Two Practice Credit Programs allow law students to earn credit while working at a nonprofit, government agency or select in-house counsel: PCP Independent Study Program and Externship Program. Both programs provide an opportunity for law students (2L or 3L) to earn academic credit for practical work experience and to help students better understand classroom work and the relationship between legal doctrine and practical legal skills.
Students secure an unpaid placement, with a non-profit, government agency or select in-house counsel and are required to spend 60 hours per credit hour at the placement (i.e., a three-hour externship will require you to work at the job site for 180 hours during the semester). All placements must have a supervising attorney to assign and evaluate student work.
The curriculum requirements for both programs differ, but the basic requirements include:
Both programs result in a pass/fail grade.
For more information on this program or to set an appointment to discuss your credit options with these programs, please contact Associate Director Amanda Rivas.
On-campus office hours are held at the Career Services office Mondays 10 a.m. to noon and Thursdays 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. The Practice Credit Program office is located at the Center for Legal and Social Justice, 2507 N.W. 36th Street.
Students interested in the program are responsible for securing an unpaid placement, with a non-profit, government agency or select in-house counsel not on the “approved” list of judicial internships in order to receive credit through the Externship program.
60 hours per credit hour must be spent working at unpaid placement. For example:
An externship worth three credit hours will require student to work 180 hours during the semester.
All coursework and evaluations are reviewed by the PCP Director to determine the student’s final grade. The Director submits a pass/fail grade for the course after reviewing all coursework and evaluations.
Our goal for externs in this program include:
The goal of the program is to provide an opportunity for second- or third-year law students to earn academic credit for legal doctrine experience and to help students better understand classroom work and the relationship between classroom work and work experiences. In addition, the independent study allows participants to develop personal contacts that may lead to job placement opportunities and build self-confidence, leadership, communication and self-assessment skills while working with others. Students interested in the program are responsible for securing an unpaid placement, with a non-profit or government agency, not on the “approved” list of judicial internships in order to receive credit through the Independent Study structure.
During the Independent Study Semester
Before Credit Can Be Given You Must
In-house Counsel Approved locations:
What are the programs and what is the difference between them?
Do I have to find my externship placement myself?
Do I need to have my placement approved?
Where are some places that have been externships in the past?
Does the placement have to be a nonprofit or government agency?
What is the In-house Counsel Externship Program?
Can I enroll in a Practice Credit Program as a 1L?
How and when should I register for a Practice Credit Program?
Do I need a faculty sponsor for the externship course?
Is it possible to complete the externship program outside of San Antonio?
Can we get a letter grade for our externship?
Is class attendance required for the externship? When and where are the externship classes?
May I be paid for my work?
How many hours must I complete for the course?
Can I do more than one Practice Credit Program?
What are the course requirements?
Can I complete my writing requirement with any of the Practice Credit Programs?
“What if I have a question or concern?”
Q: What are the programs and what is the difference between them?
The law school is offering two programs to give students more flexibility and to utilize more faculty resources. The Independent Study Program requires students to find a faculty sponsor as well as a placement. The placement for this program may be outside of San Antonio as long as the faculty sponsor approves. It will require some evaluations and reflections, depending on the agreement among the placement, faculty sponsor, and our program. This course is one or two credits for a pass/fail grade. The Externship Program requires students to find a placement in the San Antonio area. The PCP Director will be the faculty sponsor for all externs. This program requires attending a classes/meetings, structured reflections, an exemplar portfolio of your work product, a check-in conference, and evaluations. This course can be up to three credits for a pass/fail grade. Both programs require students to be supervised by an attorney at the placement. Students will need to work a minimum of 60 hours for each credit hour desired.
Q: Do I have to find my externship placement myself?
Yes, you will need to have a job offer for both the externship and independent study course. The Office of Career Services can help you start on the job search.
Q: Do I need to have my placement approved?
Yes, the placement will need to be approved before final enrollment in either course. You will need to contact Associate Director Amanda Rivas (email@example.com) once you have a job offer and are considering one of the Practice Credit Programs.
Q: Where are some places that have been externships in the past?
