Constitutional and Affirmative Litigation Externships

Explore constitutional and affirmative litigation externships:

George Kendall, Corrine Irish, and Jenay Nurse, Lecturers-in-Law, 4 credits (2 for the seminar; 2 for fieldwork)

Course Description
This externship will focus upon federal constitutional rights, and the legal doctrines and on-the- ground factors that influence how they are enforced in capital and life imprisonment cases. Students will be assigned to work within the unique public service practice groups of commercial law firms - the Squire Patton Boggs Public Service Initiative (PSI) - where they will work on behalf of indigent clients challenging death sentences or life imprisonment. Students may also have the opportunity to assist with litigation and advocacy related to broader criminal justice reform efforts. Students' work will vary depending on case needs but typically involves one or more of the following: providing legal, policy, record-based and sometimes media/social media research; conducting fact investigation; or assisting with trial/hearing prep. The class will ordinarily meet at Squire's midtown offices on Friday from 1:00pm-2:50pm. Occasionally, the class may meet at Columbia Law School (for example when a guest speaker's presentation would be of interest to a large portion of the law school community).

The Seminar
The weekly seminar will utilize court decisions, legislative activity, related research, and PSI case materials to explore how the enforcement of constitutional rights operates both in theory and in practice. The focus will be on understanding the constitutional rights implicated in capital and serious criminal prosecutions and understanding how post-conviction doctrines facilitate or fail to facilitate their enforcement. The seminar will also seek to develop the skills of students through in-class exercises that engage students in the advocacy required of practicing attorneys and policymakers in this field.

Fieldwork
Our litigation practice focuses primarily on capital and life imprisonment cases in the Southeast. Fieldwork will be devoted to indigent PSI clients, or to counsel of record or amici supporting indigent petitioners before the Supreme Court. Students will be assigned to an attorney's case team in groups of two or three.

Important Information
The course will be limited to 8-9 students and will be open to JD and LL.M candidates. It is recommended that students take Evidence, Criminal Procedure and/or Federal Courts prior to, or concurrently with, this course.

Scott Edwards, Environmental Attorney (2 for the seminar; 2 for fieldwork)

Course Description
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.

The Seminar
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.

Fieldwork
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.

Important Information
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.

Caroline DeCell, Lecturer-in-Law, 5 credits (2 for the seminar; 3 for fieldwork)

Course Description
The externship will center on the Knight Institute’s strategic litigation efforts to define and defend First Amendment freedoms in the digital age. Students will work with Knight Institute attorneys to develop cutting-edge First Amendment challenges while examining and evaluating the role of the First Amendment in new digital societies. They will focus on the Knight Institute’s current litigation docket, including cases relating to public officials’ use of social media, the rights of digital journalists and researchers to investigate social media and other online platforms, government surveillance of individuals’ online speech, and restraints on speech by government employees and whistleblowers.

The Seminar
The weekly classroom component of the externship will consist of a one-hour litigation meeting and a one-hour seminar, both held at the Knight Institute’s offices in the Interchurch building, located at 475 Riverside Drive. During the weekly litigation meetings, students will engage with Knight Institute attorneys in analyzing the merits and strategic value of new cases under consideration. The weekly seminar class will provide a theoretical and doctrinal foundation for the students’ work at the Knight Institute. Students will be required to submit response papers relating to the readings for each class and be expected to participate thoughtfully and respectfully in class discussions.

Fieldwork
The externship will afford students an opportunity to work closely with Knight Institute attorneys in developing cutting-edge First Amendment challenges. Students are required to work 15 hours per week at the Knight Institute. Students will draft substantive research memoranda to be assigned by Knight Institute attorneys. In addition, they will participate in team meetings; conduct spot legal research; review government records and policies; and/or draft blog posts or other public communications.

Important Information
The course will be open to a limited number of JD and LL.M candidates. There are no prerequisites to take this course.

Karen Cacace and Kristen Julie Ferguson, Lecturers-in- Law (2 for the seminar; 3 for fieldwork) Full-year course

Course Description
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.

The Seminar
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.

Fieldwork
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.

Important Information
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.

Bryan Bloom and Amy McFarlane, Lecturers- in-Law, 5 credits (2 for the seminar; 3 for fieldwork)

Course Description
State attorneys general have increasingly taken on the mantle of promoting economic justice through cutting-edge impact litigation and other creative legal strategies. New York has been at the forefront of this effort, and the Attorney General’s Economic Justice Division has used its broad enforcement powers on behalf of the People of the State of New York in a wide variety of areas, including challenging monopolization schemes and cartels used to raise prescription drug prices, protecting vulnerable consumers from unscrupulous investment advisors, among others. This course affords students the opportunity to learn and experience economic justice lawyering from the perspective of state government.

