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Judicial Externship Program

Registration Form

TO: Students Interested in the Judicial Extern Program

RE: Registration Information

  • REQUIREMENTSThe Judicial Extern Program requires you to work at least one hundred hours in your placement, at a rate not to exceed ten hours per week, and to attend weekly classroom sessions. Remember to sign up for both the one-credit Judicial Extern Class and the two-credit Judicial Extern Field Placement.
  • NATURE OF WORK: The work performed by a judicial extern is essentially the same as that performed by a law clerk to a judge. It usually involves preparing memoranda on cases, reviewing case files, drafting opinions and orders, and attending trials, hearings, and conferences. The precise tasks performed will depend upon the type of court and style of the judge. A statement of the educational objectives of the program is attached.
  • PLACEMENT: In assigning placements, we try to match the needs of the judge with the student's interests and capabilities. Some judges require an interview. Even if you have discussed a potential placement with the professor, you must submit the formal registration forms, a resume, and a transcript. You will not be considered for placement until your registration is complete. An individual interview may be required with the course instructor. Acceptance into the program is not guaranteed.
  • CREDIT: Academic credit is awarded only for fieldwork completed under the auspices of the Judicial Extern Program. Voluntary or compensated work will not qualify for credit. Field and course work must be completed concurrently. In very exceptional circumstances, fieldwork may be done before the classroom component if doing both at the same time would be impossible.
  • PREFERENCES: Please list at least three choices in order of interest. If you plan to drop the class if you do not get your first or second choice, please make only that many choices and clearly state at the bottom of the preference form that you will not accept any placement other than those indicated. Placements with the judge(s) you prefer cannot be guaranteed.
  •  TIMING: Placements are made as early as possible before the semester starts. Some judges require interviews, however, which can draw the placement process out to early in the semester. The professor will notify you by e-mail, if possible, of your placement.
  • GRADING:  At the end of the semester the professor assigns a standard letter grade for the classroom component. The field placement is “pass/fail;” the judge will evaluate your performance on a “High Pass / Pass / Low Pass / Fail” scale.
  • WITHDRAWING: If circumstances change after you have handed in your registration materials, please let us know as soon as possible. The assignment process becomes difficult if a student drops the course after a judge has been informed of an assignment. As a courtesy to the judges and your fellow students, please let the professor know as soon as you decide not to continue in the class, but no later than the limited enrollment drop-add date.
  • ENROLLMENT REQUIREMENTS: By enrolling in this course, you are agreeing to allow the course instructors to contact any of your professors to discuss your suitability for the program, and to the release of your transcript to the office of the judge to whom you are assigned.

Educational Objectives

This memorandum sets out the objectives of the Judicial Extern Program so that both students and judges can maximize its benefits.

1.         For the students.

The College of Law has established the Judicial Extern Program to provide educational opportunities to its students not available in other classroom or extracurricular activities. The primary objective of the Judicial Extern Program is skills training. Most judicial externs write several documents, including legal and factual memoranda, draft opinions, and orders.  This gives the students real life experiences that may affect the disposition of actual cases. For this reason, the accuracy and clarity of the writing is crucial. Other opportunities may include interacting with judges, court staff, and lawyers, as well as observing hearings, trials, and settlement conferences. 

            In addition, externs will have an inside view of the judicial process, learning not only how the courts function, but also what influences a judge to rule in a particular way. Few law school experiences can provide so many benefits directly related to the professional development of a prospective lawyer.  For those students interested in a judicial clerkship, an externship extern will give a taste of what a judicial clerk does to help the student decide whether to pursue a clerkship. Also, an externship provides the most relevant training for a clerkship. Finally, even for those who decide not to clerk, a judicial externship is a strong addition to a resume. 

            To maximize the educational value of a judicial externship, students must reflect on their experiences, asking after each task whether they fully understood it, used available resources, and completed it in a timely manner and to the satisfaction of the judge. Students should also reflect on how the task fit into the judicial process, the quality of the performance of the lawyers involved, and whether justice was served in the case.  The students should also consider the implications of the externship on their future professional activities. For these reasons, the judicial extern program incorporates a classroom component to give the students an opportunity to consider these questions in the context of their own experiences and those of other students.

2.         For the Judge.
Although the primary focus of the judicial Extern Program is the educational benefits to the students, the program has substantial benefits to the judges that accept judicial externs. The externs can help reduce the workload of the judge or judge's law clerk. It also gives judges exposure to bright and enthusiastic law students who bring with them the values and concerns of current law students.  Most judges greatly enjoy the educational and mentoring role that is inherent in the program. Judges sometimes use the extern program to locate a clerk.  The Judicial Extern Program offers experiential learning that comes under the broad heading of clinical legal education. Crucial to the success of the Judicial Extern Program are the assignment of meaningful tasks to the externs and supervision and the evaluation of the externs by the judges and their staffs. To a large degree, a judicial extern placement is valuable to the extent that the judge monitors the type of work that the extern is performing and comments on the extern's performance. Only in this way can the objectives of the judicial extern program be met.