Participating in a practicum at the Education Law Center was one of the most enriching experiences I’ve had at Temple.
I first learned about this practicum from the Temple Law School practicum website. I had come to law school really interested in Education Law. I had heard amazing things about the Education Law Center and I knew it was a leader in fighting for civil and educational rights of students and families. So, when I saw this practicum, I knew I had to apply.
The Education Law Center practicum is 3 credits and 10 hours per week. I went to their office twice a week for 5 hours at a time. They just got a new office and it’s beautiful! It’s right in Center City, down the street from City Hall. The first few days of the practicum, you get a really in-depth orientation where you learn about the organization, special education law, and the realities of education in the Philadelphia area. You are then trained in making intake calls for the organization. After orientation and training, the bulk of work you do is client intake calls and legal research and writing. Sometimes, you are asked to edit and cite-check for a paper the organization is publishing, or a brief they’re filing with the court. You are also part of team meetings, which is a great way to get an inside look at how the organization makes decisions.
One of the great parts about this practicum is that there are no prerequisites. As long as you’re interested, you can apply! Another great part is the “check-in” you have with your faculty supervisor. The practicum requires a faculty supervisor. There are two fantastic education law professors at Temple, Kristen Murray and Len Rieser. You can also choose another professor to work with. I chose to work with Professor Nancy Knauer. I emailed her weekly summaries of my work, including one good thing from the week and one thing I learned from.
I’ve gained so much from this experience. The most important thing I learned was how to interact with clients. When clients contact the Education Law Center, they are usually very passionate about what they want for their students and children regarding their education. They are reaching out to the organization for assistance throughout that process. I learned listening, communication, and critical thinking skills through my client interactions. I also gained a lot of knowledge about special education law and what rights are guaranteed to students and families. In fact, whenever I talked to my friends and family about my experiences at the Education Law Center, I surprised myself at how much I had learned. Overall, the experience made me more aware of the realities of education in Philadelphia and fueled my passion to continue fighting for a more equitable education system.