Experiential Credit Petition
To: UNT Dallas College of Law Curriculum Committee
As part-time evening students in a law program, making the decision to attend law school required sacrifices across several areas of our life including our family and our careers. While we began law school with a full understanding of what it would take to successfully complete the program, we were also promised that allowances would be made so that we could still successfully manage other areas of our life.
We the undersigned find that the current requirements for the clinic or externship programs are unrealistic for part-time evening students to successfully complete. While we want to complete the school's and the ABA's requirements for experiential learning, we also request that our time and priorities be respected.
As part-time evening students, the current requirements as definitions of the clinic and externship requirement presents three problems:
1. Several evening students already work in the legal field, under the supervision of an attorney, yet the current definition of an externship does not allow for these students to use their jobs to satisfy the externship requirement.
2. The hours required to complete the clinic or externship are unrealistic for part-time evening students. We work 40+ hours per week and have already had to put school ahead of our careers and families to meet the demands necessary to graduate. The current requirements for the externship and clinic are nearly impossible to attain.
- Since part-time students are not able to complete the current required hours that must be dedicated to the clinic or externship program in one semester, this presents a problem for students on financial aid or reimbursement from their employer who must successfully complete a class to receive a reimbursement for enrolling in future classes at the law school.
We would like to have a greater understanding of how the school's experiential learning requirements differ from the ABA's. The ABA requires six hours of experiential learning and this type of learning as defined by the ABA should allow some or all of our Practice Foundations courses to count towards experiential learning. (ABA Standards 303(a)(3), 303(b), and 304) We would also like to engage in an open, respectful dialogue with school faculty and administration on finding a solution to this problem. While we are willing to work to find a solution we can all agree on, we would also like to propose the following solutions:
1. That the definition of the externship requirement be expanded to align with the ABA's recent lift to include for-profit positions so that students who already work under the supervision of an attorney can use their job to count towards the externship requirement. This will benefit both part-time and full-time students
2. That the total hours required to complete the clinic (clinic time, class time, time spent outside of class writing papers) or externship be reduced to something manageable by evening students and that it reflect what other evening law school programs across the country employ.
- That part-time evening students be allowed to complete two practicums in place of the clinic or externship.
We look forward to continuing this conversation with members of the law school faculty and administration to determine a solution in a timely and respectful manner.
UNT Dallas College of Law Students