Since 1996, Michigan Law has sent more than 100 students to live and work in South Africa at both non-governmental and governmental agencies around the country, particularly in Cape Town, Johannesburg, and Durban.

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A complete package consists of both an online form and documents sent to shireyk@umich.edu as email attachments.

Documents sent to shireyk@umich.edu must include:

  1. Resume
  2. Essay of Interest (there are no requirements as to length of your Essay, though most are around 3 to 5 pages, double-spaced) 
  3. Preferred Placement Cover Letter (A cover letter must be provided for your top choice placement identified by the student. The letter should state the specific reasons why the student is interested in working at that particular site.  It can simply be addressed to “To Whom It May Concern.”)
  4. If you are doing a last semester externship, a Registrar Checklist.

Information for Students

  • Credits

    Students will earn between 12 and 14 credits for completing the South Africa Externship Program.

    Constitutionalism in South Africa, taught by Professor Karthy Govender, ‘88, is offered in odd years at Michigan Law.  To take advantage of this extremely relevant class, the South Africa Program will be different based on whether it is an even or an odd year.

    In even years, a student will earn a maximum of 14 credits by:

    1. In January, staying in Ann Arbor and enrolling in LAW 680, Constitutionalism in South Africa (2 credits, graded), and a companion South Africa seminar (1 credit, graded)
    2. For the rest of the semester, leaving for South Africa in February and completing 12 weeks' work at a South African organization (10 credits, ungraded). 

    In odd years, when Constitutionalism in South Africa is not offered, students will leave in January and work 12 weeks in South Africa (11 credits, ungraded) while taking a contemporaneous companion seminar (1 credit, graded).

    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.

  • Student Eligibility

    The externship program is open to second-or third-year law students who are in good academic standing at the Law School. 

    Students are not permitted to participate in an externship with more than one incomplete grade on their transcript at the time of their departure.

  • Tuition and Living Expenses

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

  • Application

    You must submit a complete application by Friday, April 1, 2022. It is your responsibility to make sure that all parts of the externship application package have been received by the deadline.

    After you apply, Professor Sankaran will schedule a meeting within a couple of weeks to further explore your application, your interest in the Program, and your desired placements.

    You may submit an application without being fully committed to the South Africa Program. However, once we agree on a placement and send student materials, you must be fully committed to completing an externship in South Africa if accepted by the organization. 

  • Placement Sites

    Placements may be available for the following locations, though we are happy to work with you to create placements at other sites based on your interests:

    Center for Applied Legal Studies 

    Community Law Centre 

    Constitutional Court 

    Human Rights Commission 

    Lawyers for Human Rights 

    Legal Aid of South Africa 

    Legal Resources Centre 

    Refugee Clinic, University of Cape Town  

    Southern Africa Litigation Centre 

  • Requirements

    Supervising Attorney Evaluation

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

    Supervising Attorney Evaluation 


    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.​​​​​

    Overseas Travel Waiver

    Overseas Travel Requirements

  • In Their Own Words: Advice from Past South Africa Externs

    Students considering an externship in South Africa typically have questions that are best answered by previous externs. 

    Read Testimonials (pdf)