Academic Policies Guide

Working as a Research Assistant for a Law School Professor

Credit Requirements

  • Full-time faculty members may offer JD and/or LLM students the opportunity to work as research assistants (RAs) for monetary compensation or, if the professor deems it appropriate based on the nature of the work, for academic credit.
  • The decision of whether an RA assignment will be for academic credit or monetary compensation must be made before the assignment commences.  It may not be changed from credit earning to monetary once work has begun under any circumstances, including if an RA fails to meet the requirements for earning the credit(s).  Per federal regulations, I-9s must be completed within three days of hire and time worked for pay must be reported in real time.  As such, retroactive employment is not permitted. Student R.A.s who work for monetary compensation need to comply with a number of administrative requirements that are set forth in
  • All credits earned for RA work must be graded on a credit/fail basis.
  • For RA work to qualify for academic credit, a student must do enough work to earn at least one academic credit, which requires a minimum of 45 hours of work. That work must be performed during the school year, and not during the summer. The work does not need to be completed in a single semester; it can be spread across semesters or even across academic years.
  • When students work as RAs, they must maintain careful records of the number of hours they work.

Registering and Credit Maximums 

  • In order for a student to be registered as an RA for academic credit, the professor must submit:

    1)  a description of the anticipated scope of the research for credit project to the Office of Records and Registration in the form of a brief single-page memo that explains the nature of the work, including the type of research tasks and memos or other work expected of the student.

    2)  an online form for the Office of Records and Registration. All full-time faculty will receive an email in the summer with the link to the online form. Students should provide the professor with their NetID as the online form will ask for this information.

    When the Office of Records and Registration receives the above documents, they will register the student for the RA credit(s).  
  • Although ordinarily credits in excess of 90 credits may require additional payment per credit, credits earned for RA work are exempt from this rule.
  • A JD student may count a maximum of two RA credits per academic year (and an overall maximum of four RA credits during law school) towards meeting the JD requirement of a minimum of 83 credits for graduation, and the non-classroom credit maximum of 19 credits.
  • An LLM student may count a maximum of two RA credits towards the minimum of 24 credits needed for graduation.
  • However, a student can exceed these limits by receiving authorization from both the professor and the Office of Academic Services (JD students) or the Office of Graduate Affairs (LLM students) to treat the excess credits as not counting towards the minimum number of credits needed for graduation.