The goal of Baylor Law School’s Field Placement Program is to broaden law students’ education by offering opportunities to apply the knowledge and skills gained from academic studies to the rigors of legal practice in a real‐life setting. Field Placements bridge the gap between the law school setting and the practice of law to better prepare students to immediately step into their role as proficient attorneys. Field Placements also offer students the opportunity to further develop substantive legal knowledge and analytical skills, observe and improve their understanding of professional responsibility and professionalism, gauge their strengths and weaknesses, and clarify professional goals.
Each field placement enables students to develop an experiential understanding of what lawyers and judges do and how they do it, by observing and assisting with their work. Additionally, field placement programs provide students with an opportunity to see how analytical skills and doctrinal knowledge are used in practice. In particular, these programs enhance students’ understanding of how ethics, strategy, tactics and judgment influence decision‐making by lawyers and judges. Field placement programs also encourage students to develop technical lawyering skills, such as client interviewing, client counseling, investigation, alternative dispute resolution, legal writing, research, and trial and appellate advocacy.
Judicial field placements are available in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas (Waco Division) and several local courts. Criminal clinical experience may be gained in field placement programs offered in the offices of the Limestone County District Attorney and the McLennan County District Attorney and the office of the Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Texas in Waco. The Lone Star Legal Aid Office in Waco offers students the opportunity to assist with poverty-level clients in legal matters under the supervision of a staff attorney.
Students also have the opportunity to participate in Baylor Law’s In-House Practice Field Placement Program in the fall and spring quarters. This program serves as an introduction to in-house counsel practice by exposing students to in-house practice in a real-world setting as well as in a classroom setting. Students spend a minimum of 72 hours observing and working under the supervision of an in-house lawyer in the private sector. The classroom component focuses on substantive legal issues commonly encountered by in-house counsel in corporate law departments as well as ethical issues and practical skills, such as working with outside counsel, identifying and dealing with conflicts of interest, preserving attorney-client privilege in the in-house context, drafting and negotiating contracts, and conducting internal investigations.