Lawyering in the Nation's Capital Externship

The externship program represents a partnership between the Law School's Experiential Learning program, Damon J. Keith Center for Civil Rights and Levin Center. The program will offer up to four students each winter semester the opportunity to work, under the supervision of a licensed attorney, in a variety of settings in Washington, D.C. depending on their area of interest. Students interested in the legislative process and congressional oversight may work on Capitol Hill in a House or Senate office. Students interested in civil rights and social justice may work with a nonprofit agency engaged in policy work.

Important information for students

Students who enroll in this Washington, D.C.-based externship are not eligible to enroll in a clinic for credit toward their J.D. If they enroll for the minimum amount of 12 credits in Washington D.C., they are eligible to take one 2-credit externship upon return to Detroit. If they enroll for 13 or 14 credits, they are ineligible to enroll in another externship experience for credit towards the J.D. Students can extern at their pre-approved placements for 32, 35, or 40 hours each week for 15 weeks. 

Students will also be required to take a concurrent colloquium course designed to explore the role of the Washington, D.C. lawyer. The course will familiarize students with the various entities, organizations, agencies, and individuals involved in making national public policy. Through a series of guest lectures and readings on the congressional process, advocacy, and agency rulemaking, the course will engage students in learning about the legislative process, the role of oversight and of interest groups, and the inter-relationship among the three branches of government. Part of the focus will be the role lawyers play in the development and oversight of federal law and policy.

The concurrent externship course meets one night each week for 2 hours for 15 weeks. Students are required to attend a twelve-hour orientation spread out over two days prior to leaving for Washington, D.C.

Application and eligibility

Students must apply to the program approximately one year prior to when they plan to enroll, typically during the winter semester. To be eligible for the program students must have successfully completed all first-year courses, taken Professional Responsibility prior to the semester in Washington D.C., and enroll in a subsequent fall or winter semester upon return from Washington D.C.

Timeline for the winter 2022 externship

  • Applications open Thursday, May 27, 2021
  • Virtual Information sessions on June 8 and June 17, 2021
  • Applications close July 5, 2021
  • Interviews held the week of July 22, 2021
  • Announcements of successful candidates in early August 2021


Assistant Professor Rebecca Robichaud
Director of Clinical Education
Director of Externships
(313) 577-9991