Corporate Counsel Externship Program

The Corporate Counsel Externship Program is an innovative academic program that integrates a corporate counsel class with externships in corporate legal departments in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.  

SMU Dedman Law is on the cutting edge when it comes to educating law students about the in-house practice of law. Our innovative Corporate Counsel Externship Program provides our students with a comprehensive, practical foundation of corporate law and practice and serves as a capstone learning experience.  The program demonstrates SMU Dedman Law’s ongoing efforts to strengthen its already rich business law curriculum with hands-on learning experiences for our students.

This fall, ninety third-year students are externing at these great DFW companies where they are applying their legal coursework in an in-house corporate context, while taking a contemporaneous corporate counsel course. 

In the weekly course, Corporate Counsel, students learn about substantive areas encountered in an in-house legal department, ethical responsibilities of in-house counsel, as well as professional skills, such as working with outside counsel, working with internal “clients”, contract drafting, and conducting internal investigations. In-house counsel guest lecture in some of the classes, adding yet another opportunity for students to learn from, and interface with, corporate counsel.

Each student is assigned to an externship in a different corporate legal department based on his or her practice area or industry interests.  Externships are intended to supply a frame of reference for students' studies at SMU Dedman Law, including what they learn in the classroom component of the program, and to allow them to apply legal concepts in a real-world setting.   Externships also provide students with a unique insight into what in-house attorneys actually do as well as the opportunity to view the practice of law from the client’s perspective.  Finally, placements include opportunities for performance, feedback, and self-evaluation to assist students in making progress toward the specified learning goals.  Students who successfully complete the class and externship components receive four hours of academic credit.

Marc Steinberg, the Rupert and Lillian Radford Professor of Law, serves as the Director of the program. Stephen Yeager, Assistant Dean for Student Affairs and a former general counsel, is the Faculty Supervisor, overseeing the externs' work and serving as the liaison with corporate legal departments.  

Camille Eslick
Real Page, Inc.
"The Corporate Counsel Externship Program used the classroom and externship components to teach me what the life of a corporate lawyer can be like and how corporate legal departments operate.  One without the other could teach valuable information, but together they transform the experience from isolated into comprehensive.

Attorneys I worked with took time out of their days to sit down with me and discuss the projects, background and even how the projects correspond to my individual interests.  As a result, I learned how particular legal issues relating to litigation, contracts, or internal operations arise; how to address them; and best practices to resolve them."

If your company is interested in hosting an extern through the program in Fall 2019, please contact Steve Yeager, Faculty Supervisor, at SYEAGER@SMU.EDU or (214) 768-4178.