Corporate In-House Counsel Externship Program
American University Washington College of Law, through the Externship Program, is excited to launch a new In-House Counsel Externship Program. This expansion of the law school’s successful Externship Program allows students to earn academic credit for their unpaid legal work in corporate settings.
This Program allows students to earn academic credit for unpaid legal work in private companies. Students may assist attorneys in such legal matters as regulatory compliance, legal risk management, intellectual property, employment law, securities filings, and commercial and government contracts. Students will gain invaluable lawyering experience as they gain first-hand knowledge working in the private sector.
During the fall and spring semesters students will extern 10-20 hours per week with companies located in the Washington DC area. During the summer semester (June and July) students will extern both locally and in offices across the United States and may work full-time.
We already have a number of large companies on board, and we hope to provide students with an array of choices that will allow them to get experience that aligns with their academic and career goals. Employers currently participating in our Program include Rosetta Stone, Chef’s Warehouse, Veriske 3E, CBS, Quest, Glatfelter Paper, IAP Worldwide, Aspect, and Quest.
Field Placement Requirements for WCL in House Counsel Externship Program.
To participate in this program, students must obtain a placement that complies with the following Externship Program requirements:
- Placement must be in the in-house legal department or other legal office of a private company (not in law firms).
- Externs must be engaged in substantive legal work. Administrative tasks and non-legal work may not be assigned unless it is work a practicing attorney would be expected to do.
- Students must be supervised by a licensed attorney. The attorney supervisor must meet with the extern regularly, provide feedback on assignments, develop a goals plan with the extern, and evaluate their performance. The attorney supervisor must be directly employed by the field placement, not by a third party such as outside counsel.
- The position must be unpaid, although students may receive stipends for out of pocket expenses.
- The extern and the supervising attorney must work on-site, in the same location. Students may not work remotely.
To find available corporate counsel externships:
- Corporate Counsel Placements are posted on Career Link- https://law-american-csm.symplicity.com/students/
- To receive updates and alerts on outreach efforts, join our listserv by e-mailing The Externship Program at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Students may find their own externships as long as meet Externship Program requirements.
To request field placement approval, go to https://www.wcl.american.edu/externship/registration/
Information about the Seminar:
To expand student opportunities outside the Washington, DC metro area, the law school offers a remote seminar for students’ externing in corporate placements during the summer semester.
Students will enroll in the In-House Counsel Externship Seminar concurrently with their externships. The seminar provides students with faculty supervision to supplement their field supervision. The seminar will allow students to reflect on their experiences and their development in their field placement, learn concepts integral to corporate in-house counsel practice, discuss unique ethical concerns including issues of confidentiality, and develop professionalism skills. Faculty will be responsible for any grading associated with the program.
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 will meet at 6 pm EST. Enrollment and Attendance is MANDATORY for all students earning credit for corporate field placements.
Portions of the class will be asynchronous (not taking place during class time), including take home assignments in which students will draft documents and engage in negotiations.
As of January 5th, the Department of Labor now allows unpaid internships with for-profit employers as long as the student is the “primary beneficiary.” Much of the test focuses on the extent to which the student is participating in an educational program, such as an Externship Program. See: DOL FLSA Fact Sheet #71.
Student Externship Hours: Externship Field Placement Employers (“Employers”) may set minimum hours requirements. During the fall and spring semesters, externs will be available to work in the Washington DC area between 10 and 20 hours per week. During the summer semester, externs may work full-time, in the DC area, nation-wide or overseas.
WCL Academic Calendar: Externships correspond to the WCL Academic Calendar. The fall semester begins at the end of August; the spring semester begins the second week of January. Our summer semester runs nine weeks – basically June and July. Some students being working the end of May through the first week of August.
Documentation: Employers are required to complete certain documents to help us ensure that externs are engaged in a substantive educational experience, and that the supervising attorney is providing regular feedback and supervision. These include the Externship Agreement, which lays out our school’s requirements and includes the extern’s anticipated responsibilities, and the Goals Form, a review of the extern’s mid-semester self-assessment, and a final evaluation.
Hiring Process: Although most employers prefer selecting their own externs, employers can let us know if they would like our involvement in the process. All postings will be advertised through the Externship Office and the Office of Career and Professional Development.
Pre-requisites: It is up to the employer to decide what pre-requisites are needed. Examples of specific course work could include Business Associations, Employment Law, Intellectual Property, etc. Specific course requirements may limit the number of applicants, as students who have only completed their first year of law school will be unlikely to have taken these courses and may not be eligible to apply.
Employer Registration Form: Employers who are interested in receiving applications from students should begin by filling out an Externship Registration/Approval Form. The Externship Office will review the Form, follow up with any questions or comments, and will post it on the Career Link page. The form is available at: https://www.wcl.american.edu/externship/externshipapp/employers/