Student Program

Classroom Component

In the classroom component of the program, students learn about the role of inside counsel and substantive issues encountered in a corporate law department, including real estate, employment law, intellectual property, and securities law.  We will also discuss ethical responsibilities of in-house counsel and potential in-house career paths.  Some classes focus on practical skills, such as working with outside counsel, conflicts of interest, mechanics of a commercial lease, working with your internal “client”, contract drafting, and conducting internal investigations. In-house counsel guest lecturers will also visit in some classes.  

Classroom topics vary by semester; however, class sessions over the last three years have included:

  • The Corporate Law Department
  • Working with Outside Counsel
  • Contracts
  • Working with Your Internal "Clients"
  • Compliance
  • Intellectual Property
  • Corporate Governance
  • Commercial Lease Agreements
  • Internal Investigations
  • Employment Law


In the externship component, students apply what they learn in the corporate counsel class and other law school courses in a real-world setting.   The externship provides students with an unparalleled insight into what in-house attorneys actually do as well as the opportunity to view the practice of law from the client’s perspective.  In addition to performing legal tasks consistent with the learning objectives of the program, students learn through observational opportunities.  They shadow attorneys, watching how they conduct themselves in meetings, communicate with other attorneys, and advise their business colleagues. 
Externs are selected through a competitive application process and assigned to legal departments based on practice area and industry interests they identified when they applied.  They each work approximately 10 hours per week for a minimum of 120 hours. 
Students are not compensated for work done at their placements; they receive four hours academic credit for successfully completing the course and their externship placements.

Most corporate counsel handle a very wide variety of matters.  Similarly, the corporations participating in the Program operate across many different industries, including consumer packaged goods, health care, retail, transportation, and construction.   Accordingly, externs’ projects and experiences are just as broad and varied and encompass a wide-ranging assortment of legal and business issues.

We also visit with students periodically to help them reflect on what they are learning in the legal departments in which they are working.  And through the classroom component and required readings, we supplement what externs are learning first-hand at their placements.

Mary Kay

Fossil Halloween 2015
"My most valuable learning experience was what is often overlooked -- observation.  The Corporate Counsel Externship allowed me the unique opportunity to interact with experienced and talented attorneys and observe how they solved problems and interacted with their internal client.

After graduation, I plan to attend Fordham's LLM Program for Fashion Law and ultimately work in the area of fashion law."

J.C. Penney, Inc.
Aryele Maye