Learning from Practice - The Role of the Seminar in the Externship Program

 

The externship students field work experiences are enhanced by the close supervision they receive from faculty members, by participating in an externship seminar.Seminars give students an opportunity to reflect on their experience, hear from other students about other externship experience, build important legal skills.

Externship seminars provide students with an opportunity to engage in critical reflection about the legal profession, their own future legal careers, and their priorities and values as lawyers in conjunction with their field placement experiences. Extemship seminars are open to students in a wide variety of field placements and, rather than emphasizing a particular area of law, focus on the lawyering experience, the legal profession, and the workings of legal institutions.  Students have the opportunity to explore their own professional development through discussions of critique and self-evaluation, the transition from school to work, and career goals and career planning.

Each two credit seminar can have a different focus or format. Below, you can access course descriptions for each professor's course.

Seminars/Supervision Options

Most students who are externing for the first time enroll in the two-credit graded externship seminar, which meets every week.  Students who have completed an externship enroll in the one credit Advanced Supervision seminar.  During the summer semester, all students, including those who have not yet  externed, may enroll in a one credit pass/fail externship seminar. Note: All students participating in an externship must be enrolled in an externship seminar or supervised individually by faculty.

Although generally students may enroll in any externship seminar, some seminars may have a specific focus, such as criminal law, environmental law, or litigation. On the right, you can access the registrar's course schedule. Filter for "769" in the Course column to see all Externship Seminar offerings and click on the course for full descriptions for each professor's course.

Seminar Option Breakdown

The Two-Credit Externship Seminar is intended for first time externs. This seminar is 2 credits and graded A-F.

Requirements:

The requirements for each externship section may be different, and are listed in each professor's course syllabus. All seminars, however, will require the following:

  • Weekly Seminar Classes:

    • Spring/Fall: In the Fall and Spring semesters, the class meets 1 hour, 50 minutes per week for a 14-week semester.

    • Summer: In the Summer semester, the class meets 2 hours, 50 minutes per week for a 9-week semester.

  • Journals:

Students must submit journals reflecting on the externship experience. Students must follow their professor’s guidelines and requirements regarding format, length, and submission.

  • Reading Assignments:

Professors may assign students reading assignments pertaining to the content of the seminar class.

  • A Substantial Written Project:

This is generally one 10-15 page research or reflective paper, or a series of shorter papers assigned throughout the semester.

  • Log of Hours Worked:

Students must keep a contemporaneous log of hours worked. Your professor will require you to have your field supervisor confirm the hours worked either by email or by signing the hours log.

  • Other Assignments:

This may be a class presentation, a final paper, or a combination of assignments.

NOTE: Students can only receive credit for the Two-Credit Supervised Externship Seminar once. The only exception is for students who have completed a two-credit seminar and subsequently enroll in the long distance program.

The Advanced Supervision seminar is for students who have already participated in a two-credit externship seminar. This seminar is 1 credit and graded Pass/Fail.

Requirements:

Although the requirements for each particular seminar differ and are listed in the professor’s course syllabus, all advanced supervision seminar will require the following:

  • Seminar Classes

    • Fall & Spring: In the Fall and Spring semesters, the advanced seminar meets 8 times for 50 minutes over the course of the semester. The seminar typically meets for the first three weeks of the semester and then every other week for the rest of the semester.

    • Summer: In the Summer semester, the seminar will meet weekly.

  • Journals:

Students must submit journals reflecting on the externship experience. Students must follow their professor’s guidelines and requirements regarding format, length, and submission. The frequency of journal submissions will depend on whether the course is taken in the fall/spring semester or during the summer. 

  • Reading Assignments:

Professors may assign students reading assignments pertaining to the content of the seminar class.

  • A Substantial Written Project

Generally, the professor will assign an 8 to 10 research or reflective paper, or a series of shorter papers throughout the semester.

  • Log of Hours Worked:

Students must keep a contemporaneous log of hours worked. Your professor will require you to have your field supervisor confirm the hours worked either by email or by signing the hours log.

Small Group Supervision Seminar (Summer Only)

During the summer semester, the Externship Program offers first time externs a one-credit Small Group Supervision Seminar option as an alternative to the Two-Credit Supervised Externship Seminar. It allows for more flexible summer scheduling. This seminar is 1 credit and graded Pass/Fail.

Requirements:

  • Seminar Classes

This class meets once each week for 50 minutes.

