The Externship Program provides law students with the opportunity to gain valuable legal work experience while earning academic credit.
Completing an externship can:
Note: Most sites will allow you to volunteer more hours than what you earn credit for. But please be aware that working more hours than what the credits require does not mean you will automatically earn more credits. Be aware also that at some sites, particularly in summer, students are required to work full-time, regardless of the number of credits earned.
Beginning summer semester 2023, the Seattle University School of Law Externship Program will allow students who receive compensation to earn credit.
Thanks to our students, staff, deans, faculty, and site supervisors for the effort that went into creating this policy change!
Although the ABA lifted its ban on paid externships in 2016, most schools required that externships be unpaid until recently. SU students advocated for a change in the policy, but most sites could not pay, and faculty and supervisors had concerns about the impact of payment on externships’ academic goals. In 2020 the school’s renewed focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion led to a push for change by students, the Student Bar Association, and externship program faculty and staff.
In the summer of 2022, the United States District Court in Seattle and Tacoma created a paid externship pilot explicitly designed to increase diversity. SU and UW externship programs worked with the court to encourage measures to ensure inclusion, for example to avoid the use of transcripts during the application cycle since they do not accurately measure the abilities of students with fewer resources. The court also created additional programming to ensure that those selected, many of whom were first-generation students, would receive mentoring, opportunities for observation, and additional training. The pilot was successful and will be offered again this summer.
In November of 2022, the SU Externship program surveyed its sites again and found that most were now in favor of paid externships, although only a few can pay. The Program Director drafted a policy to allow paid externships at existing sites. The policy includes measures to ensure that observation, training, and feedback are preserved since research has found these opportunities decline slightly in paid positions. Faculty voted to approve the policy and it has now been modified to include PILF grantees who will now be able to earn externship credit while receiving a PILF grant. We will be sharing this policy change with our externship sites as well.
Please be sure you have filled out the Externship Application online so that you have a place in the corresponding seminar. Once you have been offered a position, please tell us your supervisor’s name and email address. For sites currently in our database that will pay, the following processes will apply:
Please remember that the site will need to be approved for you to earn credit!
Third-party grants, stipends, scholarships, and direct payments by the site are all allowed. This includes the Public Interest Law Foundation (PILF) grants or Judicial Intern Opportunity Program (JIOP) fellowships. Funds to help with travel or cover other incidental costs were already allowed under the previous policy and receiving such funds will not be considered as a paid externship.
In previous years, students have applied for sites early in the spring by filling out the externship application online. They applied to sites through the externship office and withdrew from the externship seminar if they were awarded a PILF grant. As some students relied on this policy and may not have applied for a PILF grant in the past, for this coming summer, priority will be given to those who are not earning externship credit. If you have questions about the PILF application process, deadlines, and likelihood of getting a grant, there will be information sessions held to address these questions. For any immediate questions or concerns please reach out to PILF President, Julia Doherty, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
It is best to apply for externships about 3 to 5 months before the start of the semester. Here are a few things to be aware of.