Saturday, April 20, 2013

Does ASL's Nationally Recognized Externship Program Enhance Student Happiness?

This summer, I will serve as the Faculty Supervisor for our students working as externs in Kentucky.  I have played this role for our Kentucky students three summers in a row.  One year, I also covered southwest Virginia nearly to the Cumberland Gap.

I love exploring the towns and cities in the area we serve as a law school.  I love meeting the prosecutors, attorneys general, public defenders, judges, Legal Service, and other pubic service attorneys that host our students and serve as their site supervisors.  I love talking with these folks about our well-trained rising 2L students who must complete the externship as part of our educational program.  I also love interacting in my Dispute Resolution course with these more savvy, world-tested lawyers-in-training.  I know they bring a level of confidence and experience to the course that elevates our conversations.

The Appalachian School of Law recently completed a couple of videos describing the externship program that you can view here (narrated by Program Director and Prof. Derrick Howard) and here (student testimonials).

The program at Appalachian School of Law, ranked 9th for the extent of student participation:
  • Allows students to be integrated in the legal workplace and culture.
  • Connects students to lawyers and judges in the community.
  • Provides an experiential (contextual) learning opportunity.
  • Matches students as closely as possible to their passions.
  • Assists in post-graduate placements by creating an employment network.
  • Requires all rising 2Ls to participate during the summer.
  • Offers new programs for 2Ls and 3Ls with prestigious placements in natural resources and in executive, legislative, or judicial branches of government.
  • Provides a diversity of placements with:
    • 181 Judges
    • 166 District attorneys
    • 52   Public defenders
    • 40   Legal aid offices
    • 32   State attorneys general
    • 19   NGOs
    • 6     Federal attorneys general
    •  6    State agencies, and others.
More information about the program appears on the ASL webpage.

Empirical studies suggest that this live-client experience contributes to student's sense of mastery. It also brings home the important role they play for clients needing their help. The experience should enhance feelings of happiness and well-being that could help sustain them through the next two years of law school.

1 comment:

  1. A comment to another blog:

    According to the ABA's data on lawyer demographics, in 1991, 62% of lawyers were under the age of 45. In 2000, just under 48% of lawyers were under the age of 45, and by far the largest cohort was the group aged 45-54, at 28% of the total. The ABA data does not show current age demographics, but things are almost certainly even more skewed toward older lawyers today, as that bubble of lawyers enters their 60s. Those lawyers will start retiring in large numbers over the next decade.

    The financial pressures on some law schools may indeed prove too much for them to bear in the short term, but it seems likely that if they can hold on, their prospects will improve as the baby boomers retire.

    The ABA data (which is taken from the American Bar Foundation's Lawyer Statistical Report) is here:

    Posted by: Paul Kirgis | October 03, 2012 at 07:21 AM