Following are answers to some frequently asked questions about the School of Law's Externship course.
Q. May I extern for a private law firm or private business?
A. No, even if the assignments are for pro bono cases. Qualifying sites are limited to non-profit public interest organizations, government and the judiciary. Students must be performing legal work under supervision of an attorney. Nor may students receive academic credit for paid externships.
Q. I plan to return to New York after I graduate. May I earn credit for a placement in New York?
A. No, we limit placements to metropolitan DC so that students are able to attend the weekly evening tutorial and so that Professors Robinson and Bauman can make visits to the placement during the semester. However, students have externed in the Baltimore area and in Virginia. Consult with either director if you have questions about a potential placement.
Q. Do I find my own placement or will I be placed?
A. Students often find their own placements through the OCPD electronic jobs database, through previous externships (including Community Service) and other sources. We encourage students who are interested in the class to meet with Professor Robinson or Professor Bauman to plan ahead as early as possible. Whether you find your own placement or are placed at a site, you will still need to go through the organization’s application process.
If a student is unable to locate a qualifying placement on her/his own, Professors Robinson and Bauman will place the student. Therefore, planning ahead will give you the benefit of more choices.
Q. When may I take the class?
A. The externship class is offered in the spring and summer semesters only. Students must have completed at least three semesters of law school before taking the class and the class may NOT be taken concurrently with a law school clinic. See the UDC-DCSL Student Handbook, Volume I, Section 3.5.2. Therefore, virtually all students take the class either in the summer after their second year or in the spring semester of their third year.
Q. May I take the externship class more than once?
A. No (see above citation).
Q. Should I take the externship class in the summer or spring?
A. That depends on a number of factors. Students who want to extern full-time, and earn eight credits for their work, can do so in the summer. Some students are not sure of their longer-term career goals, and choose to spend the summer in the externship class to help sharpen their goals and to plan for their last year in school. Other students want to use the spring semester as a "launching pad” for a post-graduate position and find that the spring semester is a better time to take the class.
One note: For students who want a judicial clerkship after graduation, it is advisable to take the externship class in the summer before their third year. Most judges will make decisions about judicial clerkships in the fall or early winter, and students who have spent the summer working for that judge will be in a stronger position to apply for the clerkship than students who wait until the spring semester.