Step outside the classroom and learn to practice law from experienced attorneys.
Take the skills and principles you learn in the classroom and learn how they apply in practice. Emory Law's Externship Program provides work experience in different types of practice so you can determine which suits you best and develop relationships that will continue as you begin your legal career.
Externships are an educational experience in every sense. Students learn about being professionals. You 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. You will also come to appreciate that, throughout your career, you should strive to improve your skills and knowledge to become better lawyers.
More than 120 placements host students in the General Externship Program, and 150–175 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 you 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 fieldwork credit hours. Certain placements that offer a distinct and significantly enhanced educational experience may apply through our online form » to be eligible for more fieldwork credit hours.
- Students take a companion course, which is an additional 1 credit hour pass/fail.
- Students commit to a minimum of 150 hours and 12–14 weeks, including fieldwork (9–11 hours a week) and classwork (1–2 hours a week). Higher-credit options are:
- 200 hours = 3 credits of fieldwork
- 250 hours = 4 credits of fieldwork
- 300 hours = 5 credits of fieldwork
- The Director of Externships posts approved placements (using Symplicity), and students submit applications online during the designated externship application period, in the semester before the externship term.
- The posting for each placement indicates whether higher-credit options are available.
- Externship offers are released to students prior to preregistration for the following semester’s courses.
- Go to Symplicity to find announcements about the externship application process and to review opportunities.
The Small Firm Externship Program engages 3Ls who want to learn specifically about small firm practice settings. Atlanta firms of ten or fewer attorneys host the students and participate in the weekly companion course.
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 fieldwork (9–11 hours a week) and classwork (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.
- This program is not eligible fo the higher credit option.
- 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.
- After students have accepted their offers, 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 you 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 other written assignments.
- Students must be rising 3Ls.
- Preference is given 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 must plan to work at least 6 weeks.
- Students apply to and secure a conditional offer to work at the intended placement. (Note: students may not receive compensation or grants for summer externships. Financial aid is available for 5-6 credit placements.)
- Placements are not pre-approved and 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 their application through Symplicity »
- If the student elects the paper option, the application also includes the proposed topic and name of the 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 an indication that 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.
During the placement, an Emory Law instructor guides the student through the learning process with weekly assignments and other interactions (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 is available for 5-6 credit hours. Scholarships cannot be used for summer externships.
See the Student Guide to Externships for credit details.