My externship “always gets the most attention on my resume”

"I always tell people the Geneva Externship program is why I decided to attend the University of Michigan Law School," starts Christian Husby, ’17, as he describes his externship with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) in Geneva.... 

A suited man stands on a rock overlooking Lac Léman in Geneva, Switzerland.

Litigating for education reform in South Africa

Katie Joh, ’17, recounts her experience with the Legal Resources Centre in Eastern Cape, South Africa. She coordinated with schools, administrators, and parents in support of education reform litigation...

Katie Joh, '17, stands with her South Africa externship colleagues, one of whom shows an iPhone app.

Our International Externships

Every winter semester, Michigan Law offers three distinct international externship programs. 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 an externship, speak with Professor Amy Sankaran, Externship Program Director.

Make an Appointment

About Our International Externships

  • Which international externship program is right for me?

    Geneva is best for those who are interested in seeing the 10,000 foot view of international law and how international bodies function in our global world. 

    India is best for someone who considers themselves more entrepreneurial, as India has new startups and NGOs arising seemingly every day.

    South Africa is best for those who want to see domestic law in a foreign country, as it is more focused on direct services. 

  • How do the credits work?

    Please note that none of the fieldwork counts toward the rule that requires, "all law school J.D. graduates must have earned a minimum of 64 credit hours in “regularly scheduled law classes.”" However, Geneva’s two-credit companion seminar does. And in odd years, when Constitutionalism in South Africa is offered, those two credits also count. The seminar for South Africa and India do not.

    Please also note that the 64-credit rule is a graduation requirement, while the 63-credit rule, which says that you need 63 credits for Honors, is not a graduation requirement. If you have any questions about these rules or any other, please speak with the Registrar’s Office.

    Externship Credit Details

  • Is there housing?

    You must secure housing on your own, though past students have assembled their wisdom in a guide we will share with you to help with housing and all other travel-related, country-specific advice.

    Most students use AirBnB—securing either temporary housing and searching for more permanent housing after arriving or securing housing for the duration before arrival.

  • What are the costs?

    There is no fee for any of these programs. Rather, you pay regular tuition, and any financial aid that you already receive (loans, grants, scholarships) applies to the externship credits just like taking classes in Ann Arbor.

    There is a $3,000 fellowship award for the Geneva Program, to defray expenses in that city, for those participating at in-person placements.

    For all programs, you can speak with Financial Aid and request a higher budget to cover additional costs you anticipate incurring, such as your flights, vaccinations, and other paperwork.

  • Do full-time externs have finals?


    The only exception is the 2-credit Constitutionalism in South Africa, when taught while Professor Govender is in Ann Arbor. In those years, the class will have a final.

  • How competitive are these programs?

    We do not have grade cutoffs, and you are not required to have a particular background to be selected (no background at all is completely fine).  

    Sometimes we do have more candidates than we can place. Geneva has a cap of 15, for example, and there have been a few years where we’ve received more than 15 applications and had to turn away a few.

    More frequently, though, we have more applicants for a particular site than we can send, so we have to suggest you consider your other choices. We will meet with you to discuss your choices and to give you a sense of how popular a given site is in that year. In all cases, it is our goal to send as many students as possible to their first or second choice. If we go to your third choice, we will consult with you first.

    It is worth noting that many of these sites are very competitive if you tried to obtain placements on your own, in both Geneva and South Africa. So while they are not competitive among U-M law students, they are competitive for the rest of the world to obtain.

  • Should I do this as a 2L or 3L?

    There is one site in Geneva, the U.S. Mission to the U.N., that you must do as a 2L (or have at least one semester of coursework remaining). 

    Beyond that site, this is a question of personal preference. In our experience, 2Ls and 3Ls do externships in equal numbers. 

    Professors Nicol and Sankaran are happy to counsel you on your particular situation.

  • Do I need language skills?

    In Geneva, there is one site (UNHCR: Petitions) that requires language ability. 

    For the rest, English is the working language. Of course, additional languages are helpful and welcome, but not required.