Full-Time Placements—Three Unique Opportunities.

The Semester-in-Practice Program is our full-time, full-semester externship program. Placements may be local or outside of Boston. The program is open to 3Ls (fall and spring semesters) and 2Ls (spring semester only).

The Semester-in-Practice Program encompasses three options. Students earn 12 credits: 10 ungraded credits for working full-time at the field placement, plus 2 graded credits for completing readings, writing a research paper, and for submitting weekly journals. The field placement requirement is 65 days of full-time work.

• International Human Rights Externship

Students may spend a semester working for an international human rights organization, domestic or abroad.  Our most popular placement is with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (Geneva), although students have also worked at Reprieve (London) and the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (Berlin).  The program provides students with practical experience under the guidance of experienced international human rights attorneys and judges.  The educational objectives of this Externship are for students to develop their substantive and procedural knowledge of international treaties and norms governing human rights issues; develop the ability to interpret and apply treaties and norms in specific contexts; learn the day-to-day of international human rights practice in a range of United Nations, regional human rights mechanisms, and domestic jurisdictions; and develop problem-solving skills in human rights practice to successfully advocate for groups and individuals under international human rights norms.

• Government Lawyering Externship

Students spend a semester working at a government office in Washington, DC. Examples include opportunities with the staff of a congressional committee or subcommittee, in the legal office of an administrative agency, or with a federal board/commission.

• Independent Proposal Externship

Students may develop their own proposal for a full-time externship.

Planning Your Semester Away

The Semester-in-Practice consumes both non-GPA credits and independent study credits, nor do the credits count towards the 64 in-class credits minimum. When planning your semester, be sure to pay close attention to the JD Degree Requirements Planning Grid in the Course Selection Guide, to make sure you have satisfied all credit requirements. When in doubt, please consult the Academic Regulations, the Registrar’s Office, and Associate Dean Gerry Muir, to make sure your academic plan meets all requirements. Please be aware you may not take any other classes during your semester away. Therefore, if you are planning to do the SiP Program your spring 3L semester, you must have fulfilled the Professional Responsibility requirement first. Students may not take professional responsibility during their externship semester.

Suggested Prerequisites

Although there are no formal prerequisites for the Semester-in-Practice Program, we recommend you take the following courses to prepare for the Program and to strengthen your application. In addition, you should check with any organizations in which you may be interested to see if they recommend—or require—taking specific classes in preparation for an externship.

Human Rights Externship

  • International Human Rights Clinic.
  • A public international law course that includes the UN system/machinery. Depending on what classes are being offered each year, look for classes covering: international (public) law; international human rights law; international (public) law and process; international human rights systems; international law and the UN.
  • Knowledge of French is strongly preferred.
  • In addition, an ideal candidate will have spent their summer(s) working for an NGO or IGO dealing with human rights—e.g., International Bridges to Justice, Legal Aid of Cambodia, UNIAP, or one of the International Criminal Tribunals.

Government Lawyering in Washington, DC

  • Administrative Law.
  • American Legislative Practice (Clinic or Internship option).
  • Elective(s) focusing on the substantive law you will be engaged in. For example, a student wishing to work for the EPA should take Environmental Law.

Independent Proposal Externship

  • For litigation-based placements, Evidence.
  • Elective(s) focusing on the substantive law you will be engaged in.