Guidelines for Student Professional Development Fund
Cultivating relationships with lawyers during law school is one of the most powerful and important ways that you can build your career prospects. Many entry-level jobs are secured through personal endorsements and connections that law students acquire through work, co-op, bar association participation, Inns of Court, and pro bono experiences. At this law school, we want to invest in you as you build your network. To that end, the dean has set aside a pool of funds that law students may access in order to develop relationships and take ownership of their job search process. These funds are subject to certain parameters designed to focus on building professional connections. A student may use up to $250 during the course of law school subject to the guidelines outlined below.
To qualify for access to funds, first-year students must:
- Attend the required 1L programs offered by the Career Strategies Office; and
- Meet with a career counselor to review one’s resume and discuss one’s career path.
Second- and third-year students can access the SPDF after having met a single requirement: one meeting with a CSO career counselor lasting approximately 20 minutes. The purpose of the meeting is for the student to check in, discuss his or her job search strategy, and discuss how to spend funds appropriately in order to secure meaningful employment.
When a student has completed all of the requirements, the CSO will notify the Office of Finance and Budget (OFB) that the student is eligible to access the SPDF. The OFB is located on the 4th floor in the Administrative office.
Approved Expenses –
In the spirit of fostering relationships and creating connections in the legal community, approved for reimbursement include:
- Travel expenses and fees to attend professional conferences, bar association events, CLE programs: Example #1: If you have an interest in health care law, then it may be worthwhile to attend the American Health Lawyers Association Fraud and Compliance Forum or the organization’s annual meeting. Example #2: For students with a strong interest in public interest law, attendance at the Equal Justice Works conference and job fair in Washington, D.C. would qualify for reimbursement since it goes directly to relationship-building opportunities.
- Membership in bar associations (specialty, affinity bar associations) as well as sections of bar associations where free membership is already gifted. Note: All the Kline School of Law students receive free membership in the Pennsylvania Bar Association, Philadelphia Bar, and the American Bar Association Law Student Division: Example #1: If you have an interest in becoming a trial lawyer, then consider joining the Philadelphia Trial Lawyers Association. Example #2: If you are considering opportunities in New Jersey, join the Camden County Bar Association as a student member.
- Inns of Court membership fees: Example #1: Students seeking to gain a foothold in IP law ought to join the Benjamin Franklin Inns of Court and become an active participant.
- Books, newspapers, and periodicals directly related to professional development and networking (not textbooks): For example, books about networking skills, business etiquette, leadership, or job search strategies are subject to reimbursement. If you are seeking work in another city and it would be helpful to access the city’s newspaper, consider a subscription with the understanding that the law library may already have access to this information as part of the library’s extensive subscription services.
- Purchasing a professional photograph for use on LinkedIn and in professional announcements: For example, the cost to download a graduation photo for use on social media and professional announcements is acceptable for reimbursement
Not approved for reimbursement:
- Rental cars
- Interview attire; salon or barber visits
- Food and alcohol
- Bar review courses or study materials
- Foreign language instruction
Deadline to Spend Funds – A student has three years and five months in which to spend his or her SPDF. Expenses must be incurred on or before October 31 following one’s graduation from Drexel University Thomas R. Kline School of Law (i.e., up to five months following graduation). All reimbursement requests must be submitted before December 31 of your graduating year. This means that a graduate of the Class of 2016 has until October 31, 2016 to spend his or her SPDF funds and that a request for reimbursement must be filed no later than December 31, 2016.
Reimbursement Procedures – Submit your requests by presenting your receipts to Zhiying Feng, Finance Director, on the 4th Floor in the OFB. You may apply to the fund for multiple events/activities, but each reimbursement request must be a minimum of $50 or greater. Please save your receipts until you reach this minimum threshold before submitting your reimbursement request. Your request will be processed within ten (10) business days and a check will be mailed to your school address.
Receipt Instructions – Original itemized receipts, documenting items purchased and proof of payment are required. For example, the receipts need to indicate the amount paid with zero balance and the last 4-digits of your credit card. If one of these elements is missing, please provide your credit card transaction/statement as an additional support document. The original hotel folio showing payment is required for reimbursement. For payment made by a personal check, a copy of the front and back of the processed check is required.
Travel Policy – It is expected that such expenses should be reasonable and moderate as the University is a non-profit educational institution, or 501(c)(3) organization as defined by the IRS. Students seeking reimbursement for travel expenses are expected to book the lowest logical coach class for air/rail ticket. The University will reimburse a single room rate at no more than the mid-range rate for hotels. For complete travel policies, please visit http://www.drexel.edu/depts/compt/ap/index.html.
Car Rentals – Students are not permitted to drive a rented vehicle for University-paid travel.
Personal Automobiles – Tolls, parking and mileage (between the University address and the travel destination) can be reimbursed. You can click here for the current mileage reimbursement rates. Personal automobile insurance used for business travel must be at least $100,000/$300,000 for liability coverage. The University will not reimburse individuals for the cost of such insurance or for the cost of other expenses including but not limited to driving or parking violations, fines, gasoline, automobile repairs, vehicle damage or insurance deductibles as a result of an accident, break down, tow or resultant meals and lodging.
Questions? – For questions or checking on reimbursement status, please contact:
Bernadette A. McCloskey, (215) 571-4717
Zhiying Feng, (215) 571-4816
or email firstname.lastname@example.org