Lawyers for America offers UC Hastings students an academic year of practical experience as part of their legal education, followed by 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 a public-interest law office, continuously 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. 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.
The Class of 2014 LfA fellows are working for the Contra Costa County District Attorney or Public Defender. Fellows from the Class of 2015 are externing at 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 placement sites and practice areas:
Consumers Union -- policy, consumers rights, privacy
Port of Oakland -- transactional, environmental, employment, maritime, aviation
Disability Rights California -- disability law, civil rights
Contra Costa District Attorney (4 fellows) -- criminal
Contra Costa Public Defender -- criminal
Solano County Public Defender -- criminal
Center for Biological Diversity – environmental
Legal Services for Prisoners with Children (tentative) -- policy, criminal, civil, rights, reproductive justice
Read the 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 our LfA Partner Panels. Recordings are HERE (Consumers Union; Legal Services for Prisoners with Children; Center for Biological Diversity; and Port of Oakland) and HERE (Contra Costa Public Defender; Solano Public Defender; Contra Costa District Attorney).
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.
Fellowship opportunities are advertised to the second-year class during the fall semester of second year. For the Class of 2016, applications are due January 25, 2015, and the selection process will conclude by the middle of Spring semester (2015). You can view last year's applications (for the Class of 2015) here.
The first step is the online application, found here, which consists of several brief 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. Individual sites describe their specific selection criteria in their panel presentations, available Recordings of those presentations are HERE (Consumers Union; Legal Services for Prisoners with Children; Center for Biological Diversity; and Port of Oakland) 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, which begins as soon as the fellow returns to 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. 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.
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. In addition there is a Memorandum of Agreement to which the law school, the fellow, the placement site, and LFA are all parties. A sample agreement is here for your information.
How do I get more information about Lawyers for America at UC 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 Director. For more general information about the program, contact Professor Marsha Cohen, email@example.com, 415-565-4676, LfA’s executive director.
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