When Zachary Gonzalez entered the LSU Law Center in 2017, he didn’t envision pursuing a career in criminal law. But after spending two summers with the Palm Beach State Attorney’s Office in West Palm Beach, Florida, as part of the Summer Field Placement Program, Gonzalez now has his sights set on becoming a federal prosecutor in his native Florida after graduation.
Gonzalez was among 126 LSU Law students who participated in the Summer Field Placement Program this year. The students were placed with judges, government agencies and nonprofit organizations across the United States—from California to Florida and Michigan to Texas—earning credits while gaining invaluable hands-on experience.
“By far the most rewarding part of my field placement was a high-profile, monthlong triple homicide trial that I was able to sit in on and observe from start to finish,” says Gonzalez. “It was a trial unlike any I had ever seen before, with the media there every day, the victims’ families sitting behind me and the defendant’s family on the other side of the courtroom. It taught me so many things that a textbook never could, and I feel like I have become a better litigator just by observing.”
Another third year LSU Law student who participated in the summer program was Candice Square, whose placement was with the Sexual Trauma Awareness and Response (STAR) nonprofit organization in Baton Rouge.
“It was definitely a very fulfilling experience,” says Square, who conducted research and assisted with several projects while with STAR. “As someone who’s interested in pursuing nonprofit work, STAR was a great fit for me.”
All LSU Law Center students are eligible to participate in the Summer Field Placement Program (formerly known as the Externship Program) after completing their first year of law school. Participants earn three academic credits, which count toward the six “experiential” credits required for graduation, after working a minimum of 120 hours at their placements.
But for students like Gonzalez, the real-world experience of a field placement has provided far more than required credits.
“After interning at the Palm Beach State Attorney’s Office these past two summers, I have a job interview with the very same office coming up,” Gonzalez says. “I am very grateful for the Field Placement Program here at LSU Law because it has provided me an unforgettable experience and employment opportunities as well.”
Get more details on the Summer Field Placement Program, and explore other field placement opportunities available at the LSU Law Center.