Practicum courses offer students an opportunity to work on projects or cases under the direction of a supervising attorney, while studying law in action in an associated seminar. These courses provide a wonderful opportunity for students to become substantive experts on a particular topic, cultivate a range of skills, and begin to develop a professional identity. They allow students to build networks that can be tapped for future internships and jobs. And they foster in students the confidence they need to work as lawyers upon graduation. In these ways, practicum courses serve as a bridge between the law school classroom and the legal profession.
Practicum courses take one of two forms: students are placed in fieldwork consistent with the subject matter of the course or students work on a project with their teacher, a practicing lawyer in the field. The practicum includes a seminar that uses the students' experience as text and
prepares students for their work experiences—by familiarizing them with the relevant substantive frameworks (both legal and non-legal), as well as the skills they will employ (again, both legal and non-legal). Students reflect on their work experiences in a supportive classroom environment with professors and classmates who are engaged in similar professional undertakings.
The practicum program benefits tremendously from Georgetown Law's location in Washington D.C. and its connection to experts who are willing to bring students into their work. We offer a practicum on mediation, for example, in which students are trained, supervised and act as mediators on cases filed with the U.S. Office of Special Counsel. Other practicum students conduct research for a member of the U.N. Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. Students use specialized technology to develop legal apps to assist various governmental and non-governmental organizations in their work. And students are placed within a number of different congressional offices on Capitol Hill and study how law is made in the companion seminar.