In this externship, students will have the opportunity to learn and experience antitrust enforcement from the perspective of state government, and to develop skills in legal research, writing, investigative techniques, and litigation. Students will work with assistant attorney generals (AAGs) in the Antitrust Bureau of the NYS Attorney General’s Office, which uses its broad enforcement powers on behalf of the People of the State of NY in a variety of areas including challenging monopolization schemes, cartels, and mergers.

The Seminar
The seminar will meet for two hours each week and will be led by the Antitrust Bureau’s Senior Enforcement Counsel Bryan Bloom and Deputy Bureau Chief Amy McFarlane. Students will study the work of the Antitrust Bureau in detail, discuss case studies drawn from recent enforcement work, gain familiarity with various legal issue areas, reflect on fieldwork, and develop skills in legal writing, investigatory techniques, and litigation.

Fieldwork
For the fieldwork portion, students are expected to work 15 hours per week. Students will work directly with their assigned Assistant Attorneys General in the Antitrust Bureau, and site supervisors will assist students with getting assignments in their areas of interest and balancing workload.

Important Information
The course will be limited to 6 students and will be open to J.D. and LL.M candidates. There are no prerequisites for this course. Students who are in this externship are not eligible to take the NY OAG Antitrust Enforcement Externship in the Spring semester. 

Monica Wagner and Lindsay McKenzie, Lecturers- in-Law, 5 credits (2 for the seminar; 3 for fieldwork)

Course Description
Lawyers in the New York Attorney General’s Social Division represent the people of New York on a wide range of social and environmental justice matters, ranging from enforcing civil rights, labor, and other laws that protect vulnerable communities, including people of color, immigrants, workers, LGBTQ people, tenants, and health care consumers, and other vulnerable communities to challenging repeals and delays of federal environmental programs and other federal programs that protect New Yorkers to ensuring that charitable donations are used for their intended purpose. The goal of the seminar and fieldwork is to teach students about the authority and work of the New York Attorney General while giving them hands-on experience in public interest investigation and litigation.

The Seminar
In the weekly two-hour seminar, students will explore how a case is built and engage in simulations of what AAGs do, including a deposition of a carwash operator suspected of not complying with labor laws, oral argument on whether a cigarette advertisement is targeted to juveniles, and preparation of an expert hydrogeologist to testify about hazardous waste.

Students also prepare short reflection papers on their fieldwork, using them as a platform to discuss concerns that new lawyers face, such as time management, conflicting assignments, and communications with supervisors. The seminar includes class presentations and simulations, periodic short reflection papers on fieldwork, and a final paper about the student’s fieldwork.

Fieldwork
Students will work alongside the Assistant Attorneys General (“AAGs”) in the bureaus for 15 hours per week, working on ongoing investigations and cases. Students are placed in one of seven bureaus (more detail is available at http://www.ag.ny.gov):

·      Civil Rights Bureau

·      Environmental Protection Bureau

·      Health Care Bureau

·      Charities Bureau

·      Consumer Frauds and Protection Bureau

Important Information
The course will be limited to 10 students to facilitate active engagement and discussion. Eligibility is limited to students in the J.D. program.
 

Rachel Kleinman and Natasha Merle, Lecturers-in-Law (2 graded academic and 3 ungraded fieldwork credits)

Course Description
The Racial Justice Externship (RJE) will engage students in legal practice at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF), the nation’s premier civil rights law organization, and in a critical examination of strategies employed to achieve racial equity and justice in two of our principal areas: economic justice and voting rights and democratic governance. LDF Students will be assigned to work on a case or matter in one of these two areas and will have an opportunity to contribute to the development and execution of comprehensive legal strategies, that may include impact litigation, policy/advocacy, strategic communications, public education and organizing. Additionally, because it is a presidential election year, all students will participate in national voter protection work organized by LDF. 

The Seminar
The weekly seminars will introduce students to multiple phases of litigation and advocacy surrounding systemic race claims, specifically in the areas of political participation and economic justice. This includes investigations of race discrimination issues, drafting of pleadings and other substantive filings, legal research and memo writing and participation in active discovery. In addition, students will develop a historical knowledge regarding the country’s foundation and the impact of this foundation on modern legal frameworks and on movements for racial justice.  

