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Geneva Externship Information and Application Process

Michigan Law offers semester-long externship opportunities with leading intergovernmental and nongovernmental (NGO) institutions in Geneva during the winter term. Students are immersed in the work of these international institutions and closely supervised by their legal staffs to explore how international legal regimes intersect with such diverse fields as trade, human rights, intellectual property, environment, telecommunications, and health. Externs participate in a contemporaneous seminar intended to provide them substantive context for their externships by focusing on the roles and practices of international organizations and NGOs and the place of law in their work.


Externship programs are under the jurisdiction of the Curriculum Committee. Students are responsible for following the correct procedures for their externship application/proposal.

A student may not engage in both the externship or a study abroad program during his or her matriculation at the Law School.


The Geneva Externship awards 11 credits for the field placement work (pass/fail) and two credits (graded) for the related Seminar, for a total of 13 credits. In some cases, a student may write an academic research paper for an additional one or two credits. If you are interested in this option, please speak with Professor Anna Nicol.

Students who propose a final semester externship must also include in their application packet a completed Registrar_Checklist.pdf 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. In deciding whether to aprove an extership program, the members of the Committee may take into account the student's academic performance at the Law School.

Some placements have additional specific course prerequisites. The prior year's list is here. If you choose one of these organizations you must complete or enroll before the externship in all prerequisites before going to Geneva. Many prerequisites can be taken care of the fall before you go.

A student should be fully committed to completing an externship in Geneva before submitting an application; once a student has applied to and is accepted by one of the organizations, they will be expected to participate in the externship unless illness or other serious problem arises.

The Committee will more than likely not approve a proposal from a student who has two or more outstanding Incompletes on his or her transcript at the time the proposal is submitted. Students with two or more Incomplete grades who receive permission from the Committee to participate in the externship program will be required to resolve at least one of the Incompletes before the start of the externship term. Students are not permitted to engage in an externship with more than one Incomplete grade on their transcript at the time of their departure.


We have opened up the application process and the new deadline to submit a complete application package for a Winter 2019 Geneva Externship is Monday, February 26, 2018. It is the student's responsibility to make sure that all parts of the externship application package have been received by the deadline, which includes a letter of recommendation from a faculty member, so plan accordingly.

Tuition and Living Expenses

Students who pursue an externship in Geneva are known as Geneva International Fellows, each of whom receives a $3,000 fellowship to assist with Geneva-related expenses. Externs are also eligible for financial aid for the externship semester. Students registered for full time externships are charged the full rate of tuition.

Application Process

Each student must complete a Geneva Externship Application Package. A complete Package consists of both an online form and documents uploaded to the website. Students are encouraged to review the different placement site descriptions prior to applying to help guide their decision on preferred placements. The online externship application can be accessed here.

The electronic documents submitted by the student consist of an Essay of Interest, one Draft Cover Letter, described below, and the student's resume. The student's Faculty Letter of Recommendation should also be sent to Alicia Lixey at by the faculty member.

Once a student's application package is complete, they will be contacted to set up an application interview with Professor Amy Sankaran, who oversees all externships at Michigan Law, and Professor Anna Nicol, coordinator of the Geneva Externship Program.

Essay of Interest

The essay provides an opportunity for the student to persuade the Law School that the externship will enable the student to fulfill educational objectives that cannot be achieved through Law School classes or in the ordinary course of professional opportunities available to the student. It also provides a way for host sites to evaluate and distinguish student applications, as well as develop a sense of the student's background, interest areas, and expertise. Students are advised to highlight their particular strengths, relevant experiences, and practice area interests. Students should also include how the externship builds on work he or she has done, or how it will contribute to the student's educational pursuits. These essays will not be provided to the placements.

The Essay of Interest must be submitted as an e-mail attachment to Alicia Lixey at or attached to the online application to be included as part of the application package.

Draft Cover Letter

One cover letter must be provided for your top choice placement; you may address it to whom it may concern and leave the address blank. The letter should state the specific reasons why the student is interested in working at that particular site. The Preferred Placement Cover Letter must be submitted as e-mail attachments to Alicia Lixey ( to be included as part of the application package. We encourage you to review the placement site descriptions and In Your Own Words to help tailor your cover letter. We will work with you to revise your cover letter if you are selected for the Program to make it as tailored to your potential placement as possible.

Statement of Work Environment Preferences

To assist with the internal selection process, students must provide a short paragraph addressing personal preferences regarding office environment and culture. When completing this portion of the application, some questions to consider might include:

  • Do you work better in a large office with many colleagues or a smaller one?
  • Do you prefer to work on a single long-term project or many short-time items?
  • Do you require frequent feedback on your work from your supervisor?
  • What is more important to you, the subject of the work you do or the type of workplace?

Other Prerequisites or Preferences

Each agency engages in different types of work and looks for varying qualifications in the applicants. As you read the agency descriptions and their preferences, keep in mind that the desired qualifications are just that—preferences; they are not requirements.

Application Interview

Each applicant will be required to participate in an interview with Professors Sankaran and Nicol and will be contacted individually to schedule this interview.

Selection Process

Once all of the applications have been received and the interviews conducted, a committee of faculty and administrators will meet the candidates and make selections. These selections will be forwarded to the respective agencies (upon notification to the student and after a brief period of time to make cover letter changes if necessary).

Agency Confirmation
Once a candidate's name has been submitted to an agency for its consideration, the agency may require a brief interview. In addition, many agencies also require that a student submit a separate individual application through their own internal system.