A few of our participants from our pilot program are: Attorney General’s Child Support Division and Consumer Protection Division, Mexican American Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), Railroad Commission, Office of General Counsel for the Governor, Catholic Charities Immigration Services, and United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Q: Does the placement have to be a nonprofit or government agency?
Generally, yes. Only nonprofit and government agencies will qualify for both Practice Credit Programs. You will not be eligible for either Practice Credit Programs (externship or independent study) if your job offer is from a private firm. Select corporate placements are vetted and approved for in-house counsel externships. If you have any questions about whether your job offer would qualify, please contact Associate Director Amanda Rivas (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Q: What is the In-house Counsel Externship Program??
Students are able to extern at a pre-approved corporation site. Students are required to complete the same requirements as the Externship Program in addition to the In-House Counsel class with Professor Angela Walch. For more information, contact Associate Director Amanda Rivas at email@example.com.
Q: Can I enroll in a Practice Credit Program as a 1L?
No. Only 2Ls and 3Ls are eligible to enroll in Practice Credit programs. 1L evening students in their last semester do not qualify for these programs.
Q: How and when should I register for a Practice Credit Program?
Once you have a job offer, contact Associate Director Amanda Rivas (firstname.lastname@example.org ) to ensure the placement meets the criteria for the Practice Credit Programs. If you choose to do an independent study, then you will need to find a faculty sponsor to approve and supervise your coursework. An externship does not require a faculty sponsor. You will need to discuss the program with your supervising attorney. If you both agree to the expectations of the program, then you will sign and submit a registration form to the Associate Director. In addition, the externship program requires you both sign and submit a commitment form.
Q: Do I need a faculty sponsor for the externship course?
No. A faculty sponsor is only required for the independent study course. Your faculty support during the externship course will be the PCP Director and Associate Director.
Q: Is it possible to complete the externship program outside of San Antonio?
No. The externship program is generally limited to the San Antonio area. A few exceptions are made to other regions in Texas when acomodations can be arrainged. The program requires close enough proximity to allow for direct meetings among students, placement supervisor and the faculty member. The Independent Study placement can be outside the San Antonio area if approved by the faculty sponsor.
Q: Can we get a letter grade for our externship?
No. Currently, both the externship and the independent study programs are pass/fail. Professor Novoa (externship) or your faculty sponsor (independent study) is charged with evaluating your work and assigning your pass/fail grade.
Q: Is class attendance required for the externship? When and where are the externship classes?
Yes, class attendance is required. Classes and Meetings for the externship program are scheduled each semester in conjunction with the student’s schedule. There is no class component for the Independent Study program.
Q: May I be paid for my work?
No. Receiving payment for your work at the placement site will render you ineligible for the Practice Credit Programs. However, receiving reasonable compensation/reimburse for expenses incurred because of the placement, i.e. parking fees, mileage, will not disqualify you from the program.
Q: How many hours must I complete for the course?
You will have to work 60 hours at your placement for each credit hour you desire. Therefore, if you want three (3) credits for the externship, then you will have to work 180 hours at your placement site. You will record and submit time sheets regularly to the Associate Director in order to meet the course requirement.
Q: Can I do more than one Practice Credit Program?
Yes. However, you are limited by the 8 hour pass/fail limit stated in the student handbook. Please contact the Associate Director as soon as possible to discuss further details.
Q: What are the course requirements?
Depending on whether you do the Independent Study or the Externship, your course requirements will be different. Generally, you must complete the time requirements (60 hours for each credit hour), submit all assignments, complete and submit all required evaluations. Requirements that differentiate the externship from the independent study include, attending mandatory classes and meetings, completing a check-in conference, producing an exemplars portfolio, and completing an additional evaluation.
Q: Can I complete my writing requirement with any of the Practice Credit Programs?
No, both Practice Credit Programs—Independent Study and Externship—are not approved by the faculty as a course in which the writing requirement can be met.
Q: What if I have a question, concern, or special need?
Contact Associate Director Amanda Rivas (email@example.com). Her office located at the Center for Legal and Social Justice. Office phone: 431-5712. Fax: 431-5700.