Washington Center

UCDC Law Program - Program Information

Program Overview

The UCDC Law Program is a uniquely collaborative, full-semester externship program in Washington, D.C. The Program includes law students from Berkeley, UCLA, UC Davis, UC Irvine, and UC Law SF. The Program combines a weekly seminar-style course with a full-time field placement to offer law students an unparalleled opportunity to learn how federal statutes, regulations, and policies are made, changed, and understood in the nation’s capital. During 14-weeks of total immersion in the theory and practice of Washington lawyering, students will have contact with all three branches of the federal government, independent regulatory agencies, and advocacy nonprofits. 

Students are eligible to receive 13 units for successful completion of the program: 10 units for the field placement and 3 units for the required companion course, “Law and Lawyering in the Nation’s Capital.” In order to receive academic credit for their externships, students must work a minimum of 14 weeks, or 560 hours, in an eligible placement. Externships must meet the following qualifications:

  • Student externs must work under the direct supervision of an attorney.
  • The externship site must be an organization that is directly involved in federal law or judiciary either legislative, executive, regulatory, or advocacy work.
  • The externship supervisor must adhere to an educational experience consistent with the UCDC Law Externship Agreement.

Seminar Description

The seminar is designed to enhance the externship experience in three principal ways. First, students will learn about the process of federal lawmaking directly from leading government lawyers, lobbyists, and public interest advocates. Second, they will explore new career opportunities unique to lawyering in Washington, even as they enhance their professional skill sets. Third, they will investigate the unique roles  lawyers in Washington play in making and changing federal law and policy.

Class sessions include frequent guest speakers and class discussion based on students’ questions. Throughout the semester we will also have classes devoted to a “grand round”-style exchange to facilitate peer-to-peer learning about lawyering at the broad range of externship sites. The seminar will include four short writing assignments as well as a student presentation. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What fees does the UCDC Law Program charge participating students?

Students in the UCDC Law Program pay no fees other than the instructional fees charged by their home campuses. These do not exceed the amount paid for the same number of units on campus. Students interested in coming to Washington, D.C. should budget for living expenses, which may be higher than those in California, air travel, and transit expenses incurred while commuting to and from work. A transit expense calculator can be found at www.wmata.com.

What do I need to know about security clearances?

Many government externship sites, such as the State Department, Department of Justice, and White House, require that students obtain security clearances as a condition of employment. Applicants should be aware that these clearances can take several weeks and may delay their externship start dates. Students are strongly encouraged to be proactive in checking with their supervisors to ensure that their clearance is being processed in a timely manner and should be aware that factors such as dual citizenship, drug use in the past five years, late credit card payments, and past arrests may cause delays.

A PowerPoint presentation with additional information about the UCDC Law Program is available here.