Seattle University School of Law recognizes that experiential learning is an important component of a law student’s legal training. Experiential learning at the law school takes two primary forms: either the traditional clinic or the externship program, which places students with judges or practitioners.
A traditional clinic can offer a student the opportunity to represent a client in a live case, and a well-supervised externship program can help a student learn to manage a heavier case-load or to complete a variety of attorney work products in judicial chambers or practice settings. The externship experience helps the student move from law school to practice more easily. Both the faculty supervisor and the site supervisor guide the extern in reflecting on experiences in practice. This reflection enhances the practice experience by providing context for an extern’s reactions to situations and observations.
The externship program’s goal is to provide externs with a rewarding, well-supervised experience in judicial chambers or a practice setting that will ease their transition into practicing law, will instill professionalism, and will increase awareness of social justice concepts.
The externship program operates within the Law School’s mission, which focuses on social justice, especially access to justice, concepts.
What are the program’s objectives?
- to select sites in courts, government agencies, and non-governmental legal organizations that will provide excellent experiential learning experiences for the externs and will promote social justice concepts;
- to select supervisors at those sites who have a passion for their work, have a desire to mentor students, have the ability to teach students, and have at least three years of practice experience;
- to work with the site supervisors to ensure structured work assignments for the students at sites, good supervision on a regular basis, an adequate place for the students to work, and a generally positive working environment that fosters professionalism;
- to increase the externs’ ability to take control of their own learning by assessing their skills in a range of areas, by targeting certain skills for improvement, and by working with both the site supervisor and faculty supervisor to enhance learning and to measure progress;
- to provide additional experiences, away from an extern’s individual site, that will ease the transition to practice and foster professionalism;
- to provide structured opportunities for the externs to reflect on their experiences;
- and to increase the externs’ competence and confidence in their ability to practice law.
How does the program achieve the goals and objectives?
- Placement at Externship Sites: Students apply to approved externship sites that are found in the Externship Sponsors Database.
- Seminars: Students, whether enrolled in full-time or part-time externships, must take a concurrent seminar. The seminar courses include additional practical experiences such as presentations by court officials followed by tours of court facilities; presentations by faculty and site supervisors on various practice-related topics; and multimedia presentations by students. Students are usually assigned short readings appropriate for the sessions. Students will assess their skills in a number of areas and then measure their progress in improving their abilities throughout the semester.
- Journaling: Students must submit a journal entry once every two weeks. Topics are required or suggested each week, but students may always write about topics that interest them. The journaling requirement is a means of fostering reflection.