Mid-Size and Small Firm Externship Program

The Mid-Size and Small Firm Externship is an academic program that combines a weekly class component with hands-on fieldwork in a mid-size or small firm. The course is offered during the Spring semester of each academic year.

For the class component, students will work on skills to maximize the learning outcomes for their externships, while also learning about practical aspects of a law practice. Some of the weekly topics covered in class include creating a professional development plan, learning through reflection and supervision, understanding ethics and professionalism, and maintaining mental health and wellness. Practice-related topics include Understanding the Client Relationship, Contract Basics, Litigation Basics, Negotiation Basics, Marketing and Business Development, The Business of Law, and How to Succeed as a New Associate. Law firm attorneys will guest lecture in some of the classes, adding yet another opportunity for students to learn from, and interface with, lawyers in the private sector. The class component also includes regular reading assignments, reflective writings, and one class presentation.

For the field component, students will be matched with law firms based on practice areas of interest. Students will work at their placement over the course of 12 weeks in the Spring, and must log a minimum of 120 hours of work to earn academic credit. In addition to substantive work assigned by the law firms, students will be responsible to submit weekly time entries, a skill that will carry on into private practice. Students receive regular feedback, training, and mentorship from their law firm supervisors, and are given the opportunity to ask questions, observe client meetings, depositions, trials, etc., and participate in various aspects of lawyering under the supervision of a licensed attorney. Both students and the law firms will also complete mid-term and final evaluations.

For more information about the program, please email Smitha Mathews at mathews@smu.edu.