Western New England offers the opportunity to gain real-world experience from an externship in a wide variety of legal fields. The Externship Program provides learning opportunities for students placed with judges and lawyers who have agreed to provide a mentored learning environment away from the law school. All externs are supervised by a law faculty member.
An Externship Informational Session is held most semesters to provide interested students with information on placements options, the academic requirements, the application process, and the benefits of externships.
Types of Externship Placements
Students work in a nonprofit organization, governmental agency, or private sector law firm engaging in a variety of lawyering tasks under the supervision of an attorney. The emphasis of the placement is for students to acquire a range of lawyering skills with a particular focus on professionalism, ethics, and public interest lawyering.
Students may secure their own judicial, public interest, or private sector externship placement. However, students seeking approval to add a new externship site must obtain preliminary approval from the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs or the Associate Dean for Clinics prior to submitting formal site approval paperwork. Students seeking approval of a student secured externship must provide information that demonstrates a good reason why they cannot obtain a similar experience at one of the approved sites, including expanding geographic, practice, or substantive areas.
Sufficient lead time (a minimum of 2 weeks prior to the start of the semester) must be given to complete the approval process. The approval process will include a consultation with the proposed supervisor, an assessment of the substance of the proposed work, and a written agreement with the supervisor regarding the expectations and requirements for on-site supervision and mentoring.
Externships are Restricted Withdrawal courses. Externship employers rely on commitments made by students. Once a student affirmatively accepts an externship, the student is committed to participate in that externship. A student who withdraws from this externship course any time after 30 days prior to the start of the semester shall receive a “W” on their transcript.
- A student may not simultaneously enroll in more than one clinic, more than one externship, or a clinic and an externship.
- A student may receive credit for three externships for a maximum of nine credits during law school. Students must enroll in the externship seminar concurrently with their first externship placement. A student will receive one credit for the externship seminar.
- No professor will issue a grade unless all course requirements are met and the student completes an externship evaluation form.
- Students may not receive compensation, other than reimbursement of reasonable out-of-pocket expenses related to their fieldwork, while they are receiving law school credit.
Reimbursement is permitted for the following expenses:
- During all semesters: local transportation costs (e.g., parking, tolls); and
- During the summer only: the cost of transportation to and from the field placement if it is at a distance from Springfield (an “out of town” placement) and for housing and food costs only to the extent they are greater than what they would have been at the student’s home location.
- Externs cannot hold legal employment while participating in a judicial externship. An extern can hold a non-legal job, but cannot work for a law firm or do any paid or unpaid work that in any way involves the law.
- A student shall not apply for an externship if, as a result, the student is placed in a conflict of interest, even if the conflict is only apparent. Such a conflict of interest exists in the following situations:
in the same court system (e.g., work in a prosecutor’s office in Hartford and a Judicial
Externship in a Connecticut State Court).
2. Involvement in a case pending before a court and a Judicial Externship in that Court.
3. Such other simultaneous enrollments as the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs
may determine constitutes a conflict.
- Externs may not be supervised by a family member or a close friend. Students who wish to extern in an office where a family member or close friend works must obtain the permission of the Associate Dean of Clinics Lauren Carasik prior to applying for the externship.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is an externship and how does it differ from an internship?
An externship is a course in which a student works in a legal placement outside the law school for academic credit. An internship may be a paid or unpaid position with a legal employer in which there is no academic credit awarded to the student.
Why take an externship?
The law school recognizes its obligation to train graduates to be fully prepared to practice law. Externships provide an opportunity to develop lawyering skills through participation in activities such as: legal research and writing, client interviewing and counseling, factual investigation, development and implementation of case theory and strategy, negotiation, mediation, litigation skills and other forms of advocacy. Additionally, externships can be used to fulfill the 6 experiential learning credits required for graduation.
How do I know which externship placements are available?
Each semester a list of participating externship sites is placed on the clinical programs website and opportunities are posted on Symplicity. Additionally, an informational meeting is held to provide students with an overview of the externship program, a list of participating sites, and guidelines for the application and enrollment process.
How do I know what externship placements I should apply to?
