Q. What is an externship?
A. An externship is part-time, unpaid work for academic credit in an organization in the Atlanta area that has agreed to partner with Emory Law in providing a real-world educational experience. In addition to the work component in which students are supervised by an attorney employed by the placement organization, students have a weekly, one-hour class in which they reflect on and discuss issues raised in their placements.
Q. How is an externship different from a clinic?
A. Emory Law's clinics are run by full-time clinical faculty, who provide the academic and work supervision. Thus, clinics are a more intensive and integrated experience. Clinic students in clinics may have more in-depth experience in the clinic's specialty than they would get in a externship. However, there are a wider variety of externships. Additionally, many externship organizations employ Emory graduates, so an externship can be a way to work with potential employers directly; students may network with potential employers only indirectly in a clinic.
Q. How many externships can I take?
A. You can take up to two externships, one of which may be a yearlong placement.
Q. Can I take a clinic in addition to an externship?
A. Yes, and in fact, we recommend that you take an externship or two before taking the more intensive clinical offering. However, you normally cannot take an externship and a clinic at the same time (nor can you take more than one externship at a time).
Q. Who is eligible for an externship?
A. You must be at least a second-year law student at the time of the placement. Some organizations further limit their placements to third-year law students or have other eligibility requirements.
Q. Do I have to find an organization willing to sponsor me in a externship?
A. No. We have an approved roster of up to 80 organizations that have agreed to partner with Emory Law in providing supervision to law students. They participate in a unified application and interview process managed by the externship director. You can review the list of placements on Symplicity (click on Jobs | Externships and Clinics).
Current Emory Law Students
Q. How do I get into an externship?
A. Watch for the kick off about a month into each semester, which begins the application process for the following semester's placements. Using Symplicity, students review available placements and can apply to as many as four placements each semester. Organizations then interview candidates and make their decisions about a month before the end of the semester.
Q. I got an offer from a placement. What do I do now?
A. After accepting the offer in Symplicity, you also must sign the electronic agreement, also in Symplicity. (See the User Guide for more details). The externship director will send you a registration number once you have completed the externship agreement.
Q. If I know of an organization I'd like to work for during the school year, can I get credit for it?
A. Perhaps, but the organization must be informed of its responsibilities as a externship supervisor and approved by the externship director prior to the beginning of the semester, and any such work must be unpaid. However, the director encourages students who see a demand for a type of placement and who know of an organization willing to fulfill that demand, to inform the director (or ask the organization to contact the director).
Q. I worked for an organization over the summer, and they would like me to continue part time during the school year. Can I get credit for this?
A. If the work is for a for-profit organization, no. Under federal law, for-profit organizations are not allowed to have "employees" who work for free. If a student has previously worked as a paid intern (and thus an employee), they still may be considered an employee even after transitioning to an unpaid externship.
Even if the organization is a nonprofit or government entity, we discourage this sort of "continuation." To justify receiving academic credit, a student wishing to continue in a position they held over the summer must petition the director to explain what she/he was doing in the summer position, and how the work in the fall placement would be substantially different so that the student would be developing a new skill or working in a different capacity than she/he did during the summer. Additionally, if the organization is not approved as a placement, it must seek approval.
Subject to law school policies on outside employment, a student may work part time at any organization of his or her choosing during the school year, regardless of whether she/he receives externship credit for it. A student may find a way to receive directed research credit under the sponsorship of a faculty member if the work for the organization lends itself to a research project. And students who work in certain public interest placements may receive credit for their time as pro bono hours under the Pro Bono Program.
Q. How many hours do I spend on-site in an externship?
A. Starting in Fall 2013, when there will be a weekly class students will be required to make a total commitment of 150 hours, including class time, other assignments, and fieldwork (but not including time commuting to and from the office), so students are advised to plan to work, on average, 9-11 hours a week, plus the one-hour weekly class.
Q. If I work more than 150 hours, can I get more academic credit?
A. No, a standard field placement is a 3-hour credit, pass-fail class (these credit hours do NOT count toward the total of optional Pass/Fail credits that students may elect to take in graded courses). Emory Law may develop specialized, more intensive programs for specific practice areas, which may warrant more credit, but the hours allowed for a standard field placement are fixed. Of course, if you work in certain public interest placements for hours over and above the 150 hours required for the field placement, you will receive credit for the excess time as pro bono hours under the Pro Bono Program.
Current Externship Students
Q. I’m excited to start my placement. Can I go ahead and start working before the semester begins?
A. No, you must perform the required hours during the semester. However, you should contact your supervisor and take care of any required paperwork before you begin.
Q. I remember hearing something about a background check for my placement. When do I do that?
A. Because this process occurs late in the semester and during break, we have instituted a policy requiring students to be proactive about this process. Upon accepting an offer, you are required to find out from your placement what requirements or paperwork you will need to complete in order to start work. You will report this information in Symplicity, and sign a series of agreements about staying in touch and on top of these requirements. If your placement is not being responsive, contact Prof. Shalf for assistance/advice -- but it is ultimately your responsibility to make sure this gets done in time.
Q. How do I get in touch with my supervisor?
A. You may log into Symplicity to get the contact information for the primary contact for your placement, by clicking on “Profile,” then on “Exp. Learning,” and then click on the Job Posting “Extern” which contains all of the information about the placement. While this person may not be your supervisor, he or she will be responsible for putting you in touch with your direct supervisor. For more information, review the User Guide.
Q. I’ve exceeded the hours required, and it’s only 10 weeks into the semester. Can I just stop going (and stop logging my time)?
A. You are required to work at the placement for a minimum of 12 weeks out of the semester, both to ensure a balanced experience and so that the organization can expect you on a regular basis. You should continue working at the placement and continue logging the hours, but you can (with the agreement of your supervisor) reduce the hours you spend each week. If you are working at a pro bono qualified placement, you can credit any fieldwork hours you work beyond your hours requirement toward your pro bono obligation under the Pro Bono Program.
Q. I really like my placement, and they would like me to stay. Can I continue in it for another semester?
A. We discourage this sort of "continuation." To justify receiving academic credit, a student wishing to continue in an externship must petition the committee to explain what she/he was doing in the placement this semester, and how the work in the subsequent semester would be substantially different, so that the student would be developing a new skill or working in a different capacity than she/he did during the first semester.
Subject to law school policies on outside employment, a student may work part time at any organization of his or her choosing during the school year, regardless of whether she/he receives externship credit for it. A student may find a way to receive directed research credit under the sponsorship of a faculty member if the work for the organization lends itself to a research project. And, students who work in certain public interest placements may receive credit for their time as pro bono hours under the Pro Bono Program.