Externships Q & A


What is the difference between externships and clinics?

All clinics at Notre Dame Law School are taught entirely by full time faculty members at law offices owned by the law school. Full time faculty members both supervise students’ case work and teach an associated classroom component. Externships involve work in law offices outside of the law school. Externship students are typically supervised by attorneys who are not faculty members, but they typically take an associated classroom seminar taught by a faculty member.

Externships complement the Law School’s clinical offerings in several ways. Externships allow students an opportunity to explore practice areas not offered in the clinical program. They open up geographical areas beyond South Bend – most notably Chicago. And externships allow students to experience law practice under “real world” conditions and pressures – such as billing requirements – that may not be present in a clinic. Many externships allow students to engage in actual representation of clients pursuant to student practice rules.

How many credits can I earn through externships?

Hoynes Code section establishes a maximum of 10 hours of curricular academic credit for field work in externship courses. For purposes of this section, field work is distinguished from classroom work. The following are the number of fieldwork credits attributed to each externship course:

Course Field Work
Appalachia Externship 1 0 1
Asylum Externship 1 0 1
The Chicago Program 8 2 10
Intercollegiate Athletics Externship 1 1 2
Public Defender Externship 1 1 2
Advanced Criminal Justice Externship 3 1 4

Who is eligible to participate in externships?

Appalachia Externship All 2Ls and 3Ls
Asylum Externship All 2Ls and 3Ls
The Chicago Program Second Semester 2Ls and 3Ls (3L preference)
Intercollegiate Athletics Externship All 2Ls and 3Ls (3L preference)
Public Defender Externship Second Semester 2Ls and all 3Ls
Advanced Criminal Justice Externship Second Semester 2Ls and all 3Ls

How can I register for an externship?

Appalachia Externship DART
Asylum Externship Apply to NIJC in fall
The Chicago Program Application
Intercollegiate Athletics Externship Application
Public Defender Externship DART
Advanced Criminal Justice Externship Application

Do Externship Courses meet the Law School’s Skills Requirement?

Only the Advanced Criminal Justice Externship meets the requirement in Section 4.3.2 of the Hoynes Code that all students must complete an “upper level skills course.” Other externships do not. Under American Bar Association accreditation standards for law schools, a course qualifies as a skills course only if students are engaged in “skills performances that are assessed by the instructor.” Because most externships involve skills performances that are supervised and assessed by a field supervisor rather than the faculty instructor, they do not meet the requirements of the ABA standards. Thus, although students certainly learn skills during externships, most students must take another upper level skills course to satisfy ABA and Hoynes code requirements.

Other questions?

Please contact the Associate Dean of Experiential Programs, Robert Jones.