Approved by the Faculty of Wayne State University Law School, March 31, 2020.
Goals – In general
Externships help externs develop professional skills, values, and judgment, learn about professionalism, the practice of law, and the legal system, and become reflective practitioners with the capacity for self-directed professional growth.
Goals – Specific types of externships
- Corporate Counsel Externships: Corporate counsel externs learn about the roles, duties, and ethical responsibilities of in-house counsel and substantive issues encountered in an in-house legal department. Corporate counsel externs develop research, writing, and analysis skills, legal drafting skills, oral communication skills, law practice management skills, and the ability to learn from experience.
- Judicial Externships: Judicial externs learn about the roles and responsibilities of judges and judicial clerks, judicial decision-making, and effective advocacy. Judicial externs develop research, writing, and analysis skills, legal drafting skills, oral communication skills, law practice management skills, and the ability to learn from experience.
- Public Service Externships: Public service externs learn about the roles and responsibilities of public service attorneys and strategic and ethical issues in public interest and criminal justice law. Public service externs develop advocacy skills, legal drafting skills, law practice management skills, the ability to recognize and resolve strategic and ethical dilemmas, and the ability to learn from experience.
- Advanced Externship: Advanced externs continue expanding their skills and progress beyond the training they received in their first field placement. Advanced externs refocus their personal goals, engage regularly in more in-depth reflection on these new goals and learning experiences, and guide the externship experience to fulfill these new goals to ensure that knowledge and skills advance substantially.
Methods – In general
- Fieldwork: Externs work in legal settings that have been approved by the Law School and under the general direction and supervision of judges or attorneys. Placements must be approved by the faculty after recommendation by the director of externships ("the director"). Externs perform tasks similar to those performed by entry-level attorneys. Externs observe the day-to-day activities of legal professionals. Externs discuss and analyze their fieldwork observations and experiences with supervising judges or attorneys.
- Class meetings: Each type of externship has a two-credit companion colloquium that externs must take and successfully complete in the same semester as their fieldwork. Substantial class time will be devoted to professional skills instruction and to facilitated discussion and analysis of externs' fieldwork observations and experiences. There is no class component for the advanced externship. In lieu of a class component, advanced externs are required to meet with the director or other faculty supervisor a minimum of three times during the semester.
- Reflective journals: Each extern is required to maintain a journal that describes and analyzes his or her fieldwork observations and experiences. Externs are instructed not to discuss confidential information in their journals. Journals are not required in the advanced externship course. Advanced externs are required to draft reflective memos that analyze the fieldwork experience.
- Location: All field placements must be located within 180 miles driving distance of the Law School. If a field placement has multiple offices, the office where the extern will do most of his or her work must be within 180 miles driving distance of the Law School.
- Corporate Counsel Externships: Corporate counsel externs must work in the corporate counsel office of a non-profit or for-profit entity that the Faculty has approved to serve as a field placement. Field placements generally should employ at least three attorneys; if a field placement has multiple offices, at least one of those attorneys must be based in the office where the extern will do most of his or her work. Before recommending that a corporate counsel office be approved to serve as a field placement, the director will send the office's chief executive officer or managing attorney a copy of the externship standards as approved by the faculty and the externship field placement agreement. The director will follow up with a telephone call and a site visit to discuss the documents, answer any questions and obtain a signed agreement.
- Judicial Externships: Judicial externs may work in judicial chambers at any federal court, the Michigan Supreme Court, the Michigan Court of Appeals, or any Michigan Circuit Court. Before allowing an extern to begin in judicial chambers, the director of externships will provide a copy of the externship standards, as approved by the faculty and the externship field placement agreement to the judge. The director will obtain a signed field placement agreement from the judge. If the judge previously hosted an extern no new field placement agreement is required.
- Public Service Externships: Public interest externs must work for a public interest organization, government agency or public interest law firm that the faculty has approved to serve as a field placement. Field placements generally should employ at least three attorneys. If a field placement has multiple offices, at least one of those attorneys must be based in the office where the extern will do most of his or her work. Before recommending that a public interest organization, government agency or public interest law firm be approved to serve as a field placement, the director will send the entity's chief executive officer or managing attorney a statement of course goals, methods, and policies that includes the relevant portions of this document. The director will follow up with a telephone call or site visit to discuss that statement and answer questions. The director will obtain written confirmation that the entity agrees to abide by the policies discussed in the statement. In addition, the director will obtain input from an independent advisory committee.
- Approval: The director will recommend that the experiential education committee approve an office or entity to serve as a field placement only if the director determines that the office or entity is willing and able to provide a high-quality educational experience to externs and can meet the requirements provided herein. The experiential education committee will review the director's recommendation and notify the faculty if it recommends approval The committee's recommendation will be deemed approved without faculty action unless, within five business days, four faculty members entitled to vote request in writing that the matter be considered at a faculty meeting.
