THE FEDERAL JUDICIAL EXTERNSHIP COURSE IS AN ACADEMIC PROGRAM THAT COMBINES AN 8 WEEK JUDICIAL WRITING CLASS WITH HANDS-ON FIELDWORK IN THE CHAMBERS OF A FEDERAL CIRCUIT, DISTRICT, MAGISTRATE OR BANKRUPTCY JUDGE, WORKING DIRECTLY WITH THE JUDGE AND JUDICIAL LAW CLERKS.
Over the course of the semester, students work in their placement a minimum of 120 hours (for two credits) and concurrently participate in an 8-week seminar for one additional credit. The course is offered every fall and spring semester. A mandatory information session describing the course and the application and selection process is held each October and March for the upcoming semester.
The Federal Judicial Externship Course allows students to work in chambers of a federal judge for a semester for academic credit. Along with an 8 -week companion course seminar (75 minute classes), the externships deliver invaluable learning experiences for students, providing a window into the federal judicial process, from the judicial perspective, as well as focused real-world experience in honing legal research, analysis and writing skills. The seminar course is “front-loaded,” to teach externs the types of motions, briefing and orders they will encounter in chambers, and includes academic inquiry through readings and journal writing. Externs work under close supervision and receive regular feedback from the judge, judicial law clerks, and the law school faculty supervisor, and engage in self-reflection and assessment. Both the work in chambers and the class are graded Credit/No Credit, and there is no final examination. The two credits earned for work in chambers count as two of the permitted six hours of academic credit that can be earned through externships.
During the mandatory 8-week seminar course, co-taught by a federal district judge and SMU Dedman Law professor, students will work on skills to maximize the learning outcomes for their externships. Topics include: Introduction and Orientation to The Role of the Law Clerk/Extern in Chambers, Research and Writing for the Judicial Extern, Confidentiality, Conflicts and Other Ethical Issues in the Courtroom, Common Legal Issues Externs Will Address in Chambers, and the Role of Federal Courts and Federal Judges.