Have you ever wondered how a judge decides cases? Each year, Villanova Law judicial externs gain a behind-the-scenes look at the judicial process where their classroom cases become real-life. A judicial externship is an insider’s view of a judge’s work process, deliberations, and ultimately, decision on cases that go on to shape the US justice system.

Judicial externs earn course credit and acquire valuable insight through semester-long practice experiences in the chambers of federal and state judges in eastern Pennsylvania, Delaware and New Jersey. Interested students are matched with participating judges, gaining invaluable skills in case and statutory analysis, legal research and writing, as well as procedural rules and substantive law principles.

As a judicial extern, your work closely mirrors the work given to a judge’s regular law clerk, and usually is a progression of challenging, varied, and increasingly complex legal projects. You will be assigned a faculty adviser who will conduct an orientation at the beginning of the semester.

You will also participate in a classroom component with other Villanova judicial externs. Your practice experience will be supported by classroom sessions introducing you to judicial writing, ethics, and other court-related topics. The classsoom meetings also provide a place where students can discuss the judicial process and receive guidance on professional, ethical or other issues that may arise.

Jennifer Harchut '21

“After the terrific experience I had during my summer externship with a federal judge in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of PA, I knew I wanted to be a judicial clerk after graduation. With that in mind, I reached out to upper-level students who had secured clerkships, the Office of Career Strategy and Advancement, and the Judge for whom I externed, as well as his clerks, and asked all of them for advice. The Judge invited me to his chambers to discuss how to best position myself to obtain a clerkship and, a few days after we met, he offered me a clerkship for him after I graduate. "

–Jennifer Harchut '21

Matthew McGovern
Director of Experiential Learning



externships with local, state and federal judges in the 2020–21 academic year