Explore civil litigation externships:
Scott Edwards, Environmental Attorney (2 for the seminar; 2 for fieldwork)
Environmental law is a broad practice area that includes equity and justice, protection and regulation of human health, natural resource protection and conservation, energy, wildlife protection, forests and fisheries, public lands, land use and the intersection of these areas. This practice is governed by a variety of legal frameworks that operate on international, federal, state and local levels. The Environmental Externship is designed to introduce students to the practice.
Students will also participate in a weekly 2-hour seminar that will address a combination of lawyering and environmental practice specific skills. The class is designed to support and contextualize students’ field placements while also addressing their professional development. The seminar will introduce students to important areas and current topics in environmental law; examine many of the challenges and intricacies of effective environmental legal advocacy, including working in coalition, community lawyering and client relations; and provide a sense of what is required to succeed in environmental law practice. The seminar will be primarily experiential with opportunities for group and individual reflection. Active participation in group discussions is expected; any discussion of fieldwork will be managed to respect confidentiality of placements.
Each student will be assigned to a field placement based on availability, student input and supervisor review. The placements will be with environmental organizations, non-profit law practices and government agencies. For Fall 2022 some placements may be remote. Students will be expected to dedicate an average of 11 hours each week to their fieldwork.
The course will be open to JD and LL.M candidates. There are no prerequisites for the course, but some suggested courses include: Environmental Law, Administrative Law and or Legislation and Regulation.
Tashi Lhewa and Shervon Small, Lecturers-in-Law (2 for the seminar; 2 for fieldwork)
Students in the Economic Justice and Empowerment Externship will help economically disadvantaged New Yorkers with consumer debt, federal and state income tax disputes, and small business needs.
Students will work with experienced practitioners with The Legal Aid Society through the Harlem Office to offer legal services that empower and provide financial stability to clients. The experience will enhance the law students’ abilities as future lawyers and increase their understanding of the economic challenges faced by lower income New Yorkers and their families, while allowing space for students to reflect on the systems—societal, economic, legal, etc.—that impact clients’ daily lives. Students will gain hands-on experience in lawyering while simultaneously helping some of the most disadvantaged civil litigants obtain critical legal assistance in State courts, U.S. Tax Court, in administrative forums, and through transactional practice.
In class, students will consider the various systems—societal, economic, legal, etc.—that impact our clients’ daily lives, will be expected to reflect on the systems and increases their understanding of the economic challenges faced by low-income New Yorkers and their families, and will critique and debate developing policies in class and consider economic justice can be attained by all. During field placements, students will gain hands-on lawyering experience helping some of the most disadvantaged civil litigants obtain critical legal assistance in State courts, U.S. Tax Court, in administrative forums, and through transactional practice.
Students will work ten+ hours a week on cases at various stages alongside experienced practitioners. They will have the opportunity to draft pleadings and participate in motion practice. Students will accompany attorneys to court and, if appropriate, negotiate settlements and/or make arguments for cases before the New York City Civil Court. In addition to individual cases, students will have the option to partake in legislative or regulatory advocacy through legal research focused on expanding economic justice.
The course will be open to JD and LL.M candidates. There are no prerequisites for the course.
Jackeline Solivan and Matthew Tropp (2 for the seminar; 2 for fieldwork)
Students in the Housing Justice Externship will explore the Right to Counsel model used in summary proceedings in NYC Housing Courts. In 2017, New York City enacted the first legislation in the country establishing a Universal Access to Counsel program (UAC) also known as the Right to Counsel (RTC) for all income-eligible tenants facing eviction. During an unprecedented pandemic, New York City amended the legislation to fully implement the Right to Counsel in Housing Court eviction proceedings and termination hearings at The New York City Housing Authority more than a year earlier than the original effective date. The original five-year phase-in was cut short and the right to a free attorney in Housing Court was fully realized beginning in June 2021.
The focus of the seminar will be to delve into the RTC model in New York City while using a critical racial lens to examine the systemic racism and inherent bias of the court system especially in its high-volume courts and how the system can be improved to provide low-income New Yorkers better access to justice. We will also explore the historical significance of RTC, its implementation and compare and contrast it with other jurisdictions.
The seminar will explore RTC as well as learn substantive areas of New York City housing law and litigation skills. The seminar classes will include discussions about housing policy and substantive laws, will include group and individual practical exercises, and discussions of students’ experiences from their field placements. In addition to discussion of field work experiences and interactive classroom exercises, students will engage with guest speakers from throughout The Legal Aid Society, the Housing Court, and the housing advocacy and policy community. The guests will lend their expertise on particular subjects.
Each student will be assigned to a field placement within the Bronx Neighborhood Office at The Legal Aid Society. This will be a clinical, hands-on experience with the primary practical goal learning how to represent low-income tenants in summary proceedings in Bronx Housing Court. Students in the externship will work on real cases and learn about the different types of summary proceedings in Housing Court as well as how to issue spot and litigate appropriate defenses. They will also learn about the vast array of rental subsidies and rent arrears grants that can be accessed to preserve affordable housing in NYC. Students will be expected to dedicate an average of 10 hours each week to their fieldwork.
The course will be open to JD and LL.M candidates.
Karen Cacace and Kristen Julie Ferguson, Lecturers-in- Law (2 for the seminar; 3 for fieldwork) Full-year course
N.Y. Attorney General’s Office, Workers’ Rights and Civil Litigation at the Labor Bureau
This course is a year-long intensive study of Federal, New York State, and New York City employment laws paired with an externship at the Labor Bureau in the New York State Office of the Attorney General. The first semester will focus on learning the relevant laws, which will include minimum wage and overtime laws; anti-discrimination laws, including criminal records discrimination; family and medical leave laws, health and safety protections for workers, and anti-trafficking laws. The second semester will focus on building litigation skills, wherein students litigate mock cases by interviewing mock clients, drafting their complaints, presenting their cases at initial conferences before established guest judges and professionals, drafting discovery requests, and taking and defending mock depositions.
Each week in the seminar portion of the course students will explore either a substantive area of employment law or a litigation skill, and will be responsible for completing relevant readings. The seminars will be focused primarily on class discussions about the specific seminar topic with oral presentations by students and by guest speakers working in the field. The seminars will also include individual practical exercises, discussed above, including client interviewing, drafting a complaint and presenting a case at a mock initial conference.
The fieldwork will be a clinical, hands-on experience allowing the students to apply the knowledge learned in the weekly seminar to enforce labor laws in New York State. It will require students to work at the Attorney General’s offices 15 hours per week and Karen Cacace, Labor Bureau Chief, and Kristen Julie Ferguson, Assistant Attorney General, will supervise the students’ fieldwork. Students will assist attorneys in the Labor Bureau with investigations into employers who have violated the employment laws, including by interviewing workers, assisting with subpoena hearings (similar to depositions) for employer witnesses, drafting briefs, aiding with document discovery, and researching for litigation filed in federal and state court. Students will be required to submit a 10-page paper evaluating their experience in the externship each semester.
The course will admit 6-8 students and will be open to JD and LL.M candidates. Foreign language skills, especially Spanish, are useful. There are no prerequisites to take this course.