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The Justice & Diversity Center

1L Open Doors Job Shadow Program

The 2018 1L Open Doors Job Shadow dates are March 5-7, 2018. 

Aimed at opening doors of opportunity for diverse law students, Open Doors strives to help 1L law students enrolled in San Francisco law schools jumpstart their professional development through early, day-to-day immersion in dynamic legal organizations.  In its third year, Open Doors started with 17 employers participating and grew to over 45 in 2016 from the private, public, corporate, and nonprofit sectors.

The Bar Association of San Francisco, University of San Francisco School of Law, UC Hastings College of the Law, and Golden Gate University School of Law believe that early exposure to practitioners and professional environments is essential to launching students’ career advancement. The Open Doors program seeks to facilitate that key step.

Frequently asked questions about the program:

What is the program?  The Open Door program is a job shadowing opportunity during law school spring break to give first-year law students an inside view into the daily lives of lawyers. The program seeks to include students who may have had limited prior exposure to professional settings.

How long does the program last?  The program runs the first three days of spring break.

How do students get to participate? 1Ls from the three participating schools will be invited to submit an application describing their interest in participation.  Applications will be reviewed for eligibility and inclusion.

Who can serve as program hosts? Host organizations include private law firms, nonprofit public interest organizations, in-house legal departments, government agencies and courts.

How are students matched with hosts? Once selected, students rank the categories of employers registered and also indicate any geographic preferences. Students are then assigned a placement based on a combination of those preferences and availability, as well as other information provided in their applications.

Will employers and their students meet before the program begins? Yes. Participating employers will be sent an email introducing your student as well as their resume to provide a bit of background information. You will then separately be connected to the student via email so that you can provide any information needed about timing, logistics, confidentiality agreement, etc.

Are students paid to participate? Do they receive academic credit? No, and no. Unlike an internship, an externship (for academic credit), or a job, students do not perform work for the host organization during this program. Instead they shadow, observe and interact with attorneys and other employees.

How do we ensure that students maintain the confidentiality of information they are exposed to?  In the program orientation, organizers discuss the crucial nature of maintaining the confidentiality of information the students may encounter during the program. Students will also be signing a general participation agreement with each school that confirms they will maintain appropriate professional conduct and that they will abide by any restrictions placed on them by their host organizations. Host organizations are encouraged to determine if they would like to have students sign a confidentiality agreement, which could be accomplished either via email before the student’s arrival or upon arrival.

Does the student need to shadow one attorney? Assigning the student one attorney or other employee who could serve as the main contact would be helpful. That way if the student has any questions or the schedule of activities needs to be changed, the student knows whom to contact.

What are some possible activities the students might do? There are a wide range of shadowing and interactive activities the students can do, including:

  • Informational interviews with attorneys of different levels to discuss the attorneys’ career steps, current work, and advice to aspiring attorneys
  • Sitting in on client meeting or call
  • Observing part of a deposition
  • Observing an administrative or court argument, trial or other hearing
  • Sitting in on a case/deal/project/policy team meeting
  • Prior to one of these observations, reviewing key documents, briefs, deal papers, that are to be discussed
  • Skimming a case or deal file with a junior attorney to understand its component parts and the progress of the matter
  • Attending any activities the organization is hosting, such as CLEs, trainings, or social events
  • Learning about pro bono work the organization undertakes
  • Discussing with an established attorney how he/she networks, builds business or participates in the broader legal community
  • Meeting with staff members (paralegals, legal secretaries, docket clerks, investigators, etc.) to understand their part of the organization

Read more about the program:

“Open Doors” 1L Job Shadow Program Launched

Open Doors 1L Job Shadow Program Expands in 2016

Three Day Job Shadow Program Set for 2017


If you would like to serve as an employer host or if you would like more information, please contact