About the Externship Programs

Michigan Law has established externships based in Geneva, Switzerland, South Africa, and India that expand and enrich the Law School's extensive curriculum in international and foreign law, and make it possible for students to engage in legal work with agencies grappling with the most challenging international problems and legal issues of the day.

Full-Time Externship Program

Students receive a full semester's worth of credits and can go anywhere in the United States or world while working at a nonprofit or government agency of your choice.

Part-Time Externship Program

Students receive three to five credits and propose their own positions at local government, nonprofit, or judicial placements.

Placements

Externship interest meetings for the full-time and part-time programs are held near the beginning of each semester. An externship interest meeting for Geneva, India, and South Africa is held every January, with student panels scattered throughout the fall. If you are interested in pursuing an externship, we advise you to attend one of these sessions or make an appointment to speak with Professor Amy Sankaran via Symplicity.

For the full-time and part-time programs, you do not need to have a placement secured to apply; in fact, you must apply by the deadline to be considered for the externship, and you should list all the placements you are considering.

The deadline for the full-time program is in late October for Winter externships and late March for Fall externships the semester before you are planning to go. The current full-time deadlines can be found here. The part-time program deadline is May 1 for the fall semester and December 1 for the winter semester. The deadline for Geneva, India, and South Africa typically falls on the Monday of winter break for a departure the following January.

An externship may not be undertaken with an organization engaged in providing legal services of any nature for profit. Full-time externships with judges are typically not allowed without special permission; however, part-time and international externships with courts are permitted.

Special care must be taken in structuring a program with a legislative office to guard against diversion from legal education to political effort; staff positions with legislative committees are thus more likely to be approved than positions with individual legislators or elected officials.

Special care must also be taken by a student proposing work for a small organization to ensure the organization has a sufficient agenda of worthwhile projects and is able to provide careful and adequate supervision.

You may not accept payment from the externship placement for work done during the externship, except for reimbursement of reasonable out-of-pocket expenses related to the program.

Tuition and Living Expenses

Externs pay their regular tuition, and their regular aid package (loans and scholarships) applies.

Full-Time Externships

Full-time externships offer students the opportunity to integrate practical experience in a legal setting outside the Law School with a Law School classroom experience. Students work full-time under the supervision of an attorney at a U.S. or international nonprofit or government agency.

Students arrange their own placements, though interested students who need guidance about how to pursue a placement are welcome to make an appointment with the course professor, Amy Sankaran, by scheduling ​online.

There is also a one-credit classroom component to the full-time externship program that discusses topics such as professionalism, supervision, and wellness in the legal profession. Please check the upcoming class schedule for the date and time of the seminar. If you cannot attend the seminar, contact Amy Sankaran to explore alternative arrangements.

Externship programs are under the jurisdiction of the Curriculum Committee. You are responsible for following the correct procedures for your externship application/proposal as outlined below. You may not receive any compensation for your work.

Make an Appointment

  • Credits

    You will earn 12 credits for an approved externship program in a regular academic term. One credit is allocated to a seminar with the balance awarded for full-time work at a non-profit or government agency during the course of the entire semester. The fieldwork credits will be graded on a mandatory pass/fail basis, while the one-credit seminar is graded.

    A student who would like to receive additional credits may propose an optional paper or project for either one, two, or three credits. You must secure a faculty sponsor and submit that information with your proposal, as well as noting the number of credits you would like to receive. The paper/project is typically graded.

    You may not enroll in an additional course beyond the externship courses, either here at Michigan Law or another law school, unless there are extraordinary circumstances.

    It is expected that you will devote full time to the externship for the duration of the term of enrollment. You may not engage in both the externship and study abroad program during your matriculation at the Law School.

  • Student Eligibility

    Only students who have completed their first year core requirements are eligible for an externship program. Only students in good academic standing are eligible to participate in an externship. In deciding whether to approve an externship program, the members of the Committee may take into account the student's academic performance at the Law School.

    The Committee will more than likely not approve a proposal from a student who has two or more outstanding Incompletes on his or her transcript at the time the proposal is submitted. You are not permitted to enroll in an externship with more than one Incomplete grade on your transcript at the time of your departure.

