Guidelines for Sponsors
Description of Work
The purpose of an internship is to provide a student with firsthand experience in the areas of public policy, environmental law and science. It must include some writing assignments. Because our students’ backgrounds are so diverse, individual interns have different capabilities. Generally speaking, students are most useful performing legal research and preparing memoranda, collecting and analyzing data, preparing for and attending administrative hearings and court proceedings.
(late August to early December) 15 weeks.
When to post your openings: spring and early summer.
(mid-January to mid-May) 15 weeks.
When to post your openings: summer and early fall.
(flexible; mid-May or early June to early or mid August) 8 to 14 weeks.
When to post your openings: fall or early spring.
Arrangements can be made individually with the student(s). Most sponsors require resumes and writing samples before scheduling interviews. Interviews should take place at least one term before the internship is scheduled to start.
The student will be in contact with his/her faculty sponsor on a regular basis before the internship begins and throughout the internship. Students are required to keep journals reflecting on the days they work and submit these journals to their faculty sponsors on a bi-weekly basis. Please feel free to call the faculty sponsor with any questions or problems you may have.
The student will earn credit for successfully completing work required and by working a certain number of hours. In the fall and spring semesters, one credit is equal to three hours of work each week, over 15 weeks. In the summer term, 45 hours equals one credit.
Supervision and Evaluation of Work
Structure the internship so that it is clear to the intern what your expectations are, and provide the intern with regularly scheduled supervision including discussions of work problems and development. It may take a few initial meetings to determine what assignments are both challenging to the intern and appropriate to his or her level of skill.
Meet with the intern on a regular basis, such as bi-weekly. At mid-term, a formal evaluation meeting with the intern and phone contact or a letter to the faculty sponsor should take place. Within two weeks after the end of the term, a detailed written letter of evaluation should be mailed to the faculty sponsor. If evaluations are not complete by that date, the intern receives an Incomplete on the transcript. If not received by the end of the following term, the intern receives an automatic F.
The pass/fail standard should be used. Your job is to recommend a grade to the faculty sponsor. If you have any questions about evaluation, give the faculty sponsor a call. The letter of evaluation and grading should stress the intern’s writing and oral advocacy skills, legal and technical research capabilities, judgement, responsibility, and maturity. Your letter of evaluation is confidential. Please provide the intern with a copy of the evaluation if you wish the intern to receive one.
The intern is required to submit a sample of written work completed during the internship to the faculty sponsor. You may want to assist the intern to selecting this work product. If confidentiality is an issue, the intern can black out names, etc.
The student is required to prepare an Internship Contract before the internship begins. We provide contract guidelines to follow which are similar to these guidelines. The contract is reviewed and signed by whoever will be supervising the student’s work at your office as well as the faculty sponsor and the student.
The American Bar Association does not allow students to be paid for those activities for which they receive academic credit. However, students are paying for each internship credit at the same rate as paying for coursework. The ABA allows students to receive stipends to cover expenses such as relocation costs and housing. Stipends are not technically compensation for work performed and therefore students should not appear on the organization’s payroll or have taxes taken out. Not all internship sponsors are able to provide stipends. However, whenever possible we encourage sponsors to do so.
Feel free to call the Environmental Law Center at any time with questions:
MELP/LLM Internship Coordinator
Environmental Law Center
Vermont Law School