Overview

Consistent with University policies and with the safety measures set out below, the University of Maine School of Law will re-open to small groups of students for in person classes and events starting the last week of August, 2020. Please note the following:

  • Law School classes during the fall semester may be delivered in person, online, or in a combination of formats, depending on class enrollment and teaching considerations.
  • To assure the confidence and safety of our student body, all students may elect to take any course online, except for those Clinic courses or externships that require some personal presence due to the nature of the work done by students in those courses. Students enrolled in those courses who are concerned about in person participation requirements should consult with course instructors and may transfer out of those classes.
  • Priority for COVID-19 compliant in person classes and student gatherings will be provided to incoming 1L students, and some of the small seminar classes may also be available in person for upper level students when they can be safely accommodated within the building.
  • After the Thanksgiving break any remaining classes will be online only, and fall exams will all be online and held as currently scheduled.
  • If, at any time, safety requires more extensive distancing or isolation, all classes may be transferred to being fully online during the semester.

 


We have compiled some Frequently Asked Questions about the fall semester below. This FAQ page will be updated frequently as we move closer to the start of the fall semester.  Do you have a question that is not listed? Submit your question(s) to mainelaw@maine.edu.


Frequently Asked Questions

General

Specific to the building, we are making many modifications, including but not limited to:

  • Dozens of hand sanitizer stations are being placed throughout the Law School building;
  • Paper towel dispensers have replaced the air dryers;
  • Directional signage will limit the gathering and proximity of people in hallways and stairwells;
  • New study and carrel spacing will provide appropriate physical distancing;
  • Facilities staff are conducting a thorough review of the building’s systems to ensure proper air quality and circulation;
  • Plexiglass shields will be installed at the library circulation desk and in reception areas;
  • Classroom capacity and building capacity will be limited and signage will be in place;
  • Social distancing will be enforced in and out of the classroom. Students may need to sign in or sign out to be present outside of designated class times;
  • A detailed protocol will be in place for building use, including traffic control.

We are following Maine CDC guidelines, state laws, and University of Maine System policies.

Depending on the course of the pandemic and the number of cases in Maine, we may need to adjust our protocols to protect the health and safety of our students, faculty, and staff. Protocols will be in place for dealing with COVID-19 illness.

  • Stay at home if you feel sick. Everyone will be required to symptom monitor before coming to the Law School. You must be free of any symptoms potentially related to COVID-19.
  • Wear a face covering at all times when in the building, unless you are alone in a private office or are at a work space with no one else around.
  • Wash your hands frequently or use hand sanitizer that is at least 60% alcohol based.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, mouth, and face.
  • Cover your cough and sneeze with your elbow or with a tissue.
  • Avoid out of state travel if at all possible.
  • Practice physical distancing and avoid close contact with others, especially in groups or crowded places.
Yes, the Law School Building is still closed to students and members of the public while we finalize plans and the physical layout of the building. We are developing plans to maximize our ability to allow students to have a quiet place to study. We are also working on how we can assist members of the public with their legal research needs once the fall semester starts..
We will be guided by Maine CDC guidelines, state laws, and University of Maine System policies. Depending on the course of the virus and the number of cases in Maine, we may need to adjust our protocols to protect the health and safety of our students, faculty, and staff. Any member of the public, including contractors and guests, will be required to observe the same safety measures as students, staff, and faculty.

The University of Maine System just announced a partnership with Jackson Laboratory and ConvenientMD for COVID-19 Testing Services. Additional information on this will be available soon.

Face coverings are required. If a student needs an accommodation, they will need to contact USM’s Office of Disability Services.
As with any illness, the Law School will provide support for students who are ill with Covid-19. Student Services will assess whether a temporary adjustment to coursework or an approved disability accommodation is needed. Usually, conditions that are temporary (such as a cold or flu) are not considered disabilities under the ADA. A short-term illness or other impairment may qualify as a disability if it is severe or impacts an individual long-term. If students need more than a temporary adjustment, they will be referred to the Disability Services Center (DSC) at USM.