Selecting an externship site is an important process. Sign up for an advising session with one of our clinical faculty. Please stop in at the Office of Clinical Programs and pick up our brochure titled Selecting and Interviewing for Externships. If you have questions about what externship placements would best fit your career and academic goals, please feel free to contact the Career Services Office, Dean Beth Cohen, Dean Lauren Carasik, or Clinic Programs Administrator Marie Fletcher. There are also placement surveys available on Symplicity that you can view to see how students have evaluated their placements.
When may a student take an externship?
A student must successfully complete 28 hours of law studies before enrollment in an externship.
How do I apply for an externship placement?
Students apply for externships through Symplicity, the Law School’s online recruitment system. Application materials are forwarded to Externship Site Supervisors after the application deadline date. In most cases externship sites will contact students they wish to interview directly. After reviewing application materials and holding interviews externship sites extend offers directly to students.
What should I do if I don't hear back from the placement to which I have applied?
Although we ask externship sites to make externship selections before students leave campus for vacation, some placements may not always be able to meet our deadlines due to pressing business or personnel changes. Please be patient, but let the Clinical Programs Administrator Marie Fletcher (email@example.com, 413-782-1469) know if you are still waiting to hear. We will be glad to follow up with offices to check on the status of your application.
What do I do after I receive an offer?
Upon acceptance of an offer of an externship, candidates should immediately withdraw from previously scheduled interviews with all other externship sites. Once you have accepted a placement offer you are obligated to honor that commitment. You may not rescind an acceptance in the absence of exceptional circumstances. Candidates should consider the acceptance of an offer a binding obligation. Students must also notify the Clinical Programs Administrator as soon as they have accepted a placement and indicate if they are taking the faculty supervised externship or the externship with concurrent seminar.
Can I do an externship with an organization that does not currently participate in the Externship Program?
Yes, students may secure their own judicial, public interest, or private sector externship placement with prior approval. Students must contact the Marie Fletcherr in the Clinical Programs Office and provide sufficient lead time (a minimum of 2 weeks prior to the start of the semester) to approve the site. The approval process will include a consultation with the proposed supervisor, an assessment of the substance of the proposed work, and a written agreement with the supervisor regarding the expectations and requirements for on-site supervision and mentoring.
What is the difference between the faculty supervised externship and the externship seminar?
Under both options, students are required to work 12 hours per week during the semester. The seminar option includes a seminar class and is required for your first externship placement. The faculty supervised option is for your second and third externships and includes regular meetings with your faculty advisor. Because students are awarded academic credit for their work, externships are intended to provide more than just a typical work experience. The ABA has promulgated standards applicable to externships. Standard 305 specifically requires that “A field placement program shall include: . . . (7) opportunities for student reflection on their field placement experience, through a seminar, regularly scheduled tutorials, or other means of guided reflection.” To satisfy that requirement, students taking the faculty supervised externship are required to meet with their faculty supervisor at least every other week, complete a Learning Agenda establishing externship goals, a conflicts form and a Memorandum of Understanding, and submit weekly journals and times sheets. Students taking the seminar option are awarded additional credit for their participation in a seminar designed to enrich the externship experience. The class is structured to provide an opportunity for students to reflect on their experiences especially in the areas of professionalism and ethics, practice lawyering skills, and gain additional insight and exposure to the broader legal system in their area of practice. Course requirements include individual meetings with the seminar professor, completing a conflicts form and learning agenda, submitting weekly journals and time sheets, posting comments to a forum in response to guest speakers and assigned readings, and submitting a research and writing assignment. The externship seminar is only offered during the fall and spring semesters.
How do I enroll for an Externship?
Notify Clinical Programs Administrator Marie Fletcher of your externship placement location and if you are enrolling in the Externship Seminar or a Faculty Supervised Externship. She will send you the appropriate enrollment form. If you are enrolling for a Faculty Supervised Externship, you must have the form signed by the faculty member that you have secured to supervise your externship. The completed form should be returned to the Registrar’s Office.
How do I find a faculty supervisor?
Any full-time faculty member may be a faculty supervisor for an externship placement. We recommend that you begin your search for a faculty supervisor as soon as you know you want to enroll for the Faculty Supervised Externship. Your faculty supervisor must sign the Faculty Supervised Enrollment Form before you can register for the externship.
We advise students to ask faculty members with whom they are most familiar, either from a class, activity or organization. Faculty supervisors do not have to have expertise in the area of law on which the externship focuses. However, some students may wish to ask faculty members who do specialize in the area of law that relates to the externship placement.
