At Northeastern, all second- and third-year students leave school twice a year to practice law full time on three-month work placements known as “co-ops." Northeastern operates on a year-round quarterly calendar to permit upper-level students to complete two academic and two work quarters per year. Approximately 200 Northeastern law students are working on “co-op” each Summer, Fall, Winter and Spring quarter. Successful completion of four academic and four work quarters are requirements for graduation.
The Office of Cooperative Education administers a quarterly placement process in which more than 900 law firms, judges, public defender and legal service organizations, government agencies, corporations, unions and advocacy groups throughout the United States and abroad hire Northeastern law students. Employers are required to provide students with substantive legal work under the supervision of a licensed attorney or judge, and to complete a one-page performance evaluation at the completion of the co-op. Students must work a minimum of 35 hours a week for the equivalent of one academic quarter to receive co-op credit.
To hire co-op law students, please complete the New Employer Application Form. Existing employers seeking to update their job posting should log in to Symplicity to do so. For more information on becoming a co-op employer, please contact Jeff Smith at (617) 373-3002 or email email@example.com.
Employers determine student compensation. Salaries range widely, from volunteer positions to more than $2,500 per week for large private US law firms. In some instances, funding may be available for government and nonprofit employers through the federal Work-Study program. Students accepting volunteer public interest positions also may apply for stipends through the law school.
Effective supervision is critical to student and employer satisfaction. Co-op law students are lawyers-in-training highly motivated to learn the nuts and bolts of legal practice from experienced attorneys and judges. Each co-op employer designates an attorney-supervisor to meet regularly with the co-op law student, provide feedback on his or her work product, and to complete a co-op performance evaluation at the end of the work placement. Our 40 years of experience confirms that consistent supervisory feedback is the most important factor contributing to a co-op’s success. Our Supervision Handbook is a useful resource, and co-op staff members are available to assist supervisors at any time.
Employer evaluations of student performance are an integral part of a Northeastern co-op student’s transcript. They are an indication to the student and future employers of the student’s performance and skills. Based on continual feedback throughout the co-op work placement, nothing contained in a student evaluation should be a surprise to the student. The final evaluation should be discussed with the student during the exit interview at the completion of the co-op. Supervisors should download the Co-op Performance Evaluation Form and refer to the Co-op Performance Evaluation Instruction Memorandum for Employers. Co-op staff members are available to assist supervisors at any time.