Welcome to my first post for BU Law blogs! You can find other meanderings about law school, living in Boston and life as a 2L at BU Law on this page over the course of this year.
One experience that I’ve had over the course of this semester which I’m very grateful for is my externship through the Legal Externship Program. While many students participate in our well-known clinical programs over the course of their 2L and 3L years, the externship programs at BU tend to be more off the radar. Students who choose to participate in the externship programs can select either the Government Externship Program or the Legal Externship Program depending on where they are working. As part of the program, students are also required to take a legal ethics course in conjunction with their job placement. This legal ethics course also satisfies the professional responsibility requirement.
But enough about boring course selection stuff, I’m sure all the readers want to hear about my externship. I am currently working as a Legal Intern (or “extern”, the names are really interchangeable) for the City of Boston’s Office of Labor Relations. As a 2L interested in labor and employment law, this was the perfect placement for me to get hands-on labor law experience. I work at Boston’s City Hall 15-17 hours per week generally on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons and all day Friday. The amount of course credits you get depends on how many hours per week you work. While this may seem like a lot of time away from school throughout the week, the program is designed to provide a taste of what practicing after graduation will be like. A practicing attorney has to strike a balance between a number of obligations and the Legal Externship Program is able to give law students a similar sense of needing to strike a balance between school work and the time spent at your externship.
The City of Boston’s Office of Labor Relations is a very busy office but only employs a handful of attorneys. Because of this, myself and two other interns have the opportunity to be responsible for real legal work every day. Whether this includes researching critical issues regarding management’s right to terminate a city employee or preparing attorneys for collective bargaining sessions, the interns at my office have a great deal of responsibility. For instance, just this week, I’ve had the opportunity to observe an arbitration hearing at the Massachusetts Department of Labor Relations, an investigatory interview with a witness who observed an employee confrontation and a meeting between a major public sector union and the City of Boston seeking to enforce minimum qualifications for existing employees. These experiences have allowed me to practice what I’ve learned in class but also explore different areas where I may have interest in. It has also reaffirmed my preconceived belief that I do have an interest in labor and employment law.
My internship is not alone in providing a hands-on experience to BU Law students. A number of other interns with placements throughout Boston have shared similar stories and experiences where they have been able to get real legal experience on a part-time basis throughout the semester. While BU’s clinical programs are also a great way to get real legal experience, the externship program provides a different avenue to explore what a practicing attorney experiences day-to-day. For me, law school has been about trying to figure out exactly what area of law I’m interested in practicing. The Legal Externship Program has provided another way for me to narrow down my interests and allow me to explore a new practice area.