Government Anti-Corruption Externship

LW.12769 / LW.12770
Professor Rachel Pauley
Professor Jennifer Rodgers
Open to 2L, 3L and LLM students
Maximum of 14 students
Spring semester
5 credits*
No prerequisites or co-requisites.

Course Description

Public corruption - the abuse of entrusted power for private gain - undermines democracy, violates the public trust, and is inextricably intertwined with a wide variety of societal ills, including human rights abuses and the deterioration of standards of living worldwide. The Externship on Government Anti-Corruption Programs provides students with an opportunity to participate in efforts by a wide variety of anti-corruption authorities to identify and combat corruption in federal, state, and local government here in the U.S., and in an international context at the United Nations, and to examine the different approaches and jurisdictions of the various agencies. Through their fieldwork and the seminar, students will gain a detailed understanding of government anti-corruption efforts and their efficacy, will be able to identify areas where gaps, redundancies, and structural problems hinder those efforts, and should develop ideas about ways in which to solve some of the identified problems. The class provides 5 graded credits: 2 academic seminar credits and 3 clinical credits. The seminar grade will be based 50% on class participation and 50% on writing assignments. The writing assignments will be comprised of 3 reflection papers (each being a maximum of 2 pages, double-spaced) spaced throughout the semester (for which we will give you a specific prompt), and one 5-8 page paper on a relevant topic of your choice (to be approved by us in advance), which will be due on a date TBD towards the end of the semester. The fieldwork grade will be determined by us in consultation with your supervising attorneys.

Fieldwork


Students will spend approximately 15 hours per week at an anti-corruption agency chosen with guidance from the instructors. Students will work with attorneys in the field, learning how the public integrity professionals in these offices investigate and respond to corruption, and participating in those efforts. In each placement, the student will be under the direct supervision of a government attorney, and we will make sure that students receive meaningful work and a significant amount of feedback. We will also ensure that students have ample opportunity for professional development, including goal-setting and self-reflection. The agencies we select will comprise the primary local, state, and federal entities in New York that handle matters of public integrity and ethics, each doing so from a unique perspective and wielding unique jurisdiction and powers. Some of the agencies are investigatory agencies, some are prosecutors’ offices, some focus on oversight and regulation, and some do a combination of these tasks. Students, for example, may work on investigations, criminal cases, regulation of elections, or civil cases, among a wide variety of other areas in the public integrity field.

The agencies expected to be available for students participating in the externship this semester are as follows, and other agencies may be added as appropriate:

  • US Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York, Public Corruption Unit;
  • US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, Public Corruption Unit;
  • U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Enforcement Division
  • Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Office of Inspector General;
  • New York State Attorney General’s Office, Public Integrity Bureau;
  • New York State Office of the Comptroller;
  • New York State Office of the Inspector General;
  • New York State Joint Commission on Public Ethics;
  • New York City Business Integrity Commission;
  • New York City Campaign Finance Board;
  • New York City Department of Investigation;
  • New York City Office of the Comptroller;
  • New York County (Manhattan) Office of the District Attorney, Economic Crimes Bureau;
  • New York County (Manhattan) Office of the District Attorney, Police Accountability Unit;
  • King’s County (Brooklyn) Office of the District Attorney, Conviction Review Unit;
  • Office of the Inspector General for the New York City Police Department (part of the NYC Department of Investigation);
  • Office of the Inspector General for the New York City School Construction Authority; and
  • United Nations’ Office of Internal Oversight Services.

In the interview, we will ascertain each student’s interests in terms of placement agencies, and we will do our best to match students with one of their top choices. LLM students from outside of the US will be more limited in the agencies in which they can work, because many governmental agencies require US citizenship for externs; the UN Office of Internal Oversight Enforcement Services is one office that does not require US citizenship.

Seminar

The seminar will meet for two hours weekly, and will involve lecture, discussion, and experiential learning components. Students will learn how each of the field placement agencies fits into the broader anti-corruption effort through discussion about and simulation exercises involving the various legal mechanisms in place to combat corruption, the roles of each of the placement agencies (and other relevant offices), and actual case studies. In the seminar, students will also interact with guest speakers from federal, state, and local agencies and the UN to enhance the lessons of that particular class, and to ensure that students are considering all of the relevant entities and all possible approaches to dealing with the public corruption problem. Guest speakers will be invited from representative anti-corruption agencies to highlight the different mechanisms that exist at various government levels to combat corruption. With students approaching public corruption matters from a variety of perspectives, the seminar component will be an opportunity for enriched consideration of and learning about the ways in which these complex issues are handled.

A typical breakdown of a seminar session might be: 25 minutes of lecture/discussion, a 30-minute experiential learning exercise, a 10-minute break, and 55 minutes of being joined by a guest speaker for conversation and Q&A. Experiential learning may include role playing exercises, policy debates, and crafting relevant hypos in advance for guest speakers.

To give one example from a past semester, we could have lecture/discussion about the existence or lack thereof of external oversight of local prosecutors’ offices and what some offices are doing to try to create internal oversight instead (i.e. Conviction Review Units), hold a policy debate on New York State’s Commission on Prosecutorial Conduct (the first of its kind in the country, it was recently signed into law but is not yet up and running) to provide external oversight where each student takes a different position and argues their point for 3 minutes, and then welcome an expert guest speaker, like the chief of the Conviction Review Unit at a local DA’s office, to discuss their experiences and thoughts on all of the above.   

In another example from last year, we could discuss inter-branch oversight in the federal system, with particular emphasis on Congress’s oversight of the executive branch (including both executive branch officeholders and the agencies), particularly given the many recent examples of clashes between the branches during two impeachment hearings in the Trump era and the work of the still ongoing 1/6 Special Committee, and then welcome a speaker like Dan Goldman (a former federal prosecutor who served as Chief Investigator for the House Intelligence Committee during the first impeachment of former President Trump) to discuss the challenges of Congress’s oversight role in the Trump era, answer questions, and engage in a lightning round of fielding hypotheticals that each student crafted in advance to tease out the parameters of what Congress is supposed to be doing, and what it is actually capable of doing when faced with significant obstruction.

Application Procedure

Students interested in applying should submit the standard application, resume, and transcript online through CAMS. Selected applicants will be invited to interview. If you have questions regarding the externship, please contact Rachel Pauley or Jennifer Rodgers.

The application period for LL.M.s will take place at a time TBD. There is a separate application form for LL.M. students. Please use that form and submit it along with a resume and unofficial transcript to CAMS. Selected LL.M. students will be contacted for interviews in the summer as part of the selection process. As noted above, many of the governmental placement offices we partner with for our Government Anti-Corruption Programs Clinic do not accept interns who are not U.S. citizens, but a few do, including the United Nations Office of Internal Oversight Services, the NYC Comptroller, and the NYS Comptroller.

Student Contacts

The following students participated in the Spring 2022 clinic:

Julia Bruce
Hannah Colter
Danielle Eiger
Aaron Fisher
Catherine Larrabee
Mario Lercari
Caolinn Majza
Sebastian Peskind
Aaron Pultman
Hayley Rassuchine
Maggie Shields
Mary Trainor 


* 5 credits include 3 clinical credits and 2 academic seminar credits.