  • Application Process

    After you have identified possible externship placements or finalized an externship placement (you must apply by the deadline whether or not you have finalized your placement) and secured a faculty sponsor, if necessary, you must submit a PDF copy of all of the required documents in one email to lawexternships@umich.edu, with "Full-Time Externship Application" and your name in the subject line.

    Applications are reviewed by Professor Amy Sankaran and then sent for approval to the Curriculum Committee. In considering the application, the Committee may take into account multiple factors, including the Law School's experience with the agency, your academic record, the demonstrated quality of the agency's educational and supervisory commitment, and the final recommendation of Professor Sankaran. The application package consists of five parts:

    • A brief application form
    • Your written proposal (see below)
    • Your resume
    • And if seeking to do an optional paper/project, an email statement from a faculty member committing to supervising the paper/project and the number of additional credits sought, which can be sent to lawexternships@umich.edu. If you have not yet decided whether to add a paper or project, it can be added at a later date.

    If you have secured a placement, you must also include:

    • The full-time supervising attorney agreement; and
    • The supervising​ attorney's resume or equivalent document.

    If you are proposing a final semester externship, there is one additional requirement:

    • A completed externship checklist showing that at the end of the externship all requirements for your degree will have been met.

    It is your responsibility to make sure that all parts of the externship application package have been received by the deadline.

    • The deadline to submit a proposal for the Winter 2021 externship is October 26, 2020 at 5:00 P.M.
    • The deadline to submit a proposal for a Fall 2021 externship is March 22, 2021 at 5:00 P.M.

    YOU DO NOT NEED TO HAVE A POSITION SECURED TO APPLY. Instead, you must list all the sites you are considering in your proposal. Failure to list a possible placement might lead to you being unable to extern at that placement.


    The Proposal

    You should enumerate the specific educational objectives you hope to achieve through the proposed externship and the manner in which this will occur. The written proposal should address the following:

    • Name and description of the host organization(s). Again, you do not have to have a placement finalized to apply; you may list more than one possibility.
    • Work to be performed/duties and responsibilities.
    • Specific educational objectives.
    • Why the educational objectives cannot be achieved in the classroom.
    • How the externship will build on your academic experience.
    • How the externship will build on your prior work experience.
    • If you have ever worked at this placement before (or will be working there before the externship commences), please describe how your externship will be substantially different than your past experience(s).
    • If you are doing a research paper, the name of your faculty sponsor for your paper, and as specific a description as possible of the topic for your research paper.


    Optional Faculty Sponsor Statement

    If you are undertaking an optional paper/project, the faculty sponsor must provide written confirmation of his or her commitment to supervise and grade your paper/project at the end of the externship. This confirmation may be sent via email to lawexternships@umich.edu. If you have not yet decided whether to add a paper or project, it can be added at a later date.


    Host Supervisor Statement

    The host organization must provide a signed Supervising Attorney Agreement which describes the site's obligation to our student and a resume of a supervising attorney or the equivalent.

    Once an externship proposal has been approved by the Committee, Professor Sankaran will vet the proposed site by discussing the program with the supervising attorney at the host organization and confirming the commitments described above.

    Full-time Supervising Attorney Agreement (pdf)

    Externship Checklist (pdf)

    Sample Externship Proposal (pdf)

  • Full-Time Externship Placement Sites

    We are more than happy to counsel you about site selection; in fact, we welcome the opportunity. Please email us or visit Symplicity to make an appointment with Professor Amy Sankaran, Director of Externships and Pro Bono Programs. If you are thinking about international sites, in particular, you can also contact Anna Nicol, Coordinator of the Geneva Externship, at awnichol@umich.edu.

    Email Us

    Make an Appointment

  • International Full-Time Externship Requirements

    As a condition of enrolling for overseas externship credit, you must complete an Overseas Travel Waiver. This requirement applies whether or not the U.S. State Department has issued a travel alert or travel warning for the country to which you plan to travel. See the Overseas Travel Requirements page for more complete information.

    Overseas Travel Waiver (pdf)

    Overseas Travel Requirements 

Part-Time Externships

Part-time externships offer students the opportunity to integrate practical experience in a legal setting outside the Law School with a Law School classroom experience. Students spend at least eight hours per week working under the supervision of an attorney at a local nonprofit, government agency, or court. You may not receive any compensation for their work.