Fieldwork
Fieldwork will be performed on LDF cases or matters under the supervision of an LDF attorney or externship professor. Students are required to commit 10-15 hours per week to fieldwork and to participate in weekly meetings with their LDF Team. In addition, as part of their fieldwork, students will be provided appropriate case/matter-related public speaking opportunities and given the opportunity to travel on their cases/matters, as needed and as consistent with their academic obligations.

Important Information
The course will be limited to 8 students and will be open to JD and LL.M candidates. Students in the course are required to have taken or concurrently take Constitutional Law.

To apply, please complete the externship application available through LawNet. The application period can be found on the Experiential Learning home page (https://law.columbia.edu/academics/experiential). Prospective applicants may be contacted for an interview once all applications have been submitted.

Doris Bernhardt and Steven Louis, Lecturers-in-Law (2 graded academic and 2 ungraded fieldwork credits)

This externship is only offered in the Spring semester. 

Course Description
In this externship, students will gain firsthand experience working on litigation matters, transactional matters, or policy matters for the City of New York. The New York City Law Department handles the City’s litigation, offers advice and counsel to the Mayor, the City Council, and City agencies, and represents the City in development deals. In the past, students have drafted legislation, participated in development deals, drafted memoranda of law and litigation documents, including complaints and answers, joined City attorneys in meetings with government officials, and assisted at legislative hearings, depositions, or trials. Each student will be assigned to work at a division at the NYC Law Department for a minimum of 10 hours per week, working on issues such as lawsuits challenging the validity of the City’s regulatory laws; litigation in which the City is a plaintiff; economic development projects; discrimination, retaliation, or other employment-related claims; legislation and counseling; or juvenile delinquency matters.

The Seminar
In the seminar, students will explore the legal, policy, and ethical questions that New York City and its lawyers face. The seminar will include guest speakers and will focus on significant cases and issues that the New York City Law Department is handling or has handled, such as health policy, large economic development deals, and corrections reforms. The seminar will also review the structure of New York City’s government; the City’s lawmaking authority and processes; the tools available to City attorneys; how different parties both inside and outside of City government may influence City policy and practice; and the role of City lawyers in representing the City’s interests. For the final paper, each student will submit a proposal for a change in City law or policy and will present recommendations to the class.

Fieldwork
Each student will be assigned to one division for the duration of the course. Potential division assignments include:

  • Administrative Law: Represents the City in lawsuits that challenge the validity of its regulatory laws and the policies and decisions of the administrative agencies charged with carrying them out. Also brings civil actions and criminal proceedings against individuals and corporations that violate the City's regulatory requirements.
  • Affirmative Litigation: Represents the City in litigation in which the City is a plaintiff. Subject areas include commercial disputes; hazardous products claims; civil racketeering and fraud claims; nuisance and restitution claims; antitrust claims; and challenges against the State and federal governments on matters such as funding for public benefits programs and education.
  • Economic Development: Acts as the City’s business and transactional counsel for a wide range of projects that are intended to enhance the City’s economic base either by generating direct revenue for the City treasury or by strengthening the City’s tax base and general economic health.
  • Family Court: Handles the City’s juvenile delinquency prosecutions (children ages 7 to 15). The offenses prosecuted range from shoplifting and graffiti to more serious crimes such as assault, robbery, sex offenses, and homicide. Dispositions in Family Court focus on rehabilitation and providing appropriate services in addition to public safety.
  • Labor and Employment: Represents the City in federal and state court in litigation arising out of the City’s role as the employer of more than a quarter-million workers. Cases most frequently concern claims of discrimination or retaliation in violation of federal, state, or local anti-discrimination laws; First Amendment free speech rights of municipal employees; and claims by both individual City employees and unions based on collective bargaining agreements and State civil service law.
  • Legal Counsel: Provides advice to the Mayor’s Office and City agencies regarding the legal implications of policy initiatives and administrative reforms, as well as other legal matters. Reviews and assists in drafting City-sponsored proposed state and local legislation, and administrative rules proposed by City agencies.

Requirements and Application Process
To apply, please complete the externship application available through LawNet. The application period can be found on the Experiential Learning home page (https://law.columbia.edu/academics/experiential). Prospective applicants may be contacted for an interview once all applications have been submitted.

Any additional questions can be sent to Susan Kraham at [email protected].