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Supervised Externship Program

Individual Faculty Supervision Guidelines

This document outlines the basic responsibilities of Supervising Faculty Members who participate in the Washington College of Law Externship Program, as adopted by the WCL faculty on November 3, 1997:

  1. Journals/Logs. Faculty members supervising students in externship placements should require students to keep a contemporaneous record of their externship experiences. Students should record, at a minimum, dates and hours of work and the general matters on which they worked. The faculty member may also ask the students to address in writing their perceptions and insights about the work experience and workplace, the lawyering process, the institutions of the legal system, the experience of clients, the law as it operates in the world, or other matters related to the externship experience.

  2. Weekly Meetings. Faculty members supervising students in externship placements should meet with their students, individually or in small groups, for a total of five to seven hours over the course of the semester (approximately 1/2 hour most weeks). Topics for discussion in these meetings may include the progress of the externship, issues revealed in student journals or logs, problems/successes, the tasks students are performing in their placements, ethical questions, and other matters related to the students' externship experiences.

  3. Goals. Faculty members should require students to meet with their field supervisors at the beginning of the semester to discuss such matters as the supervisor's expectations and the student's goals for the externship. The faculty member should require students to document this meeting in a manner of the faculty member's choosing.

  4. Field Supervisor's Evaluation. Faculty members should have either phone or written contact with the student's field supervisor at the end of the semester to discuss the field supervisor's perceptions of the student extern's work and the externship program generally. Documentation of this contact (i.e., written correspondence or notes of phone conversations) should be retained by the faculty member.

  5. Writing Requirement. Faculty members supervising students in externship placements should review and provide a significant critique to students on some form of substantial written product related to their externship placements. This written product may consist of a paper reflecting on the student's externship experience, a research paper, or a substantial piece of writing or series of writing projects the student has produced during the course of the externship.

  6. Student Evaluation. Faculty members should require students to complete and turn in to the Externship Director a written evaluation of their externship placements for use by future students. Faculty members should not award students academic credit for their externships until they have completed these evaluations.

  7. Certification. Faculty members should certify that all of the above-listed requirements have been successfully completed as indicated on the form provided for granting academic credit to student externs at the end of the semester.

  8. Records. Faculty members should retain, for a period of three years, the paperwork related to their externship supervision, including students' written work and weekly reports, in their files or in central files that will be established to archive externship material.

Background & Purpose

These guidelines articulate the basic standards to which the faculty wishes to adhere in supervising students in the J.D. program who are earning academic credit for field work in externship placements. The guidelines are intended as a reference for experienced faculty members and as an information source for new faculty, adjuncts and visitors. While outlining the basic elements of quality externship supervision, the guidelines are designed to allow latitude in the pedagogical methods and educational purposes faculty members may wish to pursue through externship supervision.

These guidelines are offered not only for their educational value, but also as a response to the concerns raised by the ABA Accreditation Committee that reviewed WCL's externship program in connection with the 1995 ABA-AALS sabbatical site evaluation. That committee wholeheartedly endorsed WCL's seminar model for externship supervision, but expressed serious concerns about the lack of quality control under WCL's individual supervision model. WCL's addition of staff and other resources to the externship program now creates opportunities for all students to have one or more externship experiences by enrolling in externship seminars. These developments should eliminate the need for faculty members to take on individual externship supervision when busy schedules make adherence to these standards burdensome.

 
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