Integrate classroom studies with practical experience

The Legal Studies Department believes in giving students the opportunity to integrate classroom studies with practical experience and earn credit at the same time. The Legal Studies Department’s emphasis on practical application and the political advantage of our location in Illinois’s capital city offers great professional opportunities to our students.  Examples of some of these opportunities include the Illinois Innocence Project, UIS Mock Trial, the Pre-Law Center, and multitude of internship opportunities.

The Illinois Innocence Project

Students in the Legal Studies Department (and other degree programs) can be selected to provide research and investigative assistance to the Illinois Innocence Project in cases where there is a strong likelihood that an inmate has been arrested, tried, found guilty, and imprisoned for crimes they most likely did not commit.  Legal Studies students also have the opportunity to work with the Illinois Innocence Project by taking the LES 488 – ECCE: Conviction of the Innocent course (a multi-disciplinary 4-hour credit ECCE course regularly taught by Innocence Project faculty) and by participating in student internships through Internships and Prior Learning (IPL) program.

UIS Pre-Law Center

The University of Illinois Springfield Pre-Law Center serves UIS students who are considering law school or a career in law or a law-related field. Legal Studies students have been accepted to top law schools nationwide, recently including Boston University, Cornell, Fordham, Duke, UCLA, Emory, George Washington University, University of Illinois Urbana Champaign, University of Colorado, University of Iowa, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Indiana University – Bloomington, University of Maryland, University of Minnesota, UNLV, University of North Carolina, and University of Southern California.

Picture of Elizabeth Kelly
Elizabeth Kelly, Attorney and Legal Studies Graduate

UIS Mock Trial

UIS Mock Trial

Through the UIS Mock Trial competition, legal studies students have the opportunity to learn trial advocacy and litigation skills and experience, first hand, the role of attorneys and witnesses play in the courtroom.  Students in the program learn valuable skills, including critical thinking, active listening, public speaking, and teamwork. The UIS Mock Trial Team competes against other college teams within the American Mock Trial Association (AMTA). Students also have the opportunity to take coursework associated with mock trial, including: LES 376: Trial Advocacy, LES 377: Trial Advocacy: Civil, LES 378: Mock Trial Competition, and LES 379: Mock Trial Competition: Civil.

Internship Opportunities

Undergraduate Internships

The Legal Studies Department’s emphasis on practical application and the political advantage of our location in Illinois’s capital city offers great professional opportunities to our students. For our bachelor’s degree students, we offer the Internships and Prior Learning, which offers students internship opportunities where they can gain valuable work experience, earn college credit, and have the opportunity to meet professional contacts.

Graduate Student Internships and Assistantships

Although an internship is not a required of the graduate program, our graduate students have the opportunity to garner practical experience through internships and clinical education.  

The Graduate Public Service Internship Program is ranked as one of Illinois’ premier governmental internship programs, the GPSI program provides graduate students with an opportunity for experiential learning through a public sector internship while completing a master’s degree. Interns earn a tuition waiver, partial fee waiver, and a stipend while serving as an intern.  Legal studies students enrolled in the UIS Graduate Public Service Internship Program (GPSI) may count the GPSI Seminar course towards their non-LES electives.

The Illinois Legislative Staff Intern Program is recognized as one of the top legislative internship programs in the United States, the program provides graduate level applicants with a pre-professional experience working full-time with the Illinois legislature. The program offers a paid internship along with graduate credit. Legal Studies students enrolled in the Illinois Legislative Staff Internship Program (ILSIP) may count the ILSIP: Academic Seminar towards their non-Legal Studies electives.

Graduate Assistantships are a great way for Master’s degree-seeking students to earn a monthly stipend, tuition waiver, and gain real world experience, and UIS awards approximately 60 assistantships to qualified students each year. UIS offers four types of assistantships, including: Graduate Assistantships, Graduate Teaching Assistantships, Graduate Research Assistantships, and Pre-professional Graduate Assistantships.  Graduate Assistants work on-campus in Springfield, Illinois.

LES 554: Clinical Education offers a self-directed learning and work experience in a legal setting, enabling students to develop skills necessary for success in a legal environment.  Placement options include courts, administrative agencies, state and federal attorneys’ offices, legal aid offices, private law firms, and other public interest groups. Graduate students may use credits from LES 554 towards their electives.