- At what types of organizations outside of the law school may a student work for academic credit?
- How is an externship different from a part-time law clerk job?
- What does the law school require of an organization hosting an extern?
- How should an organization advertise for applications from student externs?
- At what point in law school is a law student eligible to do an externship for credit?
- Does the law school assign students to placements, or do students find their own placements?
- Where can I get more information?
Q: At what types of organizations outside of the law school may a student work for academic credit?
A: A student may get credit for work at a government agency, judicial chambers, non-profit organization, congressional office, law firm, corporate general counsel's office, trade association, or any other organization in the DC metropolitan area that does legal or law-related work. The organization must commit to support the student's and the university’s educational goals and to comply with a few law school requirements.
Q: How is an externship different from a part-time law clerk job?
A: The primary purpose of an externship is to provide educational opportunities for the student extern. While an extern will do much work that is useful to the organization, the work is structured to maximize the learning opportunities for the student. This differs from a paid law clerk position, where the primary purpose is for the student to perform tasks needed by the employer.
Q: What does the law school require of an organization hosting an extern?
A: We try to keep the red tape to a minimum, but there are a few essentials: Every placement should recognize that an extern is working without pay for academic credit and should try to structure the experience to maximize learning opportunities for the student. Every extern must be assigned an attorney, or in some exceptional circumstances another professional person, to be the primary supervisor and mentor. Even if a student will work with several lawyers, one must be designated as a supervisor for the student and as a point of contact with the law school. The supervisor should meet with the extern at least once a week to answer questions, review progress on assignments, etc. An extern must be provided with a desk and an appropriate work space. Student externs should not be asked to do administrative work, except for administrative tasks normally performed by other professionals in the organization. At the middle and the end of the semester, the supervisor must complete a brief form provided by the Office of Experiential Learning, describing the work that the student has done and evaluating the student's performance. Site supervisors must respect that student externs have numerous obligations outside of their externships and should not ask them to spend more time on work for the placement than the students need to obtain credit, unless the placement made clear at the outset that a larger number of hours per week was required by the placement than by the law school. Students follow the academic calendar for holidays and breaks. Students and site supervisors are encouraged to discuss the student's schedule for the semester before the externship begins. Law firms that host externs working for credit may not bill out the student’s time to clients. Placement organizations may not pay students for work done for academic credit, except that they may cover the cost of local transportation.
Q: How should an organization advertise for applications from student externs?
A: Prospective placement supervisors can seek CUA Law students as externs by posting a position on Simplicity at https://law-cua-csm.symplicity.com/. You may also send an email to email@example.com. The best times to advertise for law student externs are October or November (for the spring term) and February or March (for the summer and fall terms).
Q: At what point in law school is a law student eligible to do an externship for credit?
A: Once a student has completed her first year of law school (either full-time or part-time), she is eligible to take an externship for credit. Externship classes are offered in the fall, spring and summer. The National Association for Law Placement prohibits employers from offering summer positions to first year students before December 1 of a student’s first semester of law school. Employers may talk with first year students before that date, but should wait to formally interview and make offers to the first year students until December 1st.
Q: Does the law school assign students to placements, or do students find their own placements?
A: Students are responsible for identifying placement options, making applications and for making a selection from organizations that have given them a formal offer for a position.
Q: Where can I get more information?