Externships offer an exciting opportunity to augment classroom study with real-world work experience. Under the guidance of Michigan faculty and a field placement supervisor, students immerse themselves in legal work with local, state, and federal governmental agencies, and with nonprofit organizations throughout the country and world. Externships complete a student's personal study agenda, complementing coursework that often includes clinics. Externships enable students to pursue sophisticated work and research in a particular field beyond our curricular offerings.
Michigan Law offers five distinct externship programs:
Full-Time Externship Program: Students receive a full semester's worth of credits and can go anywhere in the United States or world while working at a nonprofit or government agency of their choice.
- Part-Time Externship Program: Students receive three to five credits and propose their own positions at local government, nonprofit, or judicial placements.
- Geneva Externship Program: Students receive a full semester's worth of credits while spending the winter term with leading intergovernmental and nongovernmental institutions selected by Michigan Law; students indicate their top placement choices on the application.
- India Externship Program: Students receive a full semester's worth of credits while spending the winter term in Bangalore, India, working at the Alternative Law Forum.
- South Africa Externship Program: Students receive a full semester's worth of credits while spending the winter term in a variety of cities throughout South Africa working for nongovernmental organizations selected by Michigan Law; students indicate their top placement choices on the application.
Externship interest meetings for the full-time and part-time programs are held near the beginning of each semester. An externship interest meeting for Geneva, India, and South Africa is held every January, with student panels scattered throughout the fall. Students interested in pursuing an externship are advised to attend one of these session or make an appointment to speak with either Professor Amy Sankaran (on all externships) or Dean Roopal Shah (on international externships) via Symplicity.
For the full-time and part-time programs, you do not need to have a placement secured to apply; in fact, you must apply by the deadline to be considered for the externship.
The deadline for the full-time program is approximately six weeks of the semester prior to the end of the semester before the student will go. The part-time program deadline is May 1 for the fall semester and December 1 for the winter semester. The deadline for Geneva, India, and South Africa typically falls on the Monday of winter break for a departure the following January.
An externship may not be undertaken with an organization engaged in providing legal services of any nature for profit. Full-time externships may not be with a court as a judicial clerkship; however, part-time externships with courts are permitted.
Special care must be taken in structuring a program with a legislative office to guard against diversion from legal education to political effort; staff positions with legislative committees are thus more likely to be approved than positions with individual legislators or elected officials. Special care must also be taken by a student proposing work for a small organization to ensure the organization has a sufficient agenda of worthwhile projects and is able to provide careful and adequate supervision.
The student may not accept payment from the externship placement for work done during the externship, except for reimbursement of reasonable out-of-pocket expenses related to the program.