What is the faculty supervisor's role?
The faculty supervisor is responsible for creating a learning environment that ensures that each student meets the educational objectives of the externship while the student gains practical skills experience. The faculty supervisor meets bi-weekly with the student throughout the term of the externship, assists the student in establishing a learning agenda, and reviews and discusses with the student the weekly reflective journal that the student maintains throughout the semester.
What is the placement attorney supervisor's role?
The placement supervisor is responsible for introducing the extern to a range of lawyering skills and for fostering their development as reflective practitioners, with a particular focus on professionalism and ethics. The placement supervisor is responsible for incorporating the extern into the day-to-day operations of the field placement, offering opportunities to observe and participate in legal activities, and giving the extern guidance on work assignments, and constructive feedback throughout the course of the work experience. The placement supervisor is also responsible for signing a Memorandum of Understanding, and completing a mid-semester and final evaluation of the student’s work performance.
What reporting requirements are there during the externship?
Students must keep a weekly log of the dates and hours they have worked with a brief description of tasks being undertaken as well as a reflective journal. The first entry is due after your first week (complete or partial) of work and each week thereafter until the completion of your externship. The journal and time log should be recorded in one running document that will contain the cumulative record of your externship experience. The most recent journal and time entry should be at the beginning of the document so that by the end of the semester, you will have all your entries in one document, organized with the most recent entry at the beginning. This document should be uploaded weekly onto the designated TWEN site.
The purpose of the journal is not to recount the student’s projects or experiences at the field placement. Rather, the journal asks the student to reflect on what the student is learning in the placement – experiences with the law, lawyers, or legal institutions, and your own learning style, work habits and career aspirations.
Do students enjoy taking Externships?
Students consistently comment that their externship placement was the most valuable experience obtained in law school. The following are a few quotes from externs:
“You cannot learn from a textbook what the externship will teach you.”
“This was easily one of the most rewarding experiences that I had in law school, and I highly recommend it to anyone no matter what type of law they want to practice.”
“I can’t say enough about my externship. It was by far the best experience I had in law school.”
Is an externship a required course?
No, externships are elective and not required for graduation. However, they may be used to satisfy your experiential learning graduation requirement.
How are externships graded?
Externships are graded Pass/Fail.
We recommend that students applying for an externship attend an advising session to guide you through the process of determining what type of placement will help you achieve your career and academic goals. These are held during the externship application period.
Please add the course titled Clinic and Externship Advising Sessions on TWEN to sign up for an advising Session.
1. Students apply for externship placements during the application period each semester for a placement the following semester.
2. Students may apply to up to seven different externship sites per semester.
3. Application to extern positions is made through Symplicity, the Law School's online recruiting system.
4. If you have not already had Career Services review your resume, please email it to Laura Fisher or Sam Charron in Career Services before you apply to Externships.
Click here to learn more about selecting and interviewing for Externships.
Instructions for Symplicity:
- To access Symplicity, go to https://law-wnec-csm.symplicity.com/students.
- Enter the user name and password emailed to you by Career Services (if you do not have a password, please contact Marie Fletcher at firstname.lastname@example.org or 413-782-1469).
- From your Symplicity home page, click on the Jobs tab.
- Select Externships from the dropdown list. You will see the extern positions available.
- To view the job description for each externship site, click on the Job Title.
- To apply, upload required application documents under the Documents tab. Return to the job and click on Apply Button.
After you Apply/Interviews/Offer
Materials received by the deadline date will be sent to the externship sites. Some sites will make offers based on resumes and application materials alone, and others will want to interview students first. Phone calls from extern sites must be returned within 24 hours. Students must respond to an offer for an externship as soon as possible; if a student receives an offer for an externship, the student must either accept or decline the offer within 5 days.
Acceptance of an offer is a binding obligation and may not be rescinded. Upon acceptance of an offer of an externship, candidates should immediately withdraw from previously scheduled interviews with all externship sites. Do not apply to a site unless you are willing to accept an offer from that site.
YOU MUST CONTACT MARIE FLETCHER IN THE CLINIC OFFICE at email@example.com or at
(413) 782-1469 TO RECORD YOUR PLACEMENT AND SEND YOU THE CORRECT ENROLLMENT FORM.