Courses

  • Most 1L classes will be held in person/hyflex. There will likely be 4 sections, and in rotation, 1 of the sections will attend each class in person, while the other 3 (or the other section 1, for split classes like LRAC and Contracts) sections will attend the class remotely.  When a professor for the course determines that an online class is beneficial, in person classes will be moved online.
  • Most upper-level classes will be taught online, with a mix of asynchronous and synchronous content. When the professor for the course determines that an in person class is beneficial, that professor will work with administration to make sure the class can be offered safely. Students will not be required to attend those in person classes, but will have the option to do so.

Quality legal education will be provided to all students regardless of the format.

  • In Person or “hyflex” (meaning that some students will be in the classroom and others remote) classes will be held when appropriate to the course content, and when it can be done in a way that is consistent with health and safety protocols.
  • Our ability to do so is greatly enhanced by our new Learning Management System (LMS), Brightspace. Faculty have been trained on using Brightspace and the best pedagogical practices for online teaching. They are excited to deliver a quality program of legal education this fall!
  • Classes for which in person learning is the preferred delivery method will be held in person to the extent possible. This includes skills classes (e.g. Trial Practice) and Practicums (e.g. Appellate Litigation Practicum). All in person classes will be coordinated by faculty to ensure safety and compliance with established protocols.
All Law School classes will begin on August 31, 2020. Orientation for entering 1Ls will begin on August 26th and run through the 28th. No in person classes will be held after Thanksgiving. The faculty will ensure that all course material will be covered, either by holding online class sessions after Thanksgiving, holding make-up class sessions before Thanksgiving, or incorporating online  modules.
Fall exams will all be online and will be held as currently scheduled.

The courses offered through the Cumberland Legal Aid Clinic (General Practice Clinic, Juvenile Justice Clinic, Refugee & Human Rights Clinic, and Prisoner Assistance Clinic) present a different set of considerations for our fall planning. These are experiential courses in which the primary learning takes place through the representation of actual clients with actual legal matters under the close supervision of the clinical faculty.

Students enrolled in this course are admitted to practice as student attorneys and take on the full responsibilities of an attorney. While most of the work of students enrolled in clinical courses can and will be effectively conducted remotely this fall, there are some aspects of the clinical experience that will require the students’ regular presence on campus and may require appearing in person for court or agency hearings.

Students enrolled in clinical courses will be hearing from the clinical faculty in the very near future to learn more about the plans for the fall semester. Any questions should be directed to the clinical faculty.

Depending on the work expected of the student in the placement, certain externships will require some in person participation this fall. Rachel Reeves, director of field placements, will be in touch with students for specific information regarding placements this fall.
Except for clinical courses and certain externships, students will be able to attend class remotely due to personal preferences or health concerns.
The fall semester grading policy will return to normal.
All Maine Law faculty and staff will be available to meet with students, and most meetings will happen virtually over Zoom.

Maine Law requires that each student have a laptop, which should be sufficiently equipped to be used to support essential research, classroom, and communications tasks.  All law students are permitted a one-time budget allowance of up to $2500 for the purchase of a personal computer that meets the Law School’s minimum specifications through the Grad PLUS loan program. Computers can be purchased with an educational discount through USM’s educational discount. Student Edition software can also be purchased at a discount rate. Office365 license is FREE.

Internet  service will be a critical need this semester. If you need help in devising a budget so you can afford quality internet service, please reach out to Assistant Dean Nicole Vinal for assistance.

We strongly encourage students to think about purchasing an external monitor for their laptop as well as a headset with microphone and an external webcam for easier online learning.

Community and Events

The SBA and the Office of Student Services will work together to find ways for student groups to have online programming, which may include lunchtime events, as well as small, in person events if done while following all Maine CDC guidelines. We encourage all students to be active participants in the SBA meetings and regularly scheduled Maine Law Town Halls. Town Hall dates will be announced soon.

