Academic Programs

Frequently Asked Questions

What is an externship program?

Through an externship program, students receive credit for working at a legal office during the semester. Placements may be with a government or public interest organization, or at an in-house counsel placement. Placements may be with a law firm, but only if the student works exclusively on pro bono projects.

In addition to the fieldwork, students also take a seminar specifically designed to complement the fieldwork experience.

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What is the difference between an externship and a clinic?

Students in both externships and clinics get to perform work typically handled by attorneys, thereby being exposed to the realities of law practice. The difference between the programs relates to how students are supervised. Students doing an externship are supervised by attorneys who work at the placement organization. In contrast, students taking a clinic are supervised by one of our clinical faculty members.

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What is the difference between the different externship programs?

The Legal Externship Program (LEP) is our general externship program. The seminar component discusses professional responsibility issues that apply to attorneys in all practice settings. This means that no matter the subject matter of your externship, the LEP will be a good fit for you.

Each of our other externship programs is subject-matter focused. The Health Law Externship Program, for example, covers topics in health law lawyering. The Government Lawyering Externship Program addresses unique issues that arise for lawyers working in the government. The Judicial Externship Program focuses on many aspects of the judiciary.

The Semester-in-Practice Program is a full-time program for externships out of Boston. Please refer to the SiP Program web pages for more information about this program.

Some externship opportunities lend themselves to participation in both the LEP and a specialized externship program. For example, if you desire a government placement you could participate in either the LEP or the Government Lawyering Program. It all depends on what seminar experience you want and other logistics such as whether one class fits into your schedule better than the other.

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What is the time commitment of the externships and how many credits will I receive?

The fieldwork component of the externship is a variable credit program. For most programs, students receive 3, 4, or 5 non-graded credits for working 150, 200, or 250 hours over the semester, respectively. With permission of the Office of Clinical Programs, students may receive 6-9 credits (300-450 hours). Student in Community Courts receive 2 fiedlwork credits (100 hours). Please see the individual program websites for the specific credit information.

The seminar component of the externship is worth 3 graded credits (Legal Externship Program), 2 graded credits (Government Lawyering Externship Program, Judicial Externship Program), or 1 graded credit ( Health Law Externship Program).

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I am aware that students may receive a maximum of 16 non-GPA credits. How does this affect my taking an externship?

The fieldwork portion of the externships (3-5 credits) counts towards the non-GPA credit maximum. If you think doing an externship will bring you to the limit, please come speak with the Office of Clinical Programs so we can advise you regarding your class schedule.

In addition, please check the rules of the state where you are intending to take the bar. New York, for example, has a 20 credit cap on number of credits that may be awarded for clinical courses or other legal training.

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Do any of the externship programs satisfy the Professional Responsibility Requirement?

The seminar component of the Legal Externship Program satisfies the Professional Responsibility requirement. The other externship programs do not.

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Do any of the externship programs count towards a concentration?

Yes. A litigation-based placement in any of the programs counts toward the Concentration in Litigation and Dispute Resolution. The Health Law Externship Program counts toward the Concentration in Health Law.

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Are there any prerequisites?

Students taking the Health Law Externship Program must have already completed the health law course at either BU Law or the School of Public Health.

There are no prerequisites for any of the other programs, although we highly recommend evidence for any litigation-based placement. We also recommend you take any substantive law class related to your externship. For example, for a criminal placement, you should have taken criminal procedure. Or if you want to work at an environmental placement, you should take an environmental law class.

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How do I apply for an externship program?

You can apply for the Legal Externship Program, Health Law Externship Program, Government Lawyering Externship Program, Affordable Housing Externship Program and Community Courts using the general clinical application form. The application becomes available at the beginning of April following the Clinical Programs Open House. Applications are due at the end of April for both fall and spring participation the following academic year.

There is a separate application for the Judicial Externship Program. For deadlines and procedures, please click here.

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Do I need a placement lined up before I can apply to a program?

No. Once you are accepted into a program, you will then find a placement. The Office of Clinical Programs has valuable resources to help you select what organizations to apply to. We are also happy to meet with you to discuss your interests and what organizations might be a good fit.

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How do I find out more about the externship programs?

The Clinical Programs Open House is a great way to learn more about the programs. The Open House takes place at the beginning of April every year. During the rest of the year, please feel free to send your questions to the Office of Clinical Programs or visit us on the 12th floor. Here is the contact information for the programs:

Program Contact E-mail Office Phone
General Externship Program Questions Adrienne Smith 1220A 358-6265
Government Lawyering Externship Program Jennifer Serafyn    
Health Law Externship Program Ben Moulton    
Legal Externship Program Adrienne Smith 1220A 358-6265
Judicial Externship Program Adrienne Smith 1220A 358-6265
Affordable Housing Externship Program Peter Freeman    
Community Courts David Rossman 1120D 353-3131
Semester-in-Practice Program Adrienne Smith 1220A 358-6265


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