The Miami Law D.C. Semester in Practice program is an externship program that provides students with an opportunity to learn multiple dimensions of lawyering through integration of real-world practice experience and academic inquiry.
Typically offered in the Fall semester, students do their fieldwork at approved externship placements in Washington, D.C. in a diverse range of litigation, transactional and policy settings.
Under the supervision of a licensed attorney at the externship placement, students learn about a substantive area of law and develop skills required by lawyers such as interviewing, counseling, negotiation, legal analysis, problem-solving, and writing.
Students have an opportunity to function “in-role” as an attorney with all of the corresponding professional and ethical demands. Students have the opportunity to work 255 hours to obtain 6 academic credits or 385 hours to obtain 9 academic credits, at their externship field placement during the semester. A specific work schedule is coordinated directly with a supervising attorney at the externship field placement.
In addition to classes, there are site visits as part of the required course work and can include visits to Capitol Hill and at the Supreme Court of the United States.
The classroom component of the course focuses on educational goals that capitalize on the fact that students are in a real-world practice setting and probes students to reflect upon what it means to be an effective lawyer in the particular practice setting and how to maximize the externship experience. Specifically, the classes offered further these goals:
Development of Professional Identity: Students explore and adjust to the many dimensions of their professional roles as lawyers.
Training in Lawyering Skills: Students develop lawyering skills likely to be used during their externship.
Analysis of Legal Systems and Institutions: Students gain insights into the functioning of the legal system and particular practice areas.
Learning from Experience: Students learn how to engage in self-directed professional growth. Students also learn how to deal with issues that arise during the externship and how to get the most out of the externship experience.
Sample Course Topics
Competence and Confidentiality for the Legal Extern – exploring legal ethics issues that may arise in a legal externship including: interacting with a supervisor and other colleagues, defining the practice of law, professional and personal use of social media and dealing with tensions between legal ethics and personal/professional values.
Relationship-Building in the D.C. Community and Maintaining Relationships - efective professional relationships are critical to successful law practice; students learn strategies to maintain relationships with supervisors, opposing counsel, administrative staff and other professionals.
Meaningful Networking - topics covered include: the importance of relationships over the course of one's legal career, establishing one's professional reputation, and maximizing and maintaining relationships developed during the externship.
- The field placement must be an approved government agency, non-profit organization, or in-house counsel agency located in Washington D.C.
- Agency must provide student with substantive legal experience where students will learn about the area(s) of law practiced at the field placement and provide opportunities to perform legal skills.
- Student must be under the supervision of a licensed attorney at the agency who will provide feedback to the student about his/her/their work.
- The agency supervisor must agree to adhere to the responsibilities and best practices set forth in the University of Miami’s Student-Agency Agreement.
- Miami Law student must be in good academic standing to participate in D.C. Semester in Practice.
- Student must secure their own placement with any government, non-profit or in-house legal counsel agency.
- Student must submit a fully executed Student-Agency Agreement by the start of the semester.
- Student must complete at least 255 work hours by the end of the semester to receive 6 credits or 385 work hours by the end of the semester to receive 9 academic credits.
- Student must submit a weekly timesheet on TWEN.
- Student must submit a Time Certification Form (signed by supervising attorney) at the end of the externship term.
- In addition to field work, student must attend weekly classes, participate in class discussion and complete any readings and course work assigned.
How does a student secure an externship for D.C. Semester in Practice?
To identify possible employers in their area of interest, students should speak to an advisor in the Career Development Office, alumni located in D.C. or a professor in the area of interest that can guide them.
How does a student formally enroll in the D.C. Semester in Practice externship?
Once the student’s proposed externship has been approved and an executed Student-Agency Agreement is received, the student will receive an email with registration information to include:
- A unique registration PIN to enroll in the course through CaneLink.
- Instructions on how to use the registration PIN
How is a student graded for the D.C. Semester in Practice?
The D.C. Semester in Practice is a pass/fail course. Students must complete the following requirements to successfully pass the course:
- Complete the minimum field work hours as stated on the syllabus:
- Minimum of 255 hours for 6 credits
- Minimum of 385 hours for 9 credits
- Attend all scheduled classes once a week and submit all written work assignments.
- Receive a satisfactory evaluation from supervisor at their externship placement.
Mindy (Reinstein) Brodsky is the Adjunct Faculty for this course. She has primarily worked in public service in the D.C. area since graduating from Miami Law in 2008. She has held jobs at the Network of Jewish Human Service Agencies, the Jewish Federations of North America, the Anti-Defamation League, and at U.S. Congress as the Legislative Counsel to U.S. Congressman Alcee L. Hastings (FL-23).
At Miami Law she was a HOPE Fellow, received the Roger Sorino Award, the 2008 Exemplary Service to the Poor Award, and was the first Senior Fellow at the HOPE Public Interest Resource Center. She also was inducted into the prestigious Iron Arrow Society, served as President of the Society of Bar & Gavel, and participated in the Children & Youth Law Clinic and Miami STREET Law.
The program provides the support needed for a successful externship experience. For more information on the program contact: