Michigan Law offers students the opportunity to participate in a semester-long externship in Geneva during the winter term each year with leading intergovernmental and nongovernmental (NGO) institutions.
You will be immersed in the work of these international institutions and closely supervised by their legal staff. You will have an opportunity to explore how international legal regimes intersect with such diverse fields as trade, human rights, intellectual property, environment, telecommunications and health.
Externs participate in a contemporaneous seminar intended to provide them substantive context for your externship by focusing on the roles and practices of international organizations and NGOs and the place of law in their work.
The Geneva externship is managed by Amy Sankaran, director of externships and pro bono programs. The faculty supervisor for the students and the Geneva-based program coordinator is Anna Nicol, adjunct clinical assistant professor of law.
Each student who plans to pursue an externship in Geneva must submit a complete Geneva Externship Application Package. You can attach all documents to the online application or send the documents electronically to firstname.lastname@example.org. Documents must include:
- Essay of Interest (there are no requirements as to length of your essay, though most are around three to five pages, double-spaced)
- Letter of recommendation from a Michigan law professor (sent to email@example.com)
- One Cover Letter (address letter "To whom it may concern," and leave the address blank)
- And, if you are doing a last semester externship, a Registrar Checklist
The Geneva Externship awards 13 credits total: 11 credits for the field placement work (pass/fail) and two credits (graded) for the related seminar. In some cases, a student may write an academic research paper for an additional one or two credits. If you are interested in this option, please speak with Professor Anna Nicol.
Students who propose a final semester externship must also include in their application packet a completed Registrar Checklist showing that at the end of the externship all requirements for their degree will have been met.
The externship program is open to second- or third-year law students who are in good academic standing at the Law School.
Some placements have additional specific course prerequisites (see the prior year’s list linked below). If you choose one of these organizations and we place you there, you must complete all prerequisites before going to Geneva. Many prerequisites can be taken care of the fall before you go.
Tuition and Living Expenses
Students who pursue an externship in Geneva are known as Geneva International Fellows, each of whom receives a $3,000 fellowship to assist with Geneva-related expenses. Externs pay their regular tuition, and their regular aid package (loans and scholarships) applies.
You must submit a complete application by Monday, June 14, 2021. It is your responsibility to make sure that all parts of the externship application package have been received by the deadline, which includes a letter of recommendation from a faculty member.
Next, Professors Nicol and Sankaran will schedule a meeting within a couple of weeks to further explore your application, your interest in the Program, and your desired placements.
Finally, a Committee of faculty members and administrators will review all the applications and place students with various agencies.
You will be notified shortly after the selection meeting whether you were selected as a Geneva Fellow and to what agency. Please note that the specific agency may have their own application and interview process; the agency is not required to accept our candidate.
You may submit an application without being fully committed to the Geneva Program. During the meeting with Professors Nicol and Sankaran, we will give you a date by which you must notify us if you change your mind.
However, once that date passes, you must be fully committed to completing an externship in Geneva, as you are potentially taking a spot from another interested student.
Geneva Student Guide
Hear from past externs about their experiences at different placement sites in Geneva.
Geneva Placement Sites
The following is a list of possible placement sites in Geneva. If you are interested in the Geneva Externship Program, you are welcome to consult with Professors Anna Nicol (awnicol) or Amy Sankaran (aharwell) via Symplicity or email.
The Geneva Externship Program is a 13-credit, semester-long course that combines field placements with leading International Organizations (IOs) and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) in Geneva (11 credits, pass/fail) with a contemporaneous Seminar (two credits, graded) intended to provide substantive context for the externships.
The goals of the program are that students:
- develop their knowledge and understanding of public international law, the role and function of International Organizations and Non-Governmental Organizations, as well as the practice of various specialty areas practiced in the international context (e.g., International Trade Law);
- improve their ability to perform lawyering skills in an international context, e.g., conducting research, drafting documents, analyzing legislation, monitoring developments in international law, discussion issues and policy implications, developing strategic plans, negotiating on behalf of an organization, or speaking publicly on behalf of an organization;
- are exposed to the range of effective lawyering in an international context;
- further develop their professional working relationships with attorneys practicing in the field, support staff, and peers; and
- become a self-directed learner and reflective practitioner, intentional about their on-going professional development, and actively engaged in their supervisory relationship.
In addition to the field placement, you are expected to do the following as part of the Seminar:
- attend approximately 13 seminar sessions, divided between guest lectures/visits and roundtable discussions;
- submit written submissions in the form of bi-weekly Reflective Essays, a Final Report, and a Student Guide contribution. These written submissions are designed to solicit reflective description of your daily work, the nature of the projects they are working on, the role they play in their assigned projects, and the supervision and feedback they are receiving; and
- provide three Work Products samples.
Supervisor Evaluations and Site Visits
Supervisors are asked to submit two performance evaluations during the course of an externship. In addition, approximately half-way through the semester, a faculty member will conduct a Site Visit at the placement. The Site Visit is an opportunity to meet with the supervisor to discuss the nature and level of the work done by the office, the assignments given, the adequacy of supervision, and your performance.
It is your responsibility to ensure these evaluations are submitted.
Overseas Travel Waiver
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.