Student Eligibility

Who is eligible to apply for an Externship?

Part-Time Externships

Students who have completed their first year of law school are eligible to enroll in a part-time externship for two (2), three (3), four (4), five (5), or six (6) credits. The externship and required seminar run throughout the semester, beginning in the first week of classes and ending the last day of scheduled classes.

Full-Time Externships

Students who have completed 60 credit hours and are in the top 50% of their class are eligible to apply for a full-time externship with federal district court and federal and state appellate court judges in Western Washington or Alaska, or the Washington State Governor’s Office. Many judges and justices do prefer the top 25%, however. A waiver process is available for students who are not in the top 50%. Students are also eligible to apply for other “approved” full-time externships offered through the Externship Program.  The externship and required seminar run throughout the semester, beginning in the first week of classes and ending during the last week of exams.

Type of ExternshipNumber of CreditsClass Rank
Full-Time 60 Top 50% (Many sites require top 25%; some, top 10%; some, individual screening.)
Part-Time (2, 3, 4, 5, or 6 Credits) Must complete first year All Students Eligible

Rule 9 Information

Several Externship Sponsors require (or prefer) that Student Externs be Rule 9 qualified. This qualification allows a student to practice law under the supervision of an attorney. You can pick up Rule 9 application information from the Registrar's Office. The site supervisor must sign your application, not the Director of the Externship Program. Note: The Washington State Bar Association does not waive Rule 9 application fees for externships. Externs, not sponsoring agencies, are responsible for paying any Rule 9 fees.

Do I have to accept the first offer I am made?

Yes. Because we have so many applications pending at once, and to give your colleagues a shot at the maximum number of externship opportunities, we ask you to take the first offer you are made. All of our sites have been vetted and are high quality, so you can't go wrong. Sites also spend a considerable amount of time reviewing applications and expect that you are serious about working with them when submitting an application.

The Sponsor has complete discretion in choosing its Externs. That said, we always have more Sponsors than we have students applying, so don't talk yourself out of it. Your chances are quite good!

How many credits can I get for an Externship?

For a Part Time Externship you can receive between 2-6 credits, which includes a 1 credit seminar.

For a Full Time Externship you may take 15 credits, which includes a 3 credit seminar (8 credits, including 2 for the seminar, if Summer semester).

How many Externships can I do?

If you are in the top half of the class, you are eligible to use up to 21 credits for a combination of clinics and externships. Those who are in the bottom half are eligible for 15 credits. Please contact the Externship Program if you are not in the top 50% but would like find out more about what you need to do to take a full-time externship or use more than 15 credits.  Students may NOT do Externships and Clinics at the same time.

Just as you cannot take the same class twice, you cannot do two Externships of similar substance. For example, if you have done one judicial Externship at a trial court and you’d like to do another judicial Externship, your second one must be with an appellate court. Similarly, if you do one Externship with the misdemeanor division of a county prosecutor’s office, you could not do a second Externship with the misdemeanor division of a different county prosecutor. These experiences are too similar in substance. If you have questions about whether your proposed Externships satisfy this requirement, please contact the Externship Program.

How many hours do I have to work each week on site?

During Fall and Spring semesters,  (2 credits = 7 hours/week; 3 credits = 11 hrs/wk; 4 credits = 15 hrs/wk; 5 credits = 19 hrs/wk; 6 credits = 23 hrs/wk; 15 credits = 39hrs/wk).

During the shorter Summer semester, (2 credits = 9 hours/week; 3 credits = 14hrs/wk; 4 credits = 19 hrs/wk; 5 credits = 24 hrs/wk; 6 credits = 29 hrs/wk). Please note that for Full-Time Externships during the Summer you must work 39 hrs/wk and will receive 8 credits.

Note: During holiday weeks, externs do not have to make up the hours missed at their site. Please also remember that excusable holidays are determined by the sponsoring agency, not by Seattle University.

Note: You may not front-load your hours. For example, you may not work all of your required externship hours during the first six weeks of the semester and take the rest of the time off. Part-time externs must work through the last day of classes. Full-time externs must work through the last day of final exams for the semester.

Can I get paid for Externship work?

No. ABA accreditation rules do not allow compensation for Externship work.

What are the program’s objectives?

  • To select sites in courts, government agencies, and non-governmental legal organizations that will provide excellent experiential learning experiences for the externs and will promote social justice concepts;
  • To select supervisors at those sites who have a passion for their work, have a desire to mentor students, have the ability to teach students, and have at least three years of practice experience;
  • To work with the site supervisors to ensure structured work assignments for the students at sites, good supervision on a regular basis, an adequate place for the students to work, and a generally positive working environment that fosters professionalism;
  • To increase the externs’ ability to take control of their own learning by assessing their skills in a range of areas, by targeting certain skills for improvement, and by working with both the site supervisor and faculty supervisor to enhance learning and to measure progress;
  • To provide additional experiences, away from an extern’s individual site, that will ease the transition to practice and foster professionalism;
  • To provide structured opportunities for the externs to reflect on their experiences and;
  • To increase the externs’ competence and confidence in their ability to practice law.

How does the program achieve the goals and objectives?

Placement at Externship Sites: Students apply to approved externship sites that are found in the Externship Sponsors Database.

Seminars: Students, whether enrolled in full-time or part-time externships, must take a concurrent seminar. The seminar courses include additional practical experiences such as presentations by court officials followed by tours of court facilities; presentations by faculty and site supervisors on various practice-related topics; and multimedia presentations by students. Students are usually assigned short readings appropriate for the sessions. Students will assess their skills in a number of areas and then measure their progress in improving their abilities throughout the semester.

Journaling: Students must submit a journal entry once every two weeks. Topics are required or suggested each week, but students may always write about topics that interest them. The journaling requirement is a means of fostering reflection.

How are Externships graded?

For Part Time Externships: one credit of the total Externship credits is graded with a letter grade, which is based on participation in the Externship Seminar, factoring in the site supervisor’s evaluation of the student’s work product, work ethic, and general professionalism. The remaining credits are graded Pass/Fail and based on successful completion of work for the Externship Sponsor.

For Full Time Externships: Three of the total Externship credits are graded with a letter grade, which is based on participation in the Externship Seminar, factoring in the site supervisor’s evaluation of the student’s work product, work ethic, and general professionalism. The remaining credits are graded Pass/Fail and based on successful completion of work for the Externship Sponsor. In the Summer, two of the eight credits are graded with a letter grade, and the remaining six credits are graded Pass/Fail and