Field placements and field placement supervisors are, of course, the linchpin of the Externship Program. Externships afford our students a tremendous opportunity to develop their legal skills, receive invaluable mentoring, consider a wide variety of career opportunities, and work on issues that are important to them personally and professionally. Our field placement supervisors receive high quality unpaid legal assistance from enthusiastic students who are eager to take on challenging work assignments.
How is an externship different from an internship?
The term “externship” is used to describe an academic program through which students earn credit for unpaid legal work outside of the law school. An “internship” might include any type of work experience while an externship must meet requirements set by the ABA and the law school. Externs must participate in related seminars and/or close faculty supervision. Students must commit to working between 10 and 20 hours per week during the Fall and Spring semesters and may work full time during the Summer semester.
What qualifies as an Externship field placement?
Students may extern with:
- Not-for-profit organization;
- Federal, state, or local government agencies;
- Federal, state, or administrative courts/tribunals; or
- In-House Corporate Counsel, if the student is enrolled in the In House Counsel Seminar
- Students may not extern with law firm unless they are assigned exclusively to pro bono projects.
What are the requirements for an extern?
- Externs must be engaged in substantive legal work
- Externs must be supervised by a licensed attorney
- Externs must be unpaid
Can students work remotely?
We have found that students have a much more robust experience when they are on-site and are provided with opportunities for interaction and first-hand observation. Nevertheless, we are permitting remote placements in certain limited situations.
- Pre-selected federal government agencies in the DMV that have not yet returned to working on-site.
- Select organizations in practice areas for which remote work has become standard practice and onsite opportunities are not available (international, tech, engineering, etc.)
- Evening Program Placements (see policy here)
Attorney supervisors must agree to integrate remote students into the work of the office on a regular basis and must meet with remote students at least once per week via video conference. It is not sufficient for students to extern remotely simply because the field placement is outside of the metropolitan DC area.
See our policies and requirements here.
When can law firms qualify as field placements?
For-profit law firms will be approved for field placement only if the student is assigned exclusively to pro bono matters or CJA matters. Firms may not charge for students’ time.
What are my responsibilities as an Attorney Supervisor?
To ensure that the students’ educational goals are being achieved in the field placement, the field placement supervisor must assign substantive legal matters, must provide regular supervision and feedback on assignments, and must meet with the student periodically throughout the semester to discuss such matters as the student's goals and self-assessment. For a full list of the supervisor's responsibilities, click HERE.
How many credits do students receive for their fieldwork?
The number of credits students receive for their fieldwork depends on the total number of hours the students work at the field placement throughout the semester. The student's hours and schedule are determined by mutual agreement of the student and the field placement. During the fall and spring semesters, students generally take at least three other courses in addition to the field placement. For specific credit information, click HERE.
How can I host externs at my organization?
Our Externship Opportunities Database is available to all students seeking externship opportunities. Students view the database to locate jobs that suit their interest and specialty areas, and will then contact you for general questions, application information, and to arrange an interview. You may view your listing at any time. If you do not know the password, please email our office at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will send it to you.
What if my organization is new to the Externship Program and does not have an existing listing in the Externship Database?
If you are new to the Externship Program, and are interested in participating, please create a profile for your organization in our on-line database. It is imperative that your organization is correctly listed in our database to ensure that students have the opportunity to apply for externship positions.
How do I advertise to students that my organization is hosting externs?
We welcome notification of new or existing positions with your organization at any time of the year. To ensure your organization secures externship applications from Washington College of Law students on a regular basis, we offer the following suggestions:
- List your organization in the Externship Database
- Email the Externship Program at email@example.com to publicize opportunities with your organization
- For Spring semester externs, contact our office in mid-October and we will announce that the position is available.
- For Fall & Summer semester externs, contact our office in mid- March. Check in with us again in early August. We will publicize the position each time.
- Ask your current extern(s) to recommend your placement(s) to friends.
- Attend our annual Externship Fair or our Specialty Mini Externship Fairs.
- Periodically check your listing in the Externship Database, in order to ensure that our information is current (in particular, check your contact information – email addresses and telephone numbers). If you do not have the password, please contact our office at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What do I do if I have concerns regarding an extern's performance?
Students participating in externships are closely supervised by faculty. If the matter cannot be resolved between you and the student, the faculty supervisor is available at any time to discuss any questions or concerns you may have. You should report significant issues regarding the extern’s performance to the faculty supervisor and/or the Externship Program Director.
Policy on Discrimination & Sexual Harassment
The American University Washington College of Law requires that organizations who wish to participate in the Externship Program not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, age, sex, marital status, sexual orientation, or disability. We also require that field placements maintain a policy against sexual harassment. By participating in the Externship Program, field placements are deemed to agree with this policy. By participating in the Externship Program, field placements are deemed to agree with this policy.