  • Journals:

Students must submit weekly journals reflecting on their externship experience. Students must follow their professor’s guidelines and requirements regarding format, length, and submission.

  • Reading Assignments:

Professors may assign students reading assignments pertaining to the content of the seminar class.

  • A Substantial Written Project:

Generally, the professor will assign an 8 to 10 page research or reflective paper, or a series of shorter papers throughout the semester.

  • Log of Hours Worked:

Students must keep a contemporaneous log of hours worked. Your professor will require you to have your field supervisor confirm the hours worked either by email or by signing the hours log.

In the Summer, the Externship Program offers the following seminars in a remote classroom format. These seminars will take place in the format of a virtual classroom. Students will need to reserve 2 hours each week to attend this live online class in a quiet space where they can hear and speak with a headset. The time of the seminar will vary depending on the time zone in which a student is externing. The class may meet during the workday for some students and in the evening for others.

  • Long-Distance Externship Seminar (National and International Externships): This is a 2-credit seminar offered for first time externs interested in externing outside of the Washington D.C. metropolitan area. This seminar has the same general requirements as the Two-Credit Seminar listed above. More information about long distance national and international externships can be found here.
  • In-House Counsel Externship Seminar: This seminar is specifically for students externing in corporate in-house counsel offices both in and outside of the Washington D.C. area (the In-House Counsel Seminar is also offered in the Fall and Spring semesters on campus in regular classroom format). This seminar has the same general requirements as the Two-Credit Seminar listed above. More information about externing in a corporate in-house counsel office can be found here.

Individual Supervision by a Faculty member (Fall & Spring Only)

During the Fall and Spring semesters, students unable to attend any of the Externship Seminar offerings due to scheduling issues or other constraints may ask individual faculty members to provide supervision. The faculty member must be a full-time professor, or must have an office within the WCL law school building. Faculty members, who agree to individually supervise externship students, must sign the Individual Faculty Supervision Guidelines.

Requirements:

  • Faculty Advisor/Student Meetings

Students are required to meet with their professor between 5-7 hours per semester. Topics for meetings may include: the progress of the externship, problems, insights and strategies for getting the most out of the externship, and reflection on broader issues concerning the practice of law that relate to observations and experiences in the field.

  • Journals:

Students must submit biweekly journals reflecting on the externship experience. Students must follow their professor’s guidelines and requirements regarding format, length, and submission.

  • Reading Assignments:

Professors may assign students reading assignments pertaining to the content of the seminar class.

  • A Substantial Written Project:

Generally, the professor will assign an 8 to 10 page research or reflective paper, or a series of shorter papers throughout the semester.

  • Log of Hours Worked:

Students must keep a contemporaneous log of hours worked. Your professor will require you to have your field supervisor confirm the hours worked either by email or by signing the hours log.

  • Monthly Progress Report Due to the Director of the Externship Program:

All students participating in individually supervised externships are responsible for contacting the Director of the Externship Program on the last day of each month to report on the status of their supervision.   This includes the dates and times they met with their professors, the dates on which journals were submitted and the status of additional writing assignments.  Failure to report to the Director of the Externship Program each month could result in a denial of credit for both the supervision component and the field placement.

How do I select a seminar?

All of the externship seminars begin with the prefix LAW 769.  Most seminars are open to all students but some have a special focus.  Review the course description on the Registrar’s Course Page to see the seminar descriptions.

Are seminars graded?

The two credit externship seminar is graded A-F; the one credit seminar (offered only in summer) and the one credit Advanced Externship Seminar are pass-fail.

If I enroll in a second externship, do I  take a second 2-credit externship seminar?

No. A student can only receive credit for the graded two-credit LAW-769 course once. Students who enroll in a second externship must enroll in the one credit Advanced Supervision seminar.  The only exception is for students who subsequently enroll in the Long Distance seminar or the Corporate Counsel seminar.

Must I enroll in an externship seminar to earn field placement credit?

Yes.  Students receiving credit for a field placement must be supervised by faculty through the Externship Program/

Does the externship seminar meet WCL's experiential skills requirement?

The two credit externship seminar, the one credit seminar and the related field placement all meet the experiential skills requirements; Individual Supervision does not.

Can I take the seminar in one semester and complete the fieldwork hours in another semester?

No. In order to earn externship credit, the fieldwork hours need to be completed in the same semester as the externship seminar.