Externship Programs


If you are a BU Law student interested in a externship, please contact Externship Director Kate Devlin Joyce (kdevlin@bu.edu) or Corporate Counsel Externship Director Cecily Banks (cbanks@bu.edu). We will work with you to find an externship placement!  Please see the How to Apply page for more information about the Fall 2024/Spring 2025 Externship Program.

Through an externship, students work in the field at a legal office, handling real legal work under the supervision of an attorney mentor. Boston’s vibrant legal community offers a vast array of placements in countless practice areas. Students have recently worked at organizations that handle affordable housing, education, microfinance, IP, health law, biotech, and environmental law, to name a few.

Students may work with one of BU Law’s many partnering organizations, or students are welcome to cultivate a new placement. Placements may be at a nonprofit, with a government agency or state legislator, with a judge, in a corporate legal department, at a small/mid-size law firm, or at a large law firm (placements at large law firms are only allowed under certain circumstances and require prior approval from the Externship Director). All work must be performed under the direct supervision of an attorney. Placements may be paid or unpaid.

Each student’s field experience is supported by a required seminar. An externship therefore consists of a pair of courses: the fieldwork (P/F) and the academic component (graded). Please see below for more information about credits and the seminar options.

Please note that students may not participate in both a clinic and an externship during the same semester.

The educational objectives of the program are to help students develop their legal skills and substantive knowledge of the law; develop the ability to solve legal problems in real-life situations; learn the day-to-day of legal practice, generally and at the specific placement; and learn to engage in reflective practice, so they can improve for the future.

Fieldwork Credit Information

The fieldwork component of an externship is the time spent at the legal organization itself. The fieldwork begins the first week of classes and students commit to working until the last week of classes. Students may not count hours spent at the placement before the semester begins. Students receive variable credits (P/F), determined as follows:

  • 3 credits = 127.5 hours total
  • 4 credits = 170 hours total
  • 5 credits = 212.5 hours total
  • 6 credits = 255 hours total
  • 7 credits = 297.5 hours total
  • 8 credits = 340 hours total
  • 9 credits = 382.5 hours total
  • 10 credits = 425 hours total

Students select their fieldwork credits based on their overall class schedule, and in consultation with their fieldwork supervisors. Some placements require students to work a minimum number of hours per week, such as 16 or 20.

Please note that the fieldwork component of the externship counts towards the 17-credit cap on non-GPA credits.

Seminar Offerings

Each of our seminar offerings is designed to complement and support each student’s field experience. Each student must register for the fieldwork component corresponding to their selected seminar.

Criminal Justice Externship (Offered fall, 3 cr.) — Focuses on critical analysis of selected issues in the practice of American criminal justice. Placements are at crime-related positions, such as a district attorney’s office, a public defender, police departments, or the Office of the Attorney General.


Corporate Counsel Externship (Offered fall and spring, 2 cr.) – Dedicated to exposing students to the role and work of in-house counsel for for-profit and nonprofit corporations in an array of global industries, as well as the business and lawyering skills essential to representing the internal corporate client.  The seminar covers the modern role of in-house counsel; becoming a trusted advisor to the client; learning business; communicating effectively in a business setting; collaborating with a legal team; and solving problems to advance the client’s strategic objectives. This seminar is required for students externing at corporate counsel placements for the first time.

For all information about the Corporate Counsel Externship Program, logistics for participation each semester, and the dedicated program webpage (with lists of partnering companies and active placements), please email Cecily Banks at cbanks@bu.edu for more information.


Health Law Externship (Offered fall and spring, 1 cr.) – The one-hour weekly seminar examines various health law issues as well as the challenges of working in a health care environment. The seminar requires students to write a paper and make a class presentation. In addition, each student submits reflective memoranda chronicling their educational experience and reactions to the practice of law observed at the field placements.

Health Law Externship Information

Spring 2024 Health Law Placement Opportunities


Independent Proposal Externship (Offered fall and spring, 2 cr.) – Under this option, in lieu of a seminar, students write a 15–20 page paper and submit seven bi-weekly journals (4–6 pages each), under the guidance of a faculty supervisor. The 2 credits count towards the 3-credit cap on independent study credits as well as the 17-credit cap on non-GPA credits. Students must receive permission from the externship program office.  Please contact Kate Devlin Joyce: 617-358-6895 or kdevlin@bu.edu.


