What Are the Academic Goals of the Program?
Students learn about substantive issues in-house counsel face, including intellectual property, employment law, securities filings, commercial contracts and corporate governance.
They learn through classroom instruction, by working on real-world legal projects and by observing lawyers dealing with these legal issues in context. Students also have the opportunity to apply what they learn in classroom component or another law school class in a real-world setting.
Students develop their professional skills, including legal analysis and reasoning, contract drafting, problem solving, communication, teamwork, negotiation, and fact finding. Externs shadow attorneys, watching how they conduct themselves in meetings, communicate with outside counsel and opposing counsel, and interact with their internal "clients." Seasoned in-house practitioners also train students in the exercise of these skills, supervise their progress, and critique their development. By virtue of working in a corporate legal department, students will also develop more of an understanding of workplace issues such as time management, workplace culture, professionalism, and giving and receiving feedback.
Students gain an in-depth and holistic understanding of the client and its expectations. Externship placements will give students a unique opportunity to discuss client needs and expectations with in-house counsel as well as observe their interactions with business colleagues and outside counsel. A better understanding of client needs and expectations will make students more effective legal advisors, whether they practice in law firms or corporations.
Beyond the acadmic goals of the program, there are a number of side benefits. Externships provide students with additional experience to list on their resumes, which may help them become more attractive for prospective employers. Often, students are exposed to new areas of the law, career options, and industries they may not have considered. Many students report that as a result of their externships, their research, writing, and contract drafing skills improve and they gain confidence in their skill sets. Finally, externships allow students to meet practicing attorneys and build their networks.
How Are Students Evaluated?
The externship component of the program is graded on a pass/fail basis, and the class component is graded.
Students must pass both the externship and class components in order to receive any academic credit for the program.
Students submit written reports to the faculty supervisor and reflect on their experiences throughout the program through journaling prompts and in-class discussions. They are also required to complete two written evaluations of their placement, at mid-semester and at the conclusion of the externship, as well as a take-home final examination.