- Periodic review: The director will
- Number of externs: No more than four externs will be approved in a single semester to work in the same unit of a prosecutor or defender's office, a corporate counsel office, judicial chambers, or office of a public interest organization, government agency or public interest law firm.
Externs must work under the general direction and supervision of a judge or attorney who the director has approved to serve as a field supervisor.
- Corporate Counsel Externships: Field supervisors must be attorneys with three years of corporate counsel or in-house experience who are members in good standing of the State Bar of Michigan or admitted to the highest court of another state.
- Judicial Externships: Field supervisors must be judges or judicial clerks. Judges who serve as field supervisors must have one year of experience on the bench; judicial clerks must have one year of judicial clerkship experience, and be members in good standing of the State Bar of Michigan or the highest court of another state.
- Public Service Externships: For criminal defense or prosecutor's offices, field supervisors must be attorneys with three years of prosecutorial or criminal defense experience who are members in good standing of the State Bar of Michigan or admitted to the highest court of another state. For all other public service placements, field supervisors must be attorneys with three years of law practice experience – including one year of public interest practice experience – who are members in good standing of the State Bar of Michigan or admitted to the highest court of another state.
Field supervisors should regularly meet with externs and should assume overall responsibility for ensuring that externs are assigned tasks and provided opportunities, guidance, and feedback that will help them achieve program and course goals. While field supervisors may delegate responsibility for directing and supervising externs' work on individual projects, field supervisors should ensure that externs receive meaningful guidance and feedback regarding their work, and are engaged in substantial discussion and analysis of all significant events that they observe.
Externs generally should be assigned tasks similar to those performed by entry-level attorneys at their field placements. Clerical duties, such as photocopying, filing, or completing forms that do not require the exercise of professional judgment, should be only a small part of an extern's work. Passive observation likewise should be only a small part of the experience.
- Externs should receive guidance toward the practice of law in the best traditions of the profession.To this end, field supervisors and other attorneys supervising the extern's work should not merely request a work product, but should also provide an explanation of the legal issues, their context, the goals, ethical implications, and the means of addressing and resolving the issues.
- Substantial guidance of externs may be required, not only with regard to substantive law, but also with regard to research, writing, and other professional skills. Patience will be called for, and criticisms and suggestions for improvement will often be appropriate. As the skills of externs improve, their responsibilities should also be increased.
- Externs are expected to benefit from the examples set in the office with regard to matters that experienced lawyers take for granted, such as proper attire, decorum, civility, punctuality, timely performance of assigned tasks, attention to detail, ethical behavior, and the pursuit of excellence.
- Field supervisors should be responsible for no more externs than they can properly supervise, ordinarily no more than four, including those from other law schools.
- Field supervisors should view externs not as transient sources of free, albeit inexperienced, labor, but as fledgling lawyers who deserve the type of mentoring that is given in a permanent, full-time placement. This mentoring is an invaluable service to the externs, the Law School, and the profession. Externs should be aware of the effort and expertise being devoted to them and offer their best efforts in return.
- Field supervisors are encouraged to confer whenever necessary with the director of externship programs or course instructor about the extern's progress or the externship program.
Supervision guidelines – Specific types of externships
- Corporate Counsel Externships: Corporate counsel externs should be given substantial opportunities to develop research, writing, and analysis skills, legal drafting skills, oral communication skills, and law practice management skills.
- Judicial Externships: Judicial externs should be given substantial opportunities to develop research, writing, and analysis skills, legal drafting skills, oral communication skills, and law practice management skills.
- Public Service Externships: Public service externs should be given substantial opportunities to develop advocacy skills, oral communication skills, law practice management skills, and the ability to recognize and resolve strategic and ethical dilemmas.
Externs should not be assigned or allowed to work on fee-generating matters. Fee-generating matters are matters where clients or third parties other than the field placement itself pay or are expected to pay an hourly, flat, or contingent fee for services. They do not include fee-shifting matters where fees only may be obtained from the opposing party; however, field placements should not seek fees for externs' work in fee-shifting matters.
Political or judicial campaigns
Externs should not be assigned or allowed to work on political or judicial campaigns.
Evaluation of externs
Field supervisors are expected to evaluate externs at mid-semester and at the end of the semester, using evaluation forms provided by the Law School. Field supervisors should meet with externs to discuss these evaluations.
Before approving a judge or attorney to serve as a field supervisor, the director will provide a copy of the externship standards as approved by the faculty and the externship field placement agreement. The director will follow up with a telephone call or site visit to discuss those documents and answer questions. The director will approve a judge or attorney to serve as a field supervisor only if the director determines that he or she is willing and able to provide a high-quality educational experience to externs and the field supervisor signs the field placement agreement.
