Externship Program

An Externship is an opportunity for students to earn academic credit by working, without pay, under the supervision and guidance of a practicing attorney or judge. The program allows you to be exposed to different areas of practice or the courts, learn an area of substantive law, develop practical lawyering skills, and build a direct understanding of lawyers’ roles and their professional responsibility.

Course Description, Externship Types, Eligibility and Deadlines

The Externship Program is divided into two components: field work and a reflective component that consists partly of class attendance (attendance is mandatory) and partly of completion on-line assignments through TWEN. Students are required to attend the classroom sessions (or, if not in the area, attend via appropriate technology), complete the reading and the on-line assignments, submit weekly time sheets, submit work product produced at the externship (in compliance with attorney-client privilege obligations), and produce a final, reflective paper.

Externship Types and How to Find an Externship: Externships are available for judicial, government, non-profits, and corporate (in-house) placements. Private law firm placements are allowed under certain circumstances. The Externship Program maintains a database of Externship placement hosts to date which can be a starting place when searching for placement options. You can find this database on the school website. Students may also develop their own externship placements with the approval of the Director of the Externship Program, Professor Terry Wright. If your potential host organization/firm has not participated in the WUCL program before and would like more information, ask Professor Terry Wright or Bev Ecklund to send an informational letter to your potential host supervisor.

Location of Externship: Worldwide. Out-of-state or country students are required to attend the live class by way of appropriate technology.

Semesters: Fall, Spring or Summer

Eligibility for Full-time Externship:

1. Completion of the equivalent of 3 full-time semesters of legal study.

2. Successful completion of Legal Research and Writing.

3. Students must demonstrate through their application and their results in prior coursework an ability to complete the externship successfully without interfering with progress toward graduation and preparation for the bar exam. Students must be in good academic standing, and have a better than a 2.70 GPA to participate in the full-time externship. Additional GPA requirements or specific course pre-requisites may be required by host organizations.

4. Students generally should not apply without previously discussing and identifying, with the assistance of the Externship Professor, likely extern host organizations. Approval of applications is not guaranteed, but left to the discretion of the Externship Professor, in cooperation with the host organization.

5. OJIN criminal background check.

6. Secure an externship 30 days before the start of the first class.

7. Note: You must be enrolled in the Externship Seminar during the semester in which you are completing your externship hours. In other words, a student cannot enroll for a spring externship and complete the extern hours over the summer or in the fall.

8. Previous Part-time Externships: Students who have previously had an externship are eligible for the full-time externship program, subject to the graded credit requirement for graduation, see the Student Handbook, Section III(6)(a). However, the externship should be at a different host organization.

Application Deadline:

Deadlines vary by host organization. Some out-of-state or country applications are due as far as 6 to 9 months before the relevant semester. Applications should be reviewed by the Placement Office before submission to the potential host organization.

Credit, Grading and Course Components

School Year: 13 credit hours, Summer: 9 credit hours (additional 1-2 credits for school year and additional 1 credit for summer available, see below)

Grading: Honors, Credit or No Credit.

Course components:

1. Field work - School year: 40 hours per week for 15 ½ weeks. Summer: 40 hours per week for 10 ½ weeks.

2. Attend Class as outlined in the syllabus, class attendance is required (those not in the area will attend these classes via appropriate technology).

3. Required TWEN assignments, which includes readings and reflective assignments;

4. Final 10-page reflective paper;

5. Weekly time keeping;

6. Submit work-product materials at the end of the semester (30 pages for summer; 40 pages for school year)

Because some externships, such as judicial clerkships, may not allow you to use your work product because of confidentiality issues, letters from judges attesting to the quality and amount of work you completed during your externship are acceptable for the course work product requirement;

7. Arrange site meetings as required with your assigned Externship Site Visitor and your Externship Attorney Supervisor (either in person or over the telephone, depending on location).

Spring or Fall Semester Option – an additional 1-2 graded credits for a policy or legal paper of 20 or 40 pages arising out of the externship. You must find a professor in the subject area who will agree to supervision of your writing of the paper.

Summer Semester Option – an additional 1 graded credit is available for a 20 page policy or legal paper arising out of the externship. You must find a professor in the subject area who will agree to supervision of your writing of the paper.

