How can I learn to maximize my legal education while gaining meaningful experience?


Externship Testimonials

Externship Program Testimonials

Experiential learning is essentially an educational cycle premised on learning through action, learning by doing, learning through experience, and learning through discovery and exploration.  Confucius was credited with saying "I hear and I forget, I see and I remember, I do and I understand."  Confucius, 450 B.C.  Even great colonial leaders like Benjamin Franklin have acknowledged the value of this educational model:  "Tell me and I forget, Teach me and I remember, Involve me and I will learn."  Benjamin Franklin, 1750.

Since its inception, the Appalachian School of Law has recognized that experiential learning is a vital learning component for its students.  As reflected in the following testimonials, ASL's students and recent graduates accelerate their educations by building a strong foundation from this educational model.

Personal Testimonials

Misti Napier-BurtonMisti Napier-Burton

I believe that the externship is the best requirement that ASL mandates.  For myself, as a person who learns better by doing, I was able to put the things that I learned in my 1L classes to work.  It allowed me to see why we were learning the things we were and how "real attorneys" apply these concepts in practice.  A definite plus in the ASL curriculum.

Melanie GhawMelanie Ghaw

As an extern at Central Jersey Legal Services, I had the opportunity to work directly with the clients and become an integral part of their case. My supervisor involved me in every aspect of our clients' cases, including interviewing the clients, investigating facts, writing motions, and appearing alongside them in court. I worked on a broad range of civil issues including Family Law and Landlord/Tenant Law. The externship was valuable in gaining practical experience and knowledge, and in establishing connections with other attorneys in the area. It has been one of the most important and valuable aspects in paving my career path, and I am grateful to have had the opportunity to participate.

Cathy ReynoldsCathy Reynolds

I had the amazing opportunity to complete my 1L externship with the Virginia Workers' Compensation Commission. The  Through this externship, I learned about the process the injured worker goes through to determine compensation eligibility while he/she is out of work as a result of the on the job injury.  I also learned of the defenses the insurance companies may raise as a result of the claimant's claim. I also learned of various other benefits available to the claimant as a result of an on the job injury. The externship also consisted of attending hearings, as well as mediations. Observing the hearings and mediations enabled me to take notice of the various styles lawyers use in a legal environment.  As a result of the externship, I am considering practicing Workers' Compensation law, or another area of administrative law.

DeMarcus KillionDeMarcus Killion

I would say that my externship experience was a valuable one. Words cannot express how enjoyable it was. I am from Memphis, TN, so I decided I would do my externship there. I worked with Criminal Court Judge W. Mark Ward. He is even the author of a book law schools in Tennessee use, Tennessee Criminal Practice. This externship gave me insight into the justice system. Some of which I knew, somethings I learned along the way. I took what I learned in class at ASL and put it to work. Working with a judge also afforded me the opportunity to see things from an array of angles. There were days where I worked with Prosecutors as well as Public Defenders. My input was taking into consideration. I felt as if I made a difference or helped people within the Memphis community each day I went to work. I still keep in touch with the judge.

Gregory BishopGregory Bishop

I found the ASL externship program very rewarding from both a personal and professional perspective.  I worked in a prosecuting attorney's office in West Virginia.  The externship program allowed me to apply what I learned in the classroom and gain practical legal experience.  I researched legal issues, drafted legal memoranda, interviewed witnesses, and assisted in trial preparation and strategy.  I also met lawyers, judges, courtroom personnel and others who I will likely work with in the future. In fact, I used my third year practice certificate the following summer in the same office.  The ASL externship is an excellent way to gain a practical understanding of legal concepts, develop a career network, and have fun.

Sherra Kissee Sherra Kissee

My externship was fulfilled at a small law firm in Grundy, VA.  The lawyer I worked with dealt primarily in business law, corporate law, and mining law.  My project during my externship was to compile a "compliance notebook" for anyone interested in starting a 501(c)(3) corporation (not-for-profit).  This was a great project for me because I plan to incorporate helping small businesses get started, while practicing transactional law.  I am really glad I had this experience to learn and to work with amazing people.

Joseph Rion Joseph Rion

My externship was with the Fayette County, Kentucky's Commonwealth Attorney's office. In addition to drafting legal research memos and shadowing the attorneys, we had a day in the field at least once per week.  During the course of the field experiences I was able to:  tour the local juvenile detention center; observe juvenile court proceedings that were closed to the public; watch the police bomb squad train; watch the police canine unit train; spend the day with a police detective; observe an autopsy by the medical examiner; attend a presentation by the police sexual assault nurse/evidence technician; ride  with a police patrol officer for an 8 hour shift; take a trip to the state crime lab to assist with interviewing a witness; spend 4 hours riding with the police helicopter patrol.  The experiences were both enjoyable and informative.

James PhamJames Pham

My externship at the Buchanan County Commonwealth's Attorney's Office gave me the opportunity to interact with season attorneys and judges.  I was lucky to have one of the Assistant Commonwealth Attorney's as a mentor.  He allowed me to shadow him and he taught me how to do research, write a response to a discovery motion and investigation.  Finally, he made the learning experience enjoyable.

Nicholas KalagianNicholas Kalagian

I did my externship at the Madison County Commonwealth Attorney's Office in Madison, VA. I had previously worked there during my undergraduate studies and was delighted to have the opportunity to go back and work there again. I was able to apply what I had learned in my first year of law school and aid the office further in its duties.

Tessa NealTessa Neal

Having an externship the summer after my first year of law school benefited me tremendously. Not only was I able to apply most of what I learned from my 1L year classes, but I was also learning new things. For example, I wrote an appeal to the Supreme Court of Virginia, even though I had not learned how to write appeals yet. My externship advisor guided me through this brief to where I finally felt confident to do most of the work on my own. Having externship experience is crucial because you are finally able to get your nose out of a case book and actually learn how to be a lawyer in the real world.