When I was looking into the opportunities offered by different law schools I noticed that not many schools were emphasizing their semester in practice programs as much as the University of Idaho. This struck me as very odd, especially considering the fact that all these institutions were constantly preaching about the necessity to get involved and network with people in the legal field.
Shortly after deciding I was going to attend the University of Idaho I took a closer look at the semester in practice program, and was quite amazed at what I discovered. In short, the semester in practice (SIP) program allows a student to receive school credits for working at a law firm, court, private business, non-profit organization or other legal-field-related job. Essentially, a student is given the opportunity to elect the number of credits he or she wishes to receive, and then works the necessary number of hours to gain said credits.
With an interest in transactional law, I chose to complete my SIP at the J.R. Simplot Company. So far I am about a month into the SIP and I have already learned so much about transactional law and what it is like to be a member of the legal profession in the "real world." I elected to take ten (10) credits of SIP, which makes me a full-time SIP student. As such, I work forty-hour weeks at Simplot. This full-time approach allows me to be fully involved with the company's legal department. Working with eight (8) attorneys and numerous paralegals has really opened my eyes to the day-to-day operation of in-house counsel work. I would highly recommend a first year student plans his or her schedule accordingly and enable themselves to complete a semester in practice.
Should some students only desire to do a part-time SIP that is permissible as well. The students completing part-time SIP's generally work a few hours a week and take classes in between. Alternatively, some SIP placements allow a student to work for a few months and then move on with their normal school schedule.
In sum, the SIP program is very flexible to a student's schedule and is something that I think all students should take advantage of. The opportunities associated with an SIP are something that a prospective law student should carefully examine when deciding which school he or she wants to attend.