Since its inception, Appalachian School of Law has distinguished itself from other law schools by providing our students with practical legal experience well before graduation. ASL’s Externship Program is a central part of the school’s commitment to equipping students with practical lawyering skills. All components of the Externship Program are designed to provide ASL students access to valuable, hands-on experience and networking opportunities that will aid in their future law careers. During the externship experience, students engage in activities ranging from observing court proceedings and conducting research to interviewing clients and assisting with trial strategy.
ASL students are required to complete an externship field placement during the summer following their 1L year. Three hours of academic credit are awarded for successful completion of this requirement, which includes a classroom component during the spring semester, followed by at least 200 hours working under the supervision of an experienced attorney during the summer. This experience allows our students to apply what they have learned in the classroom to real-world situations in public interest or pro bono legal environments. The externship placements have the added advantage of fulfilling bar admission requirements such as the State of New York’s prerequisite that those seeking admission to the bar complete 50 hours of pro bono work before the bar examination. Students have the option of securing their own externship site, or selecting a site from ASL’s large database of externship opportunities. ASL’s database includes hundreds of approved site partners across the country.
ASL also created in conjunction with our local bar association an on-campus legal client clinics for students seeking to further enhance their experiential learning opportunities. In the clinic setting, students have the opportunity to participate in activities related to law office management. Students have the initial contact with individuals seeking legal assistance. Students complete the intake for the individuals and then observe and participate in meetings with licensed attorneys to address the legal needs of the individuals. The clinic is student-driven but is facilitated by our Clinic Director, a member ASL’s faculty, who works in partnership with other ASL faculty members and pro bono attorneys at the clinic, all of whom instruct and mentor the students in relevant areas of the law.
What is the ASL Externship Program?
At the Appalachian School of Law (ASL), one of our primary goals is to give our students an exceptional education that prepares them to graduate law school with the advantage that only experience can bring. That is why, in addition to surrounding students with a full-time, tenure-track faculty who collectively practiced in various areas of the law for more than 300 years, we have designed a summer externship program that places our students immediately after their first year of school in courthouses, law offices and boardrooms around the country and abroad for 200 hours of personalized, hands-on, intense legal training.
At ASL, we feel it is crucial for law students to be exposed to the sort of practical legal education an externship can provide. That is why we work very hard to ensure that each student is placed in an externship after their first year of law school that corresponds to the student's interests or opens doors to other future endeavors.
What types of work can a student anticipate during his or her externship?
Although students' experiences differ based on various factors, most students are able to do obtain an intimate glimpse of an attorney's daily routine representing private clients and/or public interests. Irrespective of the actual site where a student may be placed, the goals of the Externship Program are:
- To provide exposure to the actual workings of the legal system under the guidance of an experienced attorney in the public service.
- To provide at least one substantial research and writing opportunity in an actual case setting.
- To introduce students to the ethical concerns and issues of professionalism that may arise in actual case settings, under the guidance of an experienced attorney in the public service.
- To provide opportunities for enhancing professional communication skills.
How many credits do externships provide?
First-year students receive 3 credits for their Externship; second-year students receive 1 credit for their internships at premier sites, along with the possibility of being awarded a stipend for living and travel expenses; and third-year students receive 1 credit for working at live client clinics during the student's final year of school.
How many externships can I take?
Future employers can rest assured that ASL graduates are knowledgeable about more than what the textbook "says." All of our first-year students must complete an externship the summer after their first year of school.
The next opportunity students have to participate in the externship program is during the students' second-year of law school. The second-year internship program allows competitive placement of 20-30 second-year law students in "premier" sites that specifically focus in the areas of natural resources and/or environmental law, the judiciary, and administrative law. The sites must still focus on public interest or pro bono matters. This component of the program has resulted in a course that is similar to the traditional, first-year externship program in terms of the experiential learning format.
Third-year students may also register for seminars or practica and take one live client clinic per semester. The live clinic prong of the expanded externship program is essentially a joint venture between the law school and outside law offices, corporations, legal aid sites, natural resources sites, mediation sites, and the judiciary (collectively the "Live Clinics"). The ultimate goal is to create a diverse list of Live Client Clinics.
What externship opportunities are available?
ASL has cultivated a teaching partnership with more than 500 sites in 40 states and in international venues. Thus, a myriad of site placements are available to our students, including Judicial; Natural Resources and Environmental Law Practices; District and Commonwealth Attorneys' Offices; Public Defenders; Legal Aid; State Attorney Generals; non-governmental organizations; Federal Attorney Generals; State and Federal Agencies; State Family/Juvenile Law Courts & Agencies; Law Firms with established pro bono programs; State and Federal Legislatures; In-House Academic and Medical Departments; and the Judge Advocate Corp. For a list of approved sites by category or states CLICK HERE
How many hours are required to receive credit for the externship course?
Each first-year law student must complete 200 hours of work under the direct supervision of a licensed attorney, after the student has attended 16 hours of classroom instruction in conjunction with the externship. Second-year law students must also complete 200 hours of work for the competitive, internship program, with only an eight hour class commitment. In addition to the hours needed to complete the corresponding practicum or seminar, third-year law students represent actual clients at the live client clinic for 10-12 hours per week.
Is there a pro bono requirement with an externship?
No. To ensure compliance with American Bar Association Standards and U.S. Department of Labor regulations, ASL focuses student placements at sites that concentrate in the areas of public interest law or pro bono service. Therefore, a student is not required to complete any pro bono work through the externship program, although hours spent providing pro bono services may count toward state admission requirements. As a reflection of ASL's mission statement, our students are required to complete 25 hours of community service each semester. While students may structure their community service commitment to meet their own schedules, ASL does schedule one afternoon a week for students and faculty to engage in community service activities.
Can I be paid for my work during my externship?
As dictated by the ABA Standards, students may NOT be paid by the site. However, students may be reimbursed for out-of-pocket expenses such as travel to work and basic living expenses.
How are students assigned to sites?
All first-year law students select sites from an approved list secured by ASL's Externship Director. Second-year students are required to complete an application process for the competitive placement. Third-year students are assigned to live client clinics that practice in areas that correspond to practicums or seminars in which the student is enrolled.
Are students permitted to contact a potential site directly for placement?
Although most site placements are essentially preapproved by the Externship Director, students may contact a site in which he or she is interested, and then complete a petition for approval of the attended site by the Externship Director.
Are sites responsible for any costs?
There is no cost for the site. Students are responsible for all expenses such as lodging, meals, transportation, etc., unless the student receives a stipend for traveling or living expenses from the site or ASL.
Who should I contact for additional information about the program?
If you have questions about the program or need additional information, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Are there any form documents available for my review?
Yes, just follow this link for useful forms.