Don't know where to get started? consider the following questions:
What kind of experience are you looking for?
Check out where our students have externed in the past.
What areas of substantive law do you want to explore?
Explore some of the practice areas in which you might be interested. The Externship Program has developed lists of externship field placements by practice area. They are available on the Externship Program's MyWCL page, by searching the Externship Database and they are available in hard copy outside Yuma 413.
Was there a course you took that you found particularly interesting?
If you do not have a particular substantive area in mind, consider courses that you found interesting and why they interested you. Would you consider exploring these areas of law through an externship?
What kind of experience or skills do you want to gain or improve?
Some externships will focus on legal research and writing skills, while others may focus more on interviewing clients and offering direct services. Think about the skills you want to gain or improve and the types of experiences you want to have, whether it is drafting policies or talking to clients, and try to focus your search on those aspects.
Keep in mind that your actual tasks and responsibilities are as important as the substantive area you are working in. For example, if you are interested in having client contact in the immigration law area, you will probably be disappointed in an externship at an immigration policy organization.
Where to look for a field placement
The Externship Database
The Externship Program Field Placement Database is a directory of employers that have hired WCL students for externships. There are well over 1000 organizations listed and it is searchable by practice area and keyword. Many employers do not contact the law school when they are hiring so searching only through CareerLink will sharply limit the number of employers to whom you might consider applying. Employers listed in the Externship Database include:
- Government agencies on the local, state, and federal levels
- Not-for-profit organizations (including public interest organizations, lobbying groups, trade associations)
- Courts and judicial institutions (including administrative tribunals; and local, state, and federal courts)
The annual Externship Fair is WCL-exclusive event hosting employers from over 150 organizations, who are seeking WCL students from internships and externships. This is an amazing opportunity created for all students to network, apply for internships and externships, informally interview with employers, and explore many organizations and practice areas in one place. Many of the organizations in attendance are represented by WCL alumni. All students should plan on attending regardless of your intention to find a Summer internship or externship.
The Externship Program also hosts several Mini Externship Fairs in the Fall exclusively for upper-level students (2Ls, 3Ls, 4Ls, and LLMs). Because of the more intimate setting, these Fairs provide upper-level students with an opportunity to sit down, have a conversation, and establish a personal connection with employers. The Mini Externship Fairs are generally broken down into Business, Finance, Tax, Health, Intellectual Property, and Communications and Media Law; Criminal Law: Prosecution & Defense; and Labor, Employment, Immigration, Family, Gender, and Education Law.
The Externship Fairs are a crucial component not only for finding an internship or externship, but also for developing your professional contacts and networking skills.
CareerLink and Posted Listings
The Office of Career and Professional Development lists available job opportunities. Sign up for notifications of new listings for specific types of legal positions. In addition, the Externship Office frequently posts announcements from employers currently seeking interns for field placement opportunities. Stay tuned for updates by following us on Facebook and Twitter and through MyWCL announcements.
Office of Career & Professional Development (OCPD)
WCL career counselors are available for students who want to consider how to most effectively take advantage of an externship to assist them in meeting their long-term career goals. Career counselors also provide the following services: reviewing resumes and cover letters; conducting mock interviews; and assisting in planning an effective job search.
- For more information about OCPD or to schedule an appointment with a career counselors, see the OCPD site.
Faculty Practice Groups
WCL Faculty have created eleven practice groups to provide students with more subject matter-specific and practice-specific career information and counseling. The practice groups are comprised of full-time faculty members, alumni, and adjunct professors specific to each field.
- For a full list of the faculty practice groups and their co-convenors, and to register for a Faculty Practice Group, click here.
Office of Public Interest (OPI)
The Office of Public Interest offers valuable resources for students who are seeking public interest opportunities, some of which can be turned into externships.
- Sign up to receive the OPI Informer: this is a weekly newsletter from OPI that includes information for students and alumni about public interest events, internship postings, pro bono opportunities, and more.
After reviewing the database listings, stop by the Externship Office in Yuma 413 to read through field placement evaluations written by WCL students, who have worked there in the past. These evaluations can be helpful in providing additional information about the field placements and supervisors.
Design Your Own Externship
Rather than selecting from externships used by the law school in the past, you may design your own field placement, if it fits our program criteria. You may use outside resources, other sources like CareerLink and USAJobs, organization listservs, and personal contacts to find a field placement. To find extensive information about government agencies and other legal organizations in Washington DC, use the "Leadership Directory" available through the Pence Law Library Resources A-Z. This provides voluminous information including contacts, email addresses, and phone numbers.
Networking is an important aspect of developing professional contacts and building relationships. It can help you obtain an externship that may turn into a job post-graduation. Ask others for help and help others. OCPD offers students many valuable resources on how to network, where to network, and with whom to network.
- Mentor Database: Over 500 WCL alumni have offered to provide career guidance to WCL students. The WCL Alumni Mentor Database enables students to contact WCL graduates for the purposes of networking, seeking general career advice, and informational interviews.