Step outside the classroom and learn to practice law from experienced attorneys.
Through Emory Law's Externship Program, students take the skills and principles they learn in the classroom and learn how they apply in practice. They also gain work experience in different types of practice so they can not only determine which suits them best but also develop relationships that will continue as they begin their legal careers.
Externships are an educational experience in every sense. Students learn about being professionals. They discover that real attorneys and judges wrestle with and take seriously real ethical issues every day, believe in the value of service regardless of their area of practice, and are committed deeply to their clients, the rule of law, and a high standard of excellence. Students also come to appreciate that, throughout their careers, they should strive to identify the ways they can improve their skills and knowledge to become better lawyers.
Over 100 placements host students in the General Externship Program, and 135–165 students participate each semester.
Students have the opportunity to experience what it’s like to work in a public defender or prosecutor’s office, government agency, nonprofit organization, judge’s chambers, or in-house counsel’s office in the Atlanta metro area. An accompanying weekly class guides them through this experience, with topics in one of eight practice areas taught by an instructor with experience in that area.
Prospective externship placements can submit an application to join the General Externship Program online » (Please note this program does not include law firms. If you are a firm with 10 or fewer attorneys, check out our Small Firm Externship Program.)
- Standard externships provide students with 2 credit hours (pass/fail) for the fieldwork.
- Certain placements that offer a distinct and significantly enhanced educational experience may be eligible for more credit hours.
- Regardless of the option chosen, students take the same companion course, which is an additional 1 credit hour pass/fail.
- Students commit to a minimum of 150 hours and 12–14 weeks, including both fieldwork (9–11 hours a week) and class-related work (1–2 hours a week).
- Higher-credit options:
- 200 hours = 3 credits
- 250 hours = 4 credits
- 300 hours = 5 credits
- Current placements may apply for consideration as a higher-credit placement through our online form »
- The Director of Externships posts approved placements (using Symplicity), and students submit their applications online during the designated externship application period, in the semester before the externship term.
- The posting for each placement will indicate whether higher-credit options are available.
- Externship offers are released to students prior to preregistration for the following semester’s courses.
- Current students go to Symplicity to find announcements about the externship application process and review opportunities.
The Small Firm Externship Program engages 3Ls who want to learn specifically about small firm practice settings. Approximately fifteen Atlanta firms of ten or fewer attorneys each participate in the program. Together with Professor Sarah Shalf, the firms host the students and help develop and teach the weekly companion course using an Inn of Court model.
To learn more about becoming a host firm for the Small Firm Externship program, email Professor Sarah Shalf »
- Students commit to a minimum of 150 hours and 12–14 weeks.
- The commitment includes both fieldwork (9–11 hours a week) and class-related work (1–2 hours a week).
- Externships include 2 credit hours pass/fail for the fieldwork and 1 hour pass/fail for the course, for a total of 3 credit hours.
- Students apply online (via Symplicity) during the externship application period the semester before the externship.
- Students indicate interest in small firm practice and rank available firms in order of preference.
- Firms review accepted students' applications, conduct interviews, and rank students in order of preference.
- The Director matches students to firms based on mutual preferences.
Apply on Symplicity »
The Summer Externship Program offers students the opportunity to work anywhere in the world, in a placement that they secure with the approval of the director of the Externship Program.
Students in the program are guided through the externship in a tutorial version of our externship course, with the option of writing an in-depth paper under the supervision of a faculty member for graded credits, with fewer reflection and evaluation assignments.
Students must be rising 3Ls. The program has a strong preference for students with prior externship experience. The placement must be unavailable to the student during the school year (e.g., because it is in another city).
- Students apply to and secure a conditional offer to work at their intended placement. (NOte: students may not receive compensation or grants for summer externships.)
- Placements may be found through a variety of job fairs coordinated by Emory Law, on Symplicity, or through independent sources.
- Students work with their supervising attorneys to develop proposed learning objectives and experiences.
- The supervising attorney signs the Summer Externship Supervisor Agreement »
- The student submits a copy of this agreement with a petition through Symplicity »
If the student elects the paper option, the application also includes
- A proposed topic
- Agreement of the proposed faculty supervisor
Placements and Postings
Organizations, firms, and agencies that wish to post summer opportunities for students should contact the Center for Professional Development and Career Strategy » Your position description should include whether students can work for academic credit.
The Director of Externships will review the materials and discuss with the supervising attorney (and the faculty advisor, if applicable), and determine whether to approve the student’s application. If approved, the student works a minimum of 6 weeks at the placement. To be guided through the learning process, the student has weekly assignments and interactions with an instructor (via phone or online) on topics related to ethics, professional development, and practice skills. Alternatively, for students electing the paper option, the student periodically discusses the progress on the paper and works on drafts with his or her faculty supervisor.
At the middle of the work term, the student produces a midterm self-evaluation and the student and attorney supervisor have an in-depth meeting (in-person or via videoconference) with the instructor in which they discuss the student’s progress. After the work term ends, the student produces a final self-evaluation and has a debrief meeting and exit interview with the instructor.
Students in this program receive 3–6 hours of combined credit for the externship for a total work commitment of 150–300 hours over 6–12 weeks, including both fieldwork and academic coursework. Tuition is paid at the per-credit rate; financial aid may be available.
See the Student Guide to Externships for credit details.