Judicial Externship (Offered fall and spring, 1 cr.) – Students immerse themselves in a research- and writing-intensive experience working for a judge. Placements are at a range of courts: trial and appellate, state and federal, and at specialty courts such as Probate & Family Court. The seminar explores topics related to the judiciary, such as judicial ethics, judicial decision-making, specialty courts, and ADR. This seminar is recommended for students working for a judge for the first time.


Learning From Practice Externship (Offered fall and spring, 1 cr.) – For students working at all types of placements. The weekly seminar explores the ways in which lawyers (and externs) learn from practice and develop skills on the job.  This seminar is a good option for students who are on their second externship or have participated in a clinic.


Legal Externship Program: Legal Ethics (Offered fall, 3 cr.) – Students examine legal practice and the ethics of lawyering, including conflicts of interest, competency, confidentiality, pro bono obligations, special ethical obligations of government and in-house attorneys, and ethical billing. The seminar requires students to write a final paper and make a class presentation based on the paper. In addition, each student keeps a reflective journal chronicling their educational experience and reactions to the practice of law observed at the field placement.


Legislative Externship (Offered fall on alternate years, and every spring, 3 cr.) – Students learn about the lawmaking process on Beacon Hill by working  for a Massachusetts state legislator. Students may draft legislation, evaluate testimony, attend meetings with legislators and staff, observe legislative strategy sessions and negotiations, attend floor debates and committee meetings, and research questions of law and faculty for proposed legislation. Students can work on general issues or focus in the following areas: Environmental Law, Health Law, and Tax & Business. This seminar is required for students externing at legislative placements for the first time.


Semester-in-Practice Externship (Offered fall and spring, 10 cr.)

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 a wide range of placement options and two seminar options. Students earn 12 credits: 10 ungraded credits for working full-time at the field placement, plus 2 graded credits for the seminar, which can be taken on campus (for students working in Boston) or remotely (for students working anywhere else). The field placement requirement is 65 days of full-time work.  Please contact Kate Devlin Joyce: 617-358-6895 or kdevlin@bu.edu.


New York Pro Bono Scholars Semester-in-Practice Program (Offered spring, 12 cr.)

Through the New York Pro Bono Scholars Program, students spend their spring 3L semester working full-time and for credit, on behalf of indigent clients, through an externship with a host organization or through a BU Law clinic. Students take the February New York bar exam, begin their fieldwork immediately after, and work for 12 weeks into mid/late-May.

The program enables students to enter practice early.  Students passing the bar exam, completing other NY bar requirements, and satisfying BU’s graduation requirements are admitted to the New York bar in late June.


State and Local Tax Externship (Offered fall, 2 cr.) – This course is for students who are placed with the Massachusetts Department of Revenue and focuses on topics that are relevant to state and local tax law practice. This seminar is required for students externing at the Massachusetts Department of Revenue. 

How to Apply

Each fall and spring, the Externship Program solicits applications from students for participation the following semester.  Please see How to Apply page for more information about Fall 2024/Spring 2025 Externship Opportunities.

Requests for a second semester/second experience (this includes a summer internship to fall externship) at the same field placement are only approved in exceptional circumstances. The Externship Program encourages students to consider different legal externships to broaden their legal skills, problem solving abilities, and legal networks.  For second semester/second experience requests, please email lclinic2@bu.edu.

Spring 2024 Externship Memorandum of Understanding: MOU

Contact Us

We are here for you all year round, without regard to externship application deadlines and priority time lines.

General questions; government, non-profit and judicial externships; law firm externships; summer externships; Semester-in-Practice: Kate Devlin Joyce; Director, Externship Program

Corporate counsel externships: Cecily Banks; Director, Corporate Counsel Externships (All Corporate Counsel info in link under Placement Search Resources)

Legislative externships: Sean Kealy; Clinical Associate Professor

Health law externships: Dianne McCarthy; Lecturer

For International Students

For International Students: Students who are working in the United States over the summer or during the semester, for whom the US is not their country of origin, may receive academic credit for taking a .5 credit seminar, Comparative Legal Practicum (JD 943).  To enroll in the seminar, students must secure a summer legal internship.  The course meets virtually and in addition to the internship, requires students to write several short memoranda.  Students must obtain Curricular Practical Training (CPT), from the ISSO.  If you are interested, please contact Kate Devlin Joyce at kdevlin@bu.edu and your ISSO counselor.

For more information, click here.