Study Outside of the Classroom
The externship program allows students to earn academic credit for legal experience during the spring and summer semesters. Students enroll in a highly structured class that helps them develop their professional identities while immersed working at a legal externship. To earn four credits, students must complete 200 hours at the placement, and 400 hours to earn eight credits. The directors are Professor William L. Robinson and Professor Dena Bauman, who is also the Director for the Office of Career and Professional Development (OCPD).
For either option, students must have completed three semesters of law school and the externship cannot be taken simultaneously with a clinic. The externship program accepts visiting students from other law schools. Please contact the Office of Admission for information on how to become a visiting student.
The externship program provides opportunities for students to:
- Develop and improve their legal skills;
- Hone their problem-solving and professional management skills;
- Engage in critical reflection on the profession and their role as practitioners;
- Explore career areas of particular interest; and
- Develop a life-long model of professional development.
Eligible placements can be with members of the judiciary, governmental agencies, or non-profit legal organizations. Students may not receive credit for work with private law firms or for-profit groups, or for paid positions. Students may find their own site (subject to approval) or request placement assistance. Positions are posted in the OCPD electronic jobs database (access is restricted to current students and alumni). Recent placements include the District of Columbia Office of the Attorney General, the US House of Representatives, the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, members of the judiciary, the US Environmental Protection Agency, and the Maryland Office of the State Attorney. The directors work closely with field placement supervisors to ensure that students receive substantive experience, effective supervision, and appropriate evaluation. Field supervisors prepare extensive written mid-term and final evaluations of the student’s work.
Students must keep a weekly journal reflecting on issues and problems that arise during the placement, and share those reflections with the co-directors. The journal helps students develop a systematic way to reflect on and analyze their experience, enabling their growth as a professional.
The academic component is delivered through a weekly tutorial. During the tutorial, students examine the broader social, political, economic, and policy-related ramifications of their fieldwork as well as a variety of issues connected with the practice of law, including the role of lawyers in shaping public policy, the practice of public interest law, and the diversity of legal careers. Tutorials include reading assignments, and student and guest presentations.
For additional information, see Externship Program FAQs.
"Civil Rights in the 21st Century"
Students taking the externship class during the summer, particularly those working in the area of civil rights, may wish to add a two-credit class called "Civil Rights in the 21st Century." Wade Henderson, President of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and the Joseph L. Rauh, Jr. Professor of Public Interest Law at the School of Law, co-teaches the class with Professor John Brittain. The class, which can also be taken without enrolling in the externship class, offers students a distinctive opportunity for an in-depth review of a number of cutting edge civil rights issues including: discrimination in education, housing, employment and voting. Students also hear from and exchange views with guest lecturers on topics such as election protection and discrimination against Asian Americans. Students are required to write a paper on a current civil rights topic.