Externship Program

The Externship Program immerses Willamette University College of Law students in the fast-paced work of the practicing lawyer.

Students are partnered with attorneys working in various legal settings in the wider community. They participate in legal work in many different contexts under the constraints of real-life practice. Attorneys who supervise students in the Externship Program receive training and mentoring from the externship director.

Externs have a wide range of opportunities from which to chose and can seek placements that fit their particular skills, background and career interests. Willamette students have enjoyed externships with local, national, and international hosts in a variety of legal settings, such as with in-house counsel of national and regional companies, state and federal representatives and senators, state and federal agencies, prosecutors' offices, public defenders' offices, nonprofit legal services, and private law firms. Students participate in transactional work, litigation, administrative advocacy and alternative dispute resolution as well as legislative drafting and advocacy.

When the Oregon Legislature convenes, many Willamette law students plunge into externship placements at the Capitol. Willamette students work with legislators, the governor’s office, the Judiciary Committee and the Oregon Law Commission on a variety of legislative and law improvement measures.

Participation in the Externship Program

The Externship Program provides an experiential learning environment that allows law students to develop their skills and values as novice lawyers. The program also seeks to strengthen the College of Law’s relationship with the bench, bar and community and to improve students’ prospects for obtaining satisfying, permanent employment after graduation. As such, the Externship Program allows students to “test the waters” in a specific area of legal practice. This program often is the capstone experience for students during their study at the College of Law.

Students participate in the Externship Program by enrolling in Externship (Law 478). This part-time (3 or 6 credit) or full time (9-10 in the summer; 13-15 in during the semester) course is graded on a pass/fail/honors basis. Students enrolled in the part-time Externship Program work either 8 or 20 hours per week in the field placement. Those in the full-time program work 40 hours per week. Participation in the program requires an academic component. Students attend class, produce on-line assignments, and produce a final written reflective paper. The externship course is open to second- and third-year students in good academic standing who have received a passing grade in LRW.

For more information on Externship (Law 478 & Law 480), please review this Externship Information Sheet. Students are free to create their own externships (with approval from the Externship Director). We do, however, have a list of pre-approved externships that you can browse.

If you have additional questions contact Terry Wright at (503) 375-5431 or by email. You may also contact Bev Ecklund at (503) 370-6057 or becklund@willamette.edu.