Field Placement Requirements

Requirements for field placements include the following:

  1. The field placement must be a not-for-profit organization, government agency, or court. Students may work in for-profit law firms only if they are assigned exclusively to pro bono matters.
  2. The extern must be engaged in substantive law-related work
  3. The extern must be supervised by a licensed attorney (though day-to-day assignments may be handled by others)
  4. The externship must be unpaid. According to ABA Standards, externs may receive no monetary compensation for their work. They may not receive stipends except to cover limited, out-of-pocket expenses.
  5. The extern must work on site in the same location as the supervising attorney. Students may not work remotely.


During their study at WCL, students can earn a maximum of six credits for field placements and six credits for seminar/supervision. Students must enroll in at least one seminar credit AND one field credit every time they extern.

Supervising Attorney Requirements:

All field placement supervisors must sign an externship field placement contract that describes the responsibilities of the organization and supervising attorney.

Approval of Field Placement:

All field placements must be approved by the Externship Program Office. Simply because a field placement is listed in the Externship Database does not mean that it is automatically approved. ALL students externing with a for-profit law firm must speak to a member of the Externship Program staff prior to obtaining approval.

Limited Exception - For Profit Firms:

As a general rule, students may not earn academic credit (externship credit) for legal internships at for-profit firms.  Students may earn credit only for internships with not-for-profit firms, courts and government agencies. There is an exception to this rule when students are working exclusively on pro bono matters.

We define pro bono matters as those for which the client is not paying attorney’s fees up front (except limited payment for costs). This includes matters for which the firm does not anticipate receiving any fees whatsoever for their services (such as political asylum cases); but also includes:

  • matters for the client is paying no fees up front but for which fees may be available at the conclusion of the litigation under fee-shifting statutes  and the retainer agreement (includes most civil rights cases); and
  • matters for which the client is paying no fees but for which the attorney is paid a minimal amount by a government agency such as court-appointed criminal cases, or IDEA cases.

It does not include contingency fee cases that do not fall under fee-shifting statutes such as personal injury cases.

Please note the following Externship Program policies regarding pro bono work:

  • Law firms may not charge clients for the externs’ time.
  • Law firms may not petition the court for fees for the externs’ time.
  • Firms may include the time the attorneys spent supervising externs. 
  • Students may be asked to keep track of their time.
  • Firms may list the amount of time spent by the externs in the fee petitions as long as it is disclosed to the court that the externs are not paid and that no fees are sought. 

All students earning academic credit must be enrolled in an academic seminar in which the externship is the “text” of the class and student engage in reflection on legal practice, professional identity, specific skills, professionalism, etc.

All field placements must sign a field placement contract in which they agree to provide an orientation, supervision, feedback and mentoring to the student.