In addition to classroom and clinic work (which is considered “hard” credit), students may engage in other non-classroom experiences that will add to their understanding of the law, legal process, and legal scholarship. There is a total limit of six credits (nine for the Classes of 2012 and 2013) for all these unscheduled, or "soft" credit, undertakings together. (Of course, students may exceed this limit of six unscheduled credits — nine for the Class of 2013 — but such excess credit will not count toward the 84 credits required for graduation.)
Grades in all such enterprises, other than Independent Research and Research Assistants, are Pass/“F.” (But note: an election of the Pass/“D”/“F” option in a regularly scheduled class does not render the credit earned in that enterprise soft.) Carefully review the registration materials for each semester to check for any further explanations. Following are the enterprises that earn “soft” credit that students commonly undertake in the course of their studies.
- Externships: Students may register for two or three credits per semester to extern for a federal judge or magistrate, or a New Jersey judge or justice at the Superior Court level or above. There is a mandatory seminar component of this enterprise, which is supervised by Dean Bravo-Weber. There are also formal externships with the Attorney General’s Office and with the National Labor Relations Board, and there is an Intellectual Property externship as well. Dean Bravo-Weber coordinates the formal externship program. All externships earn unscheduled (“soft”) credit only.
- Field Placements: Field placements for credit must be with a non-profit or government agency and must provide students with educationally related, practical work experience and on-the-job training in a supervised workplace setting in which students will receive meaningful, individualized feedback concerning their work from a licensed attorney. Prior to beginning the field placement, students must identify a Rutgers school of law faculty field placement advisor (a full-time faculty member) and obtain approval by completing a field placement form signed by the faculty advisor and Dean Rossner and submitting to Dean Garbaccio. Students must complete 70 hours of work at the placement for each credit hour and attend the Field Placement seminar. All field placement externships earn unscheduled (“soft”) credit only.
- Independent Research: Students may register for up to three credits per project in supervised research with a full-time faculty member, but not with adjunct faculty, visitors and staff attorneys. Students are expected to produce a work of substantial scholarship, or complete a directed reading comparable to that of a course or seminar with appropriate written accountability. Students should be aware that faculty members may not sponsor more than five such projects each semester. Projects intended to be written to gain admission as an editor on one of the Law School scholarly journals are limited to two credits. (Consult the journals for further details.) All independent research endeavors earn unscheduled (“soft”) credit only.
- Research Assistants: Students may assist full-time faculty for two or three credits per project where a substantial portion of the student’s work involves independent inquiry and analysis. All research assistantships earn unscheduled (“soft”) credit only.
- Teaching Assistants: Students may assist faculty in particular courses, including acting as MSP facilitators, for up to two credits per semester. All teaching assistantships earn unscheduled (“soft”) credit only.
- Competitions: Students may earn credit for intramural and interscholastic competitions which involve research, drafting, oral presentation, coaching or other substantive activities. Generally, intramural competitions will earn one credit, interscholastic competitions will earn two credits. Additional credit is awarded for advanced competition. There is a maximum of three credits per competition. Members of Competition Boards who research and draft problems, engage in other research activities or coach student competitors are eligible for up to two credits per semester for such work. All competition-based work earns unscheduled (“soft”) credit only.
CAVEAT: If you are a member of the Rutgers Law Review, the Rutgers Computer and Technology Law Journal, the Rutgers Race & the Law Review, the Rutgers Law Record or the Women's Rights Law Reporter, you are eligible for up to six credits for your work. For the Classes of 2012 and 2013, three of those six credits will be counted towards the nine credits available for unscheduled coursework described above. For students entering in Fall 2011 and later, all journal credit will be treated as “soft” credit. Also note: none of the six credits earned on a journal and no other unscheduled credits are counted toward the 60 required credits in non-clinic, law school courses described above. (See Sixty Credit In-Class Law Course Requirement for more information.)