Externships

Program Objectives

The Externship offers students an opportunity to develop the skills necessary to bridge the gap between law school and law practice. Through the Externship, students prepare for "effective and responsible participation in the legal profession" (ABA Std. 301) by applying the core concepts learned in law school courses to the challenges presented in the actual, in-office practice of law.

The externship placement program allows a student to work under the supervision of a lawyer or judge in a public law office, government agency, or not for profit organization or for an attorney in private practice so long as the student is assisting only with pro bono work performed by that attorney, for such purposes as:

  1. Enhancing their legal research and writing skills
  2. Taking part in and observing law practice or judicial decision making
  3. Using concepts and skills learned in regular law school classes
  4. Appearing before courts and administrative agencies under Missouri Supreme Court Rule 13
  5. Understanding the requirements of compliance with the rules of professional responsibility
  6. Considering the difficult human and ethical problems that face modern lawyers

Students interested in the externship should talk to Professor Melody Daily (Spring Externship) (room 304) or Assistant Dean Lisa Key (Summer Externship) (room 103).

Program Structure

Pre-requisites

Only students who have completed their first year of law school and are in good academic standing can register for the Externship course.

Credits

  • Externship opportunities are available during fall semester, spring semester, and summer session.
  • Students are limited to a total of six hours of externship credit. Graded S/U.
  • For three credits, externs will work for a total of 150 hours at the placement sites of their choice where they will be supervised by attorneys and judges who have agreed to serve as mentors. For two credits, externs will work a total of 100 hours at their placement sites.
  • Students will be permitted to register for the Externship during two or three semesters or summer sessions.
  • Students can earn no more than three externship credits during any one semester or summer session.

Placement

To receive Externship credit, a student must arrange a placement with a public interest group, non-profit organization, prosecutor or defender office, federal or state agency, or court. The student must also identify a licensed attorney who works for the organization and who has agreed to be the student's supervisor. Information about placements can be found on Symplicity and through the Career Development Office.

Ordinarily students cannot receive externship credit for working at private law firms. However, a student can serve as an extern for an attorney in private practice so long as the student is assisting only with pro bono work performed by that attorney. Such placements must be approved in advance by the law school.

Students cannot receive compensation for their work as externs.

Classroom Component

The classroom component of the course is intended to help students focus on fundamental lawyering skills (as identified by the MacCrate Report and Carnegie Report), identify the skills they want to develop, and consider strategies for developing these skills during their Externship placement and later throughout their legal careers. The required text is Learning from Practice: A Professional Development Text for Legal Externs, by J.P. Ogilvy, Leah Wortham, Lisa Lerman, Alexis Anderson, and Margaret Martin Berry (Thomson West 2d ed. 2007). For the first Externship, the professor will base the student's evaluation on the student's satisfactory completion of all course requirements, on the student evaluation form completed by the field placement mentor, and on the professor's conference with the field placement mentor.

For the second Externship, the student will have to meet the same course requirements except that he or she will not be required to read the same materials again. Instead, the student will read professional literature in the relevant field of law. Both the field placement mentor and the course professor must approve the student's reading list. The professor will again base the student's evaluation on the student's satisfactory completion of all course requirements, on the student evaluation form completed by the field placement mentor, and on the professor's conference with the field placement mentor.

To receive credit for a second Externship, the student must establish goals and activities that are significantly more challenging than those selected for the first Externship. For example, a rising 2L who works with the Public Defender may meet the goal of "learning about trial work" by sitting in a courtroom and watching trials. As a 3L, that same student may be second-chairing or conducting a trial. Students can (with the professor's prior approval) demonstrate that they met their goals in a variety of ways, which might include writing a paper, creating a portfolio, or teaching a specific skill to the class.

In addition to working at the placement site, to receive credit for the Externship course a student must complete additional assignments, which may include all or some of the following:

  • Externs must attend two class meetings at the beginning of the course and five class meetings during or at the end of the course. During the fall and spring semesters those class meetings will appear on the class schedule. For summer sessions, two class meetings will be scheduled at the end of the spring semester and five class meetings will be scheduled during the summer.
  • Read the required assignments from Learning from Practice. [Required for Externship 1, but not Externship 2]
  • Complete a skills assessment.
  • Write a four- to five-page placement memo describing the purpose, organization, activities, and scope of authority or jurisdiction for his or her placement site.
  • Establish a list of goals and activities (including observations and readings) for the externship.
  • Maintain and turn in accurate time sheets.
  • Schedule a mid-term conference to discuss the placement with the professor.
  • Keep a journal of the student's reflections on his or her placement experiences (approximately two pages each week).
  • Write a summary memo that briefly outlines the work the student did at the placement site, describes the positive and negative aspects of the placement, and evaluates the student's success in achieving his or her goals.
  • Complete an Evaluation of Mentor form.
  • At the conclusion of the placement, conduct an exit interview with the placement site mentor to discuss the extent to which the student achieved his or her goals.
  • Make a presentation to the other externs about the field placement.

    *Before beginning the externship, any student who has not taken Professional Responsibility must complete a one-hour CALI lesson reviewing the Model Rules of Professional Responsibility.