(Revised August 2022)
The faculty recognizes the value of externship placements as a means of achieving educational and professional objectives such as developing or enhancing professional skills and responsibility, improving legal research and writing skills, and acquiring knowledge of legal process and practice, as well as knowledge of specific substantive areas of the law and establishing professional relationships with practitioners in the legal community. The faculty, therefore, adopts the following policy governing externships.
An externship program may be approved by the dean or the dean's designate, without being presented to the Faculty for approval, if it meets the following criteria:
1. It is proposed or supported by a faculty member.
2. The student is placed with a public agency, not-for-profit organization, the legal department of a private entity, or a law firm (hereinafter referred to as the host organization).
3. The student will be supervised by one attorney at the host organization (hereinafter referred to as the supervising attorney), but may work also with other attorneys actively involved in the work of the host organization.
4. The student will meet with the sponsoring faculty member regularly during the semester. Judicial externs meet in class sessions with adjunct faculty members approximately every other week. Externs in non-judicial placements participate in four common classroom sessions and at least four meetings with their sponsoring faculty member during the semester. The meetings need not be individual, but may be meetings of multiple students advised by the same sponsoring faculty member. The meetings may take place electronically if the student is in an externship remote from the Law School.
5. The student will keep a journal or log of activities at the host organization. The faculty member will review and evaluate the log at least every other week.
6. The faculty member will discuss the planned experience for the semester with the supervising attorney before the externship commences and will discuss the progress of the externship with the supervising attorney periodically during the semester. The faculty member is required periodically to visit the host organization unless the externship bears less than six credits or if the host organization is remote from the Law School. If the host organization is remote from the Law School and the externship bears six or more credits, the faculty member must arrange to have a representative from a different law school visit the host organization as a proxy, unless the faculty member is able to visit in person.
7. The externship should expose the student to substantive aspects of legal practice in the host organization. The student's time should not be spent on clerical work except to the extent it is a normal incident of the law-related experience in the host organization. The externship experiences should normally include several of the following:
- Conducting legal research.
- Conducting factual investigation and research.
- Participating in preparation for a hearing, deposition, or similar proceeding.
- Participating in or attending a hearing, deposition, or similar proceeding.
- Preparing comments on proposed agency regulations or preparing testimony for an administrative agency hearing.
- Preparing comments on proposed agency regulations.
- Drafting legal documents, such as letters, pleadings, orders, and briefs.
- Participating in or attending sessions in which the lawyers counsel the client of the host organization.
- Participating in or attending negotiation sessions.
8. The faculty member will engage the student(s) in critical evaluation of the externship. The faculty member and student(s) will normally discuss the professional experience at the host agency, identify legal and ethical issues raised by the externship experience, and explore the issues of substantive law or procedure that relate to the student(s) experience while maintaining appropriate confidentiality.
9. Paid Externships
Each student is permitted to have one paid externship during law school as long as it occurs in the fall or spring semester. Paid externships are limited to three (3) or four (4) credits. Paid work positions are not eligible for credit-bearing externships during the summer. Paid positions include circumstances where the student is compensated directly by the host organization or funded by grants, stipends, or other sources outside the host organization.
10. Approved Credit Amounts
The number of credits earned by the student will be proportionate to the amount of time the student is required to spend on the work of the externship, not including time the student spends in classroom sessions, meeting with the sponsoring faculty member, or commuting. The time allocated to the externship should normally be spent at the host agency. However, during the Coronavirus epidemic, virtual or remote work time is permitted and virtual site visits by sponsoring faculty members are permitted. The work time requirement is forty-five hours per credit with the following approved credit allocations:
- 3 credits for 135 hours for a 13-week semester
- 4 credits for 180 hours for a 13-week semester
- 6 credits for 270 hours for a 13-week semester
- 6 credits over two semesters for 135 hours during each of the 13-week semesters
- 12 credits for 540 hours for a 13-week semester
- The associate dean for academic affairs can approve other credit allocations, between 3 and 12 credits, when they are convinced the circumstances warrant approval.
Summer externships are limited to three (3) credits. Judicial externships are ordinarily limited to three (3) credits; however, the academic dean can approve upto six (6) credits for a judicial externship during the fall or spring semester if the supervising judge expects an unusually large work commitment from the student.
11. Grading Scale
Externship credits will be awarded on a High Pass, Pass, Low Pass, or Fail basis. The student’s grade should be determined by the supervising attorney at the host organization in consultation with the faculty member.
12. Credit Restrictions:
Third year students will be given preference for enrollment in externships. No student will be permitted to earn more than 9 externship credits without the approval of the associate dean for academic affairs; these credits are counted toward the total of 27 non-instructional credits that a student is permitted to take without approval of the associate dean for academic affairs. The credits a student receives for participation in an externship program will be included when computing the student's total clinic and externship credits, which are subject to a cap of 17 credits.
13. Extended Externships:
Generally, students are limited to a single externship at a particular placement. In some circumstances, the academic dean may approve a second externship semester at the same placement upon showing that the experience in the second semester will involve significant additional development of the student's knowledge, experience, and skills beyond what the student achieved during the first semester.
A student participating in a judicial externship may receive credit for a second judicial externship if it will be served with a different court system (state rather than federal or vice versa) or at a different level (appellate rather than trial or vice versa). In some circumstances, the academic dean may approve a second externship semester in the same judicial chambers or court upon a showing that the experience in the second semester will involve significant additional development of the student's knowledge, experience, and skills beyond what the student achieved during the first semester.
14. Proposing a new externship program:
The student or faculty member who wishes to propose an externship placement has the burden to make the case and put together the necessary record. The program proposed must meet the standard requirements of other externships as outlined above. A faculty member must agree to serve as the faculty sponsor. If the externship is geographically removed from the greater Philadelphia area, the faculty sponsor may supervise the student through a combination of videoconferencing, phone conferencing, and written exchanges. The following criteria will be used to evaluate proposed new externships:
- Does this program enhance the range of alternatives open to students by offering a new range of experiences, exposure to an additional substantive area of practice, or the opportunity to pursue experiential learning in a new geographic area?
- Are the educational goals of the externship clearly defined and realistically attainable?
- How well does the program fit in the law school curriculum?
- Does the externship offer the opportunity to develop one or more core competencies?
- Is the work the extern will perform consistent with the activities listed above?
- Are there other educational experiences (such as seminars, tours, training programs) provided besides the regular legal training?
- Is there adequate host organization supervision? What are the qualifications of the supervising attorney?