Students arrange their own placements, though interested students who need guidance about how to pursue a placement are welcome to make an appointment with the course professor, Amy Sankaran, by scheduling ​online.

Past placements have included the ACLU of Michigan, the Washtenaw County Prosecutor's Office, the Washtenaw County Office of the Public Defender, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Michigan, and the Executive Office of Immigration Review.

There is also a classroom component to the part-time externship program. The class meets 9 times during the semester and discusses topics such as professionalism, supervision, and ethics. Please check the upcoming class schedule for the date and time of the seminar. If you cannot attend the seminar, contact Amy Sankaran to explore alternative arrangements.

Make an Appointment

  • Credits

    Students earn 3, 4, 5, or 6 credits for an approved externship program in a regular academic term depending on the number of hours worked at the placement. All students receive 1 credit for the mandatory seminar. 

    • Section 1 = 8 hours of work per week (2 credits plus 1 for the seminar)
    • Section 2 = 12 hours of work per week (3 credits plus 1 for the seminar)
    • Section 3 = 16 hours of work per week (4 credits plus 1 for the seminar)
    • Section 4 = 20 hours of work per week (5 credits plus 1 for the seminar)

    While typically, we only allow in-person work placements, all remote placements are allowed at this time.

    A student may not take LAW 990/991, Part-time Externship, and be enrolled in a seven-credit clinic during the same semester.

  • Registration Deadlines and Enrollment Process

    You do not bid for LAW 990/991, Part-time Externship, using the CBI system. Instead, if you are seeking to enroll in the class, you must submit:

    1. An application​
    2. A current resume sent to lawexternships@umich.edu with your name and Part-Time Externship Application in the subject line.
    3. A Supervising Attorney Agreement​ signed by the Site Supervisor (at some point before the externship begins).

    You do not have to have a placement secured to apply; you may apply by listing proposed placements in the application and submit #3 above once the placement is finalized.

    Priority will be given to students who apply by May 1 for a fall semester part-time externship and December 1 for a winter semester part-time externship. If there are spots available after those dates, they will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis.

    Permission to enroll in this class is granted exclusively by Professor Sankaran during the weeks prior to the semester in which the externship will take place. You must have your placement finalized no later than one week prior to the first day of the semester.

    Application

    Part-Time Supervising Attorney Agreement (pdf)

  • Externship Evaluations

    Supervising Attorney Evaluation

    Your supervising attorney at the host organization must submit a formal written evaluation of your performance to the Office of Experiential Learning at the end of the externship. This evaluation should detail the work you have done and the supervisor's evaluation of your work during the time period covered.

    Site Supervisor Evaluation


    Student Evaluation of Externship Site

    At the end of your externship, please use the link below to evaluate your externship placement, including what type of work you did, how you found your position, and your overall experience. Your information will be shared with future students via the Public Service Network, if you opt to allow it, and we really hope you will! To read about prior students’ externship experiences, please visit the Public Service Network.​​​​

    Public Service Network

  • Information for Part-Time Externship Host Organizations

    Externships, also known as external studies opportunities, offer an exciting opportunity to augment classroom study with real-world work experience.

    Michigan's externship program is designed to provide individual students with advanced training and research opportunities in areas of particular interest to them that go beyond what is traditionally offered in a classroom setting.


    Educational Commitment and Supervising Attorney Agreement

    The host organization must be shown to have undertaken a specifically educational commitment to the student, including an explicit statement that the student will be supervised by an identified attorney or group of attorneys. There must be a commitment to participate with the student in analyzing and discussing the intellectual lessons to be drawn from the student's experience.

    The attorneys who supervise the student must assume responsibility for continuous evaluation of the student's work, with particular attention paid to ways in which it can be improved.

    The host organization must also agree not to use student externs primarily for undesirable make-work tasks, such as cite-checking or perfunctory research projects.

    Therefore, the host organization must sign a Supervising Attorney Agreement​​​ that demonstrates its commitment to the student and his or her learning.


    Evaluation

    The student's supervising attorney at the host organization must submit the formal evaluation at the conclusion of the semester.

    Part-Time Supervising Attorney Agreement (pdf)

    Site Supervisor Evaluation