Unfortunately, the Coffin Lecture and the Constitution Day events will not be in person events this year. We will host them in a webinar format to ensure the safety of all participants guests per continued Maine CDC recommendations.

At this time we have not yet made a decision on the October 10th event. We are closely monitoring and following the recommendations of the Maine CDC, Maine State Government, and University of Maine System.

Maine Law faculty and staff will provide many opportunities, both online and in person settings for interaction between students, as well as between students, faculty, and staff. Several events and gatherings will take place throughout the year to help maintain the close-knit community for which Maine Law is famous.

We will be scheduling regular Town Hall meetings for our students with Dean Leigh Saufley, faculty, and staff later in the summer.

Library

Students will have limited use of facilities including the Library within the Law Building, the Sullivan Gym, and dining services on the Portland campus. More details will be posted as we get closer to the fall semester.

Many of the Library’s services are available online to our students. This includes access to the Library Catalog, URSUS, and remote access to many online databases, including LexisNexis, Westlaw, BloombergLaw, and HeinOnline.  Links to these and other databases can be found in the Maine Law Quick Links section of the Law School Portal.

The best way to contact our reference staff is through email at lawref@maine.edu.  Any questions about circulation of materials or Interlibrary loan can be sent to lawill@maine.edu. Contact information for library staff and other library information can be found under the Library tab on the Law School portal. Although we are currently not lending physical materials, we are happy to send articles or other pdf documents to students via email upon request.  Please do not hesitate to contact us with your needs and we will do all we can to help you.

Career Services Office (CSO)

All of the normal career planning services (individual counseling appointments, review of application materials, etc.) will be offered through Zoom meetings, email, and telephone calls. CSO will host virtual employer information sessions, panel discussions, and networking meetings with employers and alumni. Through the use of virtual platforms, students will have enhanced opportunities to engage with Maine Law alumni in a wide range of practice areas and locations.

No. Fall 2020 OCI will be postponed to Spring 2021. Employers who normally interview 2L and 3L students on campus in the fall for summer and postgraduate positions will instead be interviewing in the spring. The exact schedule and whether the interviews can take place in person will be decided in the fall.

Incoming 1L students will meet CSO staff and learn about CSO services during Orientation. A series of information sessions and workshops will be held throughout the fall, either virtually or in small group meetings, where physical distancing is possible. Every 1L student will have an initial individual counseling appointment in the fall, either virtually or in person if physically distancing is possible. On campus interviews by employers for 1L summer positions will occur in Spring 2021.

Student Life and Wellness

All of the usual Student Services functions will be offered through Zoom, email, and phone. Student Services will continue to offer personal support, including for students facing medical health or other emergency situations. Student Services will host virtual events and substantive workshops throughout the fall semester.

Depending on the nature and place of the travel, students who travel outside of Maine during the semester may be asked to complete the recommended CDC quarantine guidelines or complete the semester online.

Incoming 1L students will meet the Student Services team during Orientation.  A series of drop-in sessions and workshops will be held throughout the fall via Zoom.  Every 1L student will have an individual or small group meeting with the Associate Dean for Student Services either virtually or in person if physical distancing allows.
The USM Health and Counseling Services will be open and treating students this fall. Services will be provided both in person and virtually. For more information access the USM website.

Risk and Personal Responsibility

The Law School consistently seeks to take steps to minimize the risk of COVID-19 infections (or any other spread of disease) in accordance with applicable law, regulation, and guidance provided by health authorities. These efforts may include policies and safeguards implemented by the Law School such as symptom checks, social distancing, use of facial coverings, and isolating and quarantining when required. Despite these efforts, the Law School cannot categorically guarantee that any person entering the Law School or other University of Maine System campuses or facilities will not contract COVID-19 or any other communicable disease and any such person must assess and accept the risks of illness or injury for themselves.