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

You’ll arrange your own placement, though if you need guidance on how to pursue a placement, please make an appointment with Professor Amy Sankaran. We are more than happy to counsel you about site selection; in fact, we welcome the opportunity. 

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.

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Full-time Externship Program Details

Students, before you proceed, be sure to read the policies and regulations governing Michigan Law externships. 

Externship Program Policies

  • 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 nonprofit 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 do not have to decide about adding a paper at the time of application; you can add a paper anytime before or during the externship semester.

    In lieu of a paper, you may enroll in one additional course beyond the externship courses, with permission from the Externship Director and your site supervisor. Since the externship cannot be remote, if you will be working outside Ann Arbor, the course will either need to be on-line or allow hybrid participation.

  • Eligibility

    Only students who have completed their first-year requirements are eligible for an externship. Only students in good academic standing are eligible to participate in an externship.

How to Apply

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), please submit your application on MCompass.

Applications are reviewed by the Externship Director. She determines whether the proposed placements are in accordance with our Externship Program Policies. If you are seeking an exception to our policies, the Curriculum Committee reviews those requests.

  • The deadline to submit a proposal for a Fall Full-Time Externship is April 1.
  • The deadline to submit a proposal for the Winter Full-Time Externship is November 1.

Externs should bid on a full slate of classes during class bidding. That will ensure that externs will never lose their full-time status, plus, if anything falls through for you or the site, you will have classes you selected, not just what is left. Please do NOT bid on clinics, as dropping clinics at the last minute is very challenging for those programs. We will work with you and the Registrar to get you enrolled in the proper externship classes a week or two before the semester begins.

Questions?      Externship Program Policies

  • Application Process Overview

    The application package consists of five parts:

    • Find your opportunity and fill out an application form in M-Compass
    • Your written proposal
    • 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 [email protected]. If you have not yet decided whether to add a paper or project, it can be added at a later date.
    • Once your application is confirmed you must complete the full-time supervising attorney agreement and upload it to your application. It is due one week before classes start.

    If you are doing an externship in your final semester, please review your graduation requirements to ensure any remaining requirements will be satisfied by the externship. Please consult the registrar if you have any questions regarding graduation requirements.

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


    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.

  • 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 from your past experience(s).
      • Full-time repeat placements are permitted only in exceptional circumstances. Students seeking to repeat a prior placement on a full-time basis must provide a written explanation regarding what they expect to learn that they were unable to accomplish in their first term of employment. In deciding whether to approve the request, the Externship Director will consider whether the student will (1) focus on a different area of law, (2) handle matters with a higher level of complexity, and (3) be entrusted with higher levels of direct responsibility.
    • 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. If you do not know whether you want to do a paper, you can omit this and decide anytime before or during the externship.
  • Faculty Sponsor Statement (Optional)

    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 [email protected]. 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 placement site must sign a Memorandum of Understand or equivalent document that codifies the organization’s educational commitment to the student.

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