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Semester Public Interest Program

B538 is taught by Hughes

Selected third-year students spend an entire semester in Washington, D.C as public interest interns with nonprofit corporations, trade associations, or federal, state, or local government agencies. The core of the program is a semester-long externship/field placement (B538) coupled with an on-site or video-enabled twice monthly in person seminar on lawyering in the public interest (B539).

Students must work at least 400 hours during the semester at the externship site for the eight B538 hours of credit. The externship work includes established and regular communication among the student, the supervising faculty member, and the supervisory attorney. Students work out their start-and-finish dates for these placements with their supervisors, not with Maurer faculty. We do recommend that students plan to be in DC from Labor Day to the end of the week before Thanksgiving. Many students continue to work into December if they want.

Students also write scheduled reflective essays, which focus not on particular (and often confidential) work products but more on the working of the host organization, its role in administrative, legislative or advocacy work, and on the types of specific challenges it faces in administrative law, legislative drafting and representation, litigation or advocacy from a more academic perspective. Depending on whether students have taken Administrative Law or Legislation before matriculating in B 538 and B 539, students should read selected portions of the Aman-Penniman treatise on Administrative Law, which is widely available from online sources as well as the Bloomington area textbook sellers. We will spend some of every class period in the B 539 course on Administrative Law and Legislation topics.

Students also will submit short papers over the course of the semester as the deliverables for the B539 course so that intensive writing and feedback on writing is a central feature of the B 538 and B 539 courses.

Students will be paired with Maurer grad mentors practicing in fields of mutual interest and, during the B 539 class session, will meet with distinguished Maurer alumni who specialize in federal practice areas that students enrolled express interest. Admission to the program requires special permission from Executive Associate Dean and the instructor.

The companion course, B 539, offers an additional three credits. Students are strongly encouraged to enroll in a separate, one-credit, online course on Advanced Legal Research on Federal Regulatory and Legislative Law subjects. Professor Jennifer Morgan will teach this specialized Advanced Legal Research course. This brings to the total number of credits available for the three courses to 12 credits. This 12-credit total should alleviate the need for students enrolled for Fall 2020 to fill out their credits for the semester with directed readings or independent research, and the choices that some students make to take heavy loads in the Spring Semester following their DC semesters.

Only students specifically admitted to the DC Semester Program may enroll. For more information on the pre-approval process, please see the course description for B 539, Lawyering in the Public Interest.