b) 6 short (e.g., 1-2 pages) reflection essays in response to a specific prompt and longer reflection (e.g., 4-5 pages) at end of semester in response to several prompts. As there is no linked course, reflections should reference related readings.

Reading Requirement:

  • Reading assignments to complement the placement, to be discussed in written reflections

* Three credits normally would be offered in the summer rather than during the academic year.

C. Independent Study: Directed Research or Other Faculty-Supervised Work - 1-3 credits*

  • Student writes up specific goals of IS and explains how it will contribute to professional development and fill a gap in the student’s knowledge of the law (up to a page) before permission is granted

  • Student and faculty supervisor set schedule for bi-weekly check-ins

  • Particular student requirements may vary depending on the project

  • For research papers, student work would ordinarily include an outline, a draft, and a final product incorporating feedback

  • Student should complete a total of approximately 42.5 hours of combined faculty-directed and independent work per credit related to the independent study project

  • Faculty would ordinarily not supervise more than 2 students per semester but are free to supervise more than two independent studies in a semester.

* Three credits normally would be offered in the summer rather than during the academic year.

Procedure for Registration for Independent Study:

  1. Student obtains a form from the Registrar’s Office.

  2. Student identifies faculty member willing to supervise the student’s work.

  3. The student and teacher fill out the sections on the form entitled “Description of the Project” and “Credit-Hours.”

  4. The student obtains the signature of the Academic Dean.

Note: Students must complete the registration process for this course during the regular registration and add/drop periods for the semester during which they hope to obtain credit for the course.

Teaching Assistantships and Law Review

For requirements and specifications on teaching assistantships and law review, check the current semester course booklet. Teaching Assistantships are available for required courses and the Summer Law Institute only.

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