Notre Dame Law School Launches Corporate Counsel Externship

Author: Lauren Love

Notre Dame Law School continues to expand opportunities for students to garner hands-on learning experience with the creation of a new corporate counsel externship program.

“Practical experience outside of the classroom is critical,” said James “Jay” Lewis, partner at Tuesley Hall Konopa, LLP and the adjunct professor who will lead the course. “The experience not only makes students ready to practice when they graduate but it also makes them more valuable to potential employers.”

The goals of the program are to give participants the ability to explore the day-to-day realities of working in the legal department of a corporation and to recognize the distinctions between acting as corporate counsel and practicing at a firm, Lewis said. Students will work in the field during the spring semester.

“In part students will have to think like a lawyer and in part think like a business person,” Lewis said. “You have to be able to understand that businesses are going to take risks—that’s what businesses do, but it’s about giving advice in the context of that business and how you can help guide the business to minimize risk but still move the company forward.”

In addition to the 8-12 hours the students will spend working at their respective placements, a supplemental classroom colloquium will support their experiences. Once a week, students will gather as a group for lectures, discussions or demonstrations that focus on analyzing and reflecting on their fieldwork.

Robert Jones, associate dean for experiential programs at NDLS, said the program may include corporate counsel placements with private companies, nonprofits, and certain governmental entities. This spring, students will be working at Bradley Company, First Source Bank, Lake City Bank, NIBCO, Notre Dame General Counsel and Rieth-Riley Construction.

Notre Dame offers a wide variety of externship opportunities, including: Notre Dame Law in Chicago and Washington, D.C., the Public Defender Externship, the National Immigrant Justice Center Externship, the Lawyering Practice Externship, the Intercollegiate Athletics Externship, the Seventh Circuit Practice Externship, the Appalachia Externship and Summer Externship.