Externship Overview

The Public Service Externship consists of a field placement with a government agency, a non-profit legal services organization, or a member of the judiciary under the supervision of the Externship Director and a field placement supervisor. Students who have completed at least 30 academic law school credit hours are eligible to participate.

Goals of the program

The educational goals of the Public Service Externship Program are:

  • To expose students to a wide range of public service practice settings.
  • To expose students to the state and federal legislative process.
  • To encourage students to consider a career in a public service setting.
  • To encourage students to run for political office.
  • To allow students to reflect on how their classroom learning applies to a variety of practice settings.

Course requirements

Service Hours: Each student participating in a first externship must serve 100 hours at his or her placement during the academic term that the student is registered for the externship and attend a pre-semester training session and a weekly seminar class. Students participating in a second externship must complete 115 hours of work and do not attend the weekly seminar classes or the pre-semester training session. Students are expected to spend a minimum of ten weeks working at their externship placements.

Writing Sample: Each student shall submit to the Externship Director a sample of the written work that he or she produced during the externship. This paper will not satisfy the upper level writing requirement. All writing samples must adhere to the confidentiality requirements of the office in which the student is working.

Weekly Journal Assignments: Each student shall complete one informal “journal writing” assignment per week. The journal entry shall be two pages (discussing the type of work the student is doing, reflections about the student’s work, issues the student is facing, etc.) for each week of the externship. All journal entries must adhere to the confidentiality requirements of the office in which the student is working. All journal entries must be submitted weekly to the Externship Director.

Timesheets: Students must deliver or e-mail timesheets (on the approved Student Timesheet form) for each work week. The timesheet should include a written description of the specific tasks performed, the nature and extent of the contact with the field supervisor, and the time spent. It must not, however, provide any identifying information about the client or cases, confidential information, or information that might violate the attorney-client privilege.

Program Evaluation by the Student: Within two calendar days after the last day of the placement, each student must complete and deliver the student’s evaluation of the externship and the field supervisor (on the approved Student Evaluation Form) to the Externship Director.

Final Essay: Each student must complete and submit to the Externship Director a final essay of five to seven pages discussing his or her reflections on the overall externship experience.

Field supervisor evaluation

The field supervisor will evaluate the student extern at the conclusion of the externship based on the supervisor’s evaluation of the student’s:

  • research ability
  • legal analytical skills
  • intellectual capacity and creativity
  • writing skills
  • oral expression
  • common sense, judgment, and ability to set priorities
  • initiative and responsibility
  • ability to relate well and effectively with clients and co-workers
  • enthusiasm, temperament, office demeanor, and behavior

Available credit

Academic Credit: Students who satisfactorily complete the Public Service Externship shall receive three academic credits on a graded basis.

Maximum Credit Limit: A student may not receive more than two externship placements for a total of six externship credits. The externships must be two different types of placements and in two different semesters.

Miscellaneous rules applicable to all externships

Externships with Family Members Prohibited: To ensure the educational integrity of the externship course, a student may not participate in an externship where a family member will supervise the student at any time.

Non-Payment Rule: All externships are non-paying, meaning students cannot receive payment in return for their work.

Division of Work Prohibited: Students cannot divide their time between externship work and paid work by, for example, working mornings without pay for externship credit and afternoons for pay. However, after a student has finished all externship requirements, the student may continue to work for the field supervisor for pay if the student receives an offer to do so.