Training and monitoring
The director will make available reference and training materials for field supervisors and organize training sessions as needed or requested. The director will conduct site visits or speak with field supervisors by telephone or via email on a regular basis.
Evaluations and periodic review
Externs will evaluate field supervisors at the end of the semester using evaluation forms provided by the Law School. The director will review these evaluations shortly after receipt and review field supervisors near the end of their first year participating in the program and at least once every three years thereafter. The director may withdraw approval of a judge or attorney to serve as a field supervisor if the director determines that he or she has failed substantially to follow the requirements contained herein, or that he or she is unwilling or unable to provide a high-quality educational experience to externs.
- Time commitment: Externs are required to perform 150 hours of fieldwork. Field supervisors may limit externship offers to students who are willing to work more than 150 hours, but should not require or allow externs who are full-time students to work more than twenty hours per week in the fall or winter terms.
- Beginning and end date: In the fall and winter semesters, externs may begin their fieldwork no sooner than one week before the first day of the semester, and no later than two weeks after the first day of the semester. In the summer semester, externs may begin their fieldwork no sooner than one week before the first day of the semester, and no later than one week after the first day of the semester. Externs generally are expected to spread their fieldwork evenly over thirteen weeks in the fall and winter terms, over ten weeks in the summer term. However, with the consent of the director, externs may complete their fieldwork in fewer or more weeks.
- Location: To assure proper supervision, externs normally should perform their work at the office where the field supervisor is based, or other locations where attorneys are available to supervise their work. If a project requires an extern to spend extended time elsewhere, regular and frequent communication should take place between the extern and the person supervising his or her work on that project.
- Time Logs: All externs are required to document their fieldwork through detailed, contemporaneous time logs. Time logs should be reviewed and signed by the field supervisor, and submitted on a weekly basis as directed by the course instructor.
- Compensation: All externs may accept reimbursement for reasonable out-of-pocket expenses related to their fieldwork, such as parking at the field placement. Students enrolled in the externship practica may not receive compensation for their fieldwork.
Externs must have completed thirty law school credits, with passing grades in all first-year courses for which grades have been assigned, be in good academic standing, and have a cumulative grade point average of 2.0 or higher (2.33 for J.D. students who have not yet received thirty credits of grades, 3.0 for LL.M. students). Professional Responsibility and the Legal Profession (LEX 6800) is a pre- or co-requisite for all externships. Corporations (LEX 7156) is a recommended course for corporate counsel externships. Advanced Externship requires the extern to be in good academic standing and to have successfully completed a Corporate Counsel, Judicial or Public Service Externship Colloquia.
Applying for externships
- Corporate Counsel Externships: The Law School facilitates the application process for externs seeking corporate counsel placements. The director of externships will provide information each semester regarding the process.
- Judicial, Public Service and Advanced Externships: The Law School does not "place" externs with field placements or field supervisors. Students interested in externships should apply directly to field supervisors by sending a cover letter, resume and writing sample. A list of approved field placements and field supervisors is provided to students.
- Advanced Externship: A student who wishes to enroll in the Advanced Externship course should submit a written memo to the director of clinical education explaining: (1) what his/her learning objectives are, and how they differ from those for the first externship; and (2) why these learning objectives cannot be met by existing clinical or experiential learning course opportunities.
Enrollment in externship colloquia typically is limited to sixteen externs per section. Enrollment limits in the Advanced Externship will be set by the director of externships on a semester-by-semester basis. Registration requires prior approval from the director. Students enrolled in an externship colloquium or advanced externship may not take another externship course or a clinic in the same semester.
Each extern is required to complete a detailed self-evaluation, course evaluation, and evaluation of his or her field placement and field supervisor at the end of the semester, using forms provided by the Law School.
Credits and grading
All students must register for the appropriate two-credit externship colloquium, which is letter-graded. Students may also register for the corresponding externship practicum, a two-credit course graded on an Honors-Pass-Low Pass-No Credit basis. Students enrolled in the J.D. program may earn up to eight credits total through externship practica and externship colloquia, up to fourteen credits total through externship practica, externship colloquia, and clinics. Students enrolled in LL.M. programs may only earn four credits through externship practica and externship colloquia. Advanced Externship is a two-credit, letter-graded experience. It is open to both J.D. and L.L.M. students.
Field placements and field supervisors shall not discriminate in the selection, training, or treatment of externs on the basis of race, color, sex (including gender identity), national origin, religion, age, sexual orientation, familial status, marital status, height, weight, disability or veteran status.