McGeorge Creates Novel Coronavirus- Inspired Summer Job Program

Lexi Howard

Lexi Howard, JD ‘15, an attorney at Murphy Austin

The coronavirus altered everybody’s plans for the spring and summer of 2020. McGeorge students’ summer employment plans were no exception. However, thanks to a McGeorge alum and McGeorge’s career services team, the law school was able to step in and help students whose summer plans had gone awry.

“Around the time COVID-related closures started rolling out, law firms started pulling back and reducing staff, wages, or both. Bigger law firms were cancelling or shortening summer programs,” said Lexi Howard, JD ‘15, an attorney at Murphy Austin, “I thought this is surely going to impact students’ plans.”

But she thought back to her experience as a student and saw an opportunity. Howard remembered that, during her days as a student, she wished she had had the time to step back and do in-depth research on specific legal issues that she cared about. The memory sparked an idea that resulted in the creation of a new summer program, the McGeorge Alternative Summer Advantage Program (ASAP).

Howard approached McGeorge’s Career Development Office and, in no time, ASAP was born. Designed to help students who lost, or could not find, summer positions because of COVID-19, ASAP allowed students to focus on a topic they were interested in but wouldn’t necessarily have the opportunity to study in-depth while a student. Students were paired with expert legal professionals. The professionals mentored the students throughout their research and writing process.

Molly Stafford

Molly Stafford, Assistant Dean of Career Development and External Relations

“Working with Lexi made it easy to get the program running,” said Molly Stafford, Assistant Dean of Career Development and External Relations, “Every time I hit a road block finding a legal professional who matched a student’s interest area, Lexi was able to step in and found someone who did.”

Twenty-two McGeorge students signed up for the ASAP program and worked with legal professionals in private and public law, including a Deputy District Attorney, a Public Defender, and an Administrative Law Judge. The topics students researched and wrote included issues as diverse as California’s contentious new labor law-- AB 5, patent issues related to a COVID-19 vaccine, and 8th Amendment issues regarding prisoners experiencing gender dysphoria while incarcerated.

Mentors and mentees made an effort to consider the impacts of race in their projects. While that focus did not always manifest itself in the students’ final papers, the examination of race and its impacts was an active part of the research process.

The papers that students wrote can be found on the Career Development Office’s blog, McGeorge @ Work.