Lawyers for America offers Hastings students an academic year of practical experience as part of their legal education, coupled with one year of post-graduate employment that will greatly enhance their competitiveness in the post-fellowship job market.
LfA fellows spend most of their third-year units (12 each semester) engaged in an externship at one law office placement site, continuously through both semesters, including winter break. Following these nine months of work, graduation, and three months to take the bar exam and a short vacation, fellows return to the same placement site for a full year, earning a stipend paid by LfA. Thus, participants leave the fellowship with 20 months of law-office work experience, supervisors who can attest to their capabilities as an attorney, and a reputation in the relevant legal community. In the event that their placement site has positions available at that time, successful fellows will be in an excellent position to compete for them.
What kind of positions does LfA offer to Hastings students?
The fellows from the Class of 2014 are working for the Contra Costa County District Attorney or Public Defender. Fellows from the Class of 2015 will work for the Contra Costa County Public Defender, the Contra Costa County Superior Court, the Berkeley City Attorney, the First District Appellate Project, the Center for Biological Diversity, or Legal Services for Prisoners With Children. (The selection process has occurred or is underway for these sites.) Additional positions may become available during the spring 2014 semester for members of the Class of 2015; updates to the application process for the Class of 2015 are here: http://www.uchastings.edu/academics/clinical-programs/lawyers-for-america/for-law-students/america-app-info/index.php.
It is likely that many of these sites, as well as others, will seek fellows from the Class of 2016.
How should I prepare to be eligible for an LfA position?
Because fellows have limited time to take basic courses during their externship year, those interested in applying for the program 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. This will ensure that 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.
When will I know about fellowship opportunities for my class? When will the selection process take place?
Fellowship opportunities will be advertised to the second-year class during the fall semester of second year. Applications will be made available at that time, and the selection process will conclude by the end of that semester (unless additional fellowship slots become available at a later time).
How much are LfA fellows paid during the post-graduate year? Are they eligible for loan repayment?
The current stipend is $30,000/year, which begins as soon as the fellow begins work after taking the bar exam, typically August. Because they work in a non-profit or government law office, fellows are generally eligible for PICAP, the UC Hastings loan repayment program, as well as for the federal Public Service Loan Forgiveness program. For more information, see http://www.uchastings.edu/about/admin-offices/financial-aid/picap/index.php.
What does the employment agreement look like for Lawyers for America positions?
There are contractual agreements governing the LFA program. UC Hastings enters into an agreement with the externship site (as it does for all external clinical programs.) In addition there is a Memorandum of Agreement to which the law school, the fellow, the placement site, and LFA are all parties. That agreement for the current fellowship program at the Contra Costa County Public Defender’s Office is here for your information.
How do I get more information about Lawyers for America at Hastings?
For additional information about LfA at UC Hastings, contact Professor Mai Linh Spencer, firstname.lastname@example.org, 415-565-4743, the program’s academic supervisor. For more general information about the program, contact Professor Marsha Cohen, email@example.com, 415-565-4676, LFA’s executive director.
What do the current LfA Fellows think about their experience? Watch and hear!