The Summer Public Defender Externship is an experiential-learning course in which law students earn academic credit while working in the offices of public defenders around Arkansas. Students work under the supervision of both a field supervisor at the externship site and a faculty supervisor who teaches and directs the course. Through this course, students receive in-depth exposure to the work of public defenders and prosecutors and the operation of the criminal-justice system. Examples of recent placements include externships with public defender offices in Benton County, Crawford County, Faulkner County, Hot Spring County, Pope County, Pulaski County, and Saline County.
This course is offered only during Bowen’s seven-week summer term. To complete the course, students must perform 126 hours of work at the externship site by the end of the term in which they are enrolled in the course, and they also must satisfactorily complete the requirements of an accompanying seminar class at the law school. Students receive three hours of graded academic course credit upon satisfactory completion of the course requirements. Enrollment in the course is limited, and students are selected for the course through an application process conducted by the professor who teaches the course.
To be eligible for the Summer Public Defender externship, students must have completed 30 credit hours by the start of the externship. Successful completion of Criminal Law is a prerequisite. Rule XV certification is not required for the course, although it can be helpful.