Lawyers for America offers UC Hastings students an academic year of practical experience (a training year) as part of their legal education, followed by one year of post-graduate employment (a service year) that will greatly enhance their competitiveness in the post-fellowship job market.
Watch and hear!
The Fall 2015 Information Session, including a panel of five current and former LfA fellows, can be viewed HERE.
LfA fellows spend most of their third-year units (12 each semester: 8 nonclassroom, 4 classroom) engaged in an externship at a nonprofit or government law office, working through both semesters, including most of winter break. Following these nine months of work, graduation, and three months to take the bar exam and a vacation, fellows return to the same placement site for a full year, earning a stipend paid by LfA.
LfA participants leave the fellowship with 20 months of legal work experience, supervisors who can attest to their capabilities as an attorney, and a reputation in the relevant legal community. They are thus in an excellent position to compete in an increasingly tight legal market -- both within the placement site, if a position becomes available, or elsewhere. All the alumni in the first LfA class who passed the bar and completed their fellowships in September 2015 were hired by their placement sites and elsewhere.
The Class of 2014 LfA fellows worked for the Contra Costa County District Attorney or Public Defender. Fellows from the Class of 2015 are in their service year for the Contra Costa County Public Defender, the Contra Costa County Superior Court, the Berkeley City Attorney, the First District Appellate Project, and the Center for Biological Diversity. Class of 2016 fellows are now in their training year with the Contra Costa County District Attorney, the Contra Costa County Public Defender, Disability Rights California, and the Solano County Public Defender.
Placement sites available for the Class of 2017 (and site practice areas):
Berkeley City Attorney (2 fellows) -- transactional, health, environmental, employment, general litigation
Center for Biological Diversity – environmental law/species protection
Consumers Union -- policy, consumer rights, privacy
Contra Costa District Attorney (2 fellows) -- criminal
Contra Costa Public Defender -- criminal
Contra Costa Superior Court -- civil, complex litigation, family law, criminal
Solano County Public Defender -- criminal
Read current and past LfA partner proposals (describing a fellowship at their office) at: http://www.uchastings.edu/academics/clinical-programs/lawyers-for-america/for-law-students/america-app-info/index.php.
In addition, representatives from many of next year’s partner sites appeared at past LfA Partner Panels. Recordings are HERE (Consumers Union and Center for Biological Diversity) and HERE (Contra Costa Public Defender, Solano Public Defender, and Contra Costa District Attorney).
Because fellows have limited time to take basic courses during their externship year, those interested in applying for the program will need to consider how they would complete necessary coursework. A free summer course may be available to help in this regard. Also, because the program provides 16 nonclassroom units, you need to compute your overall total, as only 20 such units can be counted toward graduation. For assistance in considering how LfA could work for you, contact Professor Mai-Linh Spencer, LfA Academic Director.
Members of the Class of 2018 interested in LfA positions next year should pay careful attention to their course selection for second year. Specifically, you will be best positioned to participate in LfA if you plan to complete 14-15 classroom units each semester of your second year so you have sufficient units to graduate without having to take any 3L classes beyond those required by LfA. When choosing your 2L classes, consideration must be given both to courses that are relevant to one’s anticipated specialty and to those tested on the bar. The faculty has prepared a list of highly recommended courses that would be useful to view, at the bottom of this page: http://www.uchastings.edu/about/admin-offices/records/registration/index.php. In addition, you may find it helpful to listen to a program given in fall 2012 about course selection for those interested in the Lawyers for America program, which you can find here: http://bit.ly/lfa-intro. The PowerPoint may be viewed HERE.
Keep in mind that if you ultimately do not apply for, or obtain, a Lawyers for America position, your careful 2L year course selection will allow you great flexibility in selecting clinical opportunities during both semesters of your third year.
Fellowship opportunities are advertised to the second-year class during the fall semester of second year. Applications are due the following spring semester.
The first step is the online application, which consists of several short essay questions. Applicants include their resume and, if requested by the placement, a writing sample. Applicants may include a letter of recommendation, if desired. A UC Hastings faculty committee reviews all applications, soliciting feedback on candidates from their former UC Hastings professors and making an initial determination as to each student's ability to succeed in the fellowship. This is a relatively brief process. Next, the placement sites review applicants and conduct interviews. Some sites conduct two rounds of interviews. Sites then make offers directly to the students selected.
Each site has its own selection criteria, but most are looking primarily for commitment to and/or interest in the area of practice, enthusiasm, and demonstrated professionalism. Site representatives described their specific selection criteria in panel presentations, recordings of which are HERE (Consumers Union and Center for Biological Diversity) and HERE (Contra Costa Public Defender, Solano Public Defender, Contra Costa District Attorney).
Yes. We encourage you to apply to any site you are sincerely interested in; simply fill out a separate application for each site. Keep in mind that placement sites may ask you during your interview whether you have applied to any other sites.
The current stipend is $35,000/year, plus an additional stipend to pay for health insurance. Pay begins as soon as the fellow returns to work after taking the bar exam, typically late August. Because fellows work in a non-profit or government law office, they are generally eligible for PICAP, the UC Hastings loan repayment program, as well as for the federal Public Service Loan Forgiveness program. In addition, most fellows benefit from income-sensitive loan repayment programs. For more information, go to http://www.uchastings.edu/about/admin-offices/financial-aid/picap/index.php.
The primary contractual agreement governing the LFA program is one to which the law school, the fellow, the placement site, and LFA are all parties. A sample agreement is here for your information. Hastings also enters into a field agency agreement with the placement site to outline cooperation and supervision during the 3L year.
For additional information about LfA at UC Hastings, contact Professor Mai Linh Spencer, firstname.lastname@example.org, 415-565-4743, the program’s Academic Director, or Professor Marsha Cohen, email@example.com, 415-565-4676, LfA’s executive director.
Additional information is also available in this ppt presentation.