Process for Enrolling in the Course, Waitlist, and Confirmation Letters

1. Review externship options which are listed in the database on the school website, or find your own externship; consider the requirements and location.

2. Application Materials: Application materials typically consist of resume, cover letter, and writing sample (5 to 7 pages). Additional materials may be required by the extern host organization. Please have the Placement Office review your application materials before sending.

3. Apply for and secure a placement.

4. Enroll in the Law 480-01 course through the normal registration process. If taking the additional graded paper option, students must also enroll in Law 480-02 at the time of registration.

5. After course enrollment, students are placed on a wait list until they have 1) secured an externship and 2) passed an OJIN check (Oregon criminal background check); and supervisor has passed a bar check.

6. Students need to contact Bev Ecklund, as soon as they are accepted by a host organization. Bev will send the host supervisor and the student a confirmation letter which explains the program expectations and includes the Supervisor-Extern Agreement that must be signed by the Supervisor and Student, and the Field Activities List that is reviewed with the host supervisor at the beginning of the externship.

7. Note for Non-local Externships: Before leaving campus, out-of-state or country students need to coordinate with WITS to ensure that the technology requirements are met in order to attend class remotely.

Additional Information

Can I Get Paid For My Externship Hours?

No. Under accreditation standard 306 of the American Bar Association, externs must not receive any compensation. Compensation includes not only wages, but also any stipend, scholarship or award proffered to the Extern for tuition, travel, living expense, or any other purpose. This policy does not preclude normal financial aid, or scholarship. Many of our host organizations invite our students to continue to work for them in paid positions after their externship hours are fulfilled, and you are free to do that so long as there is a clear distinction between your paid and unpaid work. To be clear: no hour for which you are paid can be counted towards academic credit; and you cannot be paid simultaneously for additional work.

Can I Convert My Paid Job Into An Unpaid Externship or Take the Same Externship Twice?

No. The purpose of the Externship program is to allow students to "try out" different types of practice areas or to be exposed to new areas of law while gaining practical experience. If you are already working in a position, you are already gaining practical experience. Caveats: If you feel that you will be able to gain additional experiences in your position as an extern that are not available to you as a paid law clerk or you will be working for a different supervisor, in a different department or at a higher level of responsibility in the second externship with the same host organization, please consult with the Externship Professor.

Can I Fulfill My Professional Skills Writing Requirement With An Externship?

Yes. You can fulfill your Professional Skills Writing Requirement (also known as the second year writing requirement) through the Externship Program. It requires approximately 40 pages of original work product created during your extern placement (or 30 pages for summer semester). The pages can include a variety of work types. For example, acceptable work may include motions, research, and client letters. Unacceptable work product includes work that is more than 10% not your own or only requires you to fill in blank forms, such as DUII expungements.

Some externships, such as judicial clerkships, may not allow you to use your work product because of confidentiality issues. Letters from Judges attesting to the quality and amount of work you completed during your externship are acceptable to fulfill the course work product requirements only, but not the Professional Skills Writing Requirement. If you want to use the externship for your writing requirement, you must have an externship that allows you to use your work product.

Can I Get An Externship Out-Of-State Or Overseas?

Yes, as long as you are being supervised by a licensed attorney in that jurisdiction who has no history of professional misconduct, and that person has been approved by the Externship Professor. However, the law school is not obligated to approve every externship opportunity proposed, regardless of location. The ABA requires at least one site visit (in person or remotely) even for externships out-of-state and country. Please note: even if you are out-of-state or country, you are required to attend class.

May I work remotely?

No, you must do your externship work at the site of the host organization. They must have a dedicated site, such as a desk and computer, for you to do your work.

Extern Supervisors Must be Attorneys in Good Standing

Students must be supervised at the host organization by an attorney in good standing with a state bar (or equivalent) and with no disciplinary record. Both the extern and the attorney supervisor will be required to sign an agreement regarding the minimum standards expected of each party.

Externship Program Staff & Professors:

Terry Wright, Externship Professor, tlwright@willamette.edu

Bev Ecklund, Placement Office Coordinator, becklund@willamette.edu

Required Externship Information