Experiential Learning Opportunities
Students who gain work experience while in law school are more likely to obtain jobs upon graduation. Not only do they better understand the information being presented in the classroom, they also learn critical skills, and meet attorneys in areas in which they may want to practice. There are numerous ways to gain work experience, listed below, and most students utilize more than one.
Paid employment—There are paid employment opportunities available throughout the legal community for students to gain work experience while receiving assistance in funding their legal education. Students can search for paid employment through the Placement Office and Symplicity, or through outside methods.
Externships—Florida State Law offers an extensive clinical externship program, which allows students to earn academic credit while gaining work experience. There are opportunities available in government agencies, judicial settings, State Attorney Offices, Public Defender Offices, Legal Aid, and public interest offices.
Public Interest Law Center—The Public Interest Law Center is essentially a student law firm that represents indigent clients with various types of legal needs. There are three clinics within the Public Interest Law Center: the Children’s Advocacy Center Clinic, the Family Law Clinic, and the Medical Legal Partnership Clinic. Students are given the opportunity to operate as an attorney with the primary responsibility for cases, and receive up to six credits for the spring and fall semesters, and three credits for the summer semester.
Research Internship—Up to two academic credits are available for students engaging in a research internship. A research internship is an opportunity for students to explore an area of special legal interest based on a substantial research and writing effort (a research paper or legal memoranda, briefs, etc.), and 120 hours of work experience in an actual practice setting. The research internship gives students the opportunity to practice in a broad range of legal settings and further develop research and writing skills.
Pro Bono Volunteer—All Florida State law students are required to perform a minimum of 20 hours of pro bono legal work during their second or third year of law school, and many students do more. Pro bono legal work is defined as “work on behalf of indigent individuals or other uncompensated legal work in conjunction with an individual lawyer, law firm or organization on behalf of a disadvantaged minority, the victims of racial, sexual, other forms of discrimination, those denied human and civil rights, or other work on behalf of the public interest.” Pro bono legal work can be an excellent opportunity to gain work experience and network with legal professionals.
Volunteer—Many opportunities to gain work experience are unpaid. Though an opportunity may be unpaid, it still may offer a meaningful experience and the opportunity to network with legal professionals. Volunteer opportunities are frequently posted to Symplicity.