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College of Law launches new Washington, D.C., program


September 14, 2009

Law students from across the country can spend a semester working and studying in the nation's capital through a new Washington, D.C., Legal Externship Program established by the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law at Arizona State University in partnership with The Washington Center for Internships and Academic Seminars.

"This unique and innovative program will allow law students from around the country to take courses from nationally renowned faculty and distinguished policy leaders in Washington, D.C., while also getting a foothold in the difficult D.C. legal market through supervised externships with governmental and not-for-profit entities," says Paul Schiff Berman, dean of the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law. "I can't imagine any law student in the country with an interest in D.C. practice or federal policy work who would not want to seriously consider this program."

Berman is establishing a Dean's Advisory Council for the program, which has already been joined by deans from law schools across the United States, including those at Case Western Reserve University School of Law, Cornell Law School, Temple University Beasley School of Law, Stanford Law School, the University of Arkansas School of Law, Emory University, William and Mary School of Law, Chicago-Kent College of Law, Washington & Lee University School of Law, the University of Minnesota Law School, the William S. Boyd School of Law at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, the University of Florida Levin College of Law and the University of Tulsa College of Law.

The program, the first of its kind, will welcome applications from students at ABA-accredited law schools across the United States, and will include supervised externships arranged through The Washington Center and cutting-edge courses taught by ASU law professors. In addition to teaching the courses, ASU law professors will provide oversight and supervision consistent with American Bar Association standards.

The program is designed to help students acquire deep and practical expertise in their areas of professional interest, get an insider's view of legal and policy development in the nation's capital, and develop experience and connections that will be valued by employers in the D.C. area and elsewhere.

Students will spend approximately four and a half days per week in an externship at a governmental entity or non-profit organization in the Washington, D.C., area. ASU faculty will teach courses in areas like federal legislative and regulatory advocacy and ethics. Guest speakers will include leading attorneys from both government and the private sector.

The program is directed by Orde F. Kittrie, a tenured professor at the College of Law, who served for a decade in the Office of the Legal Adviser at the U.S. State Department, worked as a legislative assistant and press spokesman for a member of Congress, and as a student interned in Congress, the Defense Department, the State Department, a national newsmagazine and a leading think tank.

"I look forward to helping students acquire an insider's view of law and policymaking in the nation's capital, build experience and connections that will be valued by employers in the D.C. area and elsewhere, and develop leadership skills that will enable our students to be more successful in their careers, inspire them to be active in the community, and give them the tools to make a difference on issues they care about," Kittrie says.

Participating students from other law schools will apply to be visiting students at the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law and, if accepted, will receive from the College of Law the credits they earn during the semester in Washington, D.C. Tuition and fees for the semester will be the standard in-state and out-of-state rates as applicable.

In addition, the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law Washington, D.C., Legal Externship Program will provide special programming and optional housing through The Washington Center for Internships and Academic Seminars, a non-profit educational organization that has ongoing relationships with 500 American colleges and universities and already provides internships and academic seminars for more than 1,500 students each year.

"For more than 30 years, The Washington Center has been bringing students from across the country to the nation's capital to explore their careers while expanding their education," says Mike Smith, president of the Center. "Our programs are known for exposing students to the ideals of public service, and we know our new program with ASU's Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law will do the same for law students. Not only will they have the support of our entire staff, but our network of more than 40,000 alumni."

More information about the program and how to apply for it is available at http://www.law.asu.edu/wlep. The deadline for the spring 2010 semester is Oct. 15, 2009, for early consideration; Nov. 1, 2009, for final consideration. The deadline for the fall 2010 semester is May 14, 2010.

Two students from the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law who recently spent a semester in Washington, D.C., say the experience is invaluable.

Ryan Regula, a third-year law student at ASU, recently spent a semester working for U.S. Sen. Jon Kyl, (R-Ariz.), on the Terrorism, Technology and Homeland Security Subcommittee.

"I plan to go into the field of intellectual property, a niche field, but I first wanted to have a wide breadth of legal experiences," Regula says. "Through my externship, I was able to work on a variety of judicial nominations, including that of Sonia Sotomayor for the U.S. Supreme Court."

Regula said he felt like he "hit the jackpot" being able to work on a Supreme Court nomination.

Working with Kyl's chief legal counsel, Stephen Higgins, Regula helped with research on Sotomayor's cases, speeches and experience, then wrote memos on his findings.

Regula worked at the hearings, running to retrieve facts and figures as Kyl and other senators questioned Sotomayor, and greeting the nominee as she entered and left the room.

At the hearings, Regula, who attended the University of Notre Dame for his undergraduate degree, also got a chance to discuss the dynamics of religion at the Catholic university with new Sen. Al Franken, (D-Minn.).

Regula said his Washington, D.C., experience allowed him to not only be a witness to history, but also to be a part of it.

Carl Segerblom, a second-year law student, worked with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, (D-Nev.), at the Democratic Policy Committee.

Segerblom researched issues involving contracting with private entities to provide military services.

He helped the committee prepare for a hearing on the oversight of a contractor in its work to repair Iraq's oil infrastructure. At the hearing, soldiers and medical experts testified that the soldiers were exposed to sodium dichromate, a cancer-causing hexavalent chromium, and became ill as a result. They said that the contractor did not test the conditions in the area, and when they found out about the chemical, did not immediately notify the military.

Segerblom helped with research on what legislation to propose that would cover health and disability needs for the soldiers affected.

"I wanted to see what it was like to work in Washington, D.C.," Segerblom says. "I really enjoyed it, and now I hope to end up working there."

Judy Nichols, Judith.Nichols@asu.edu
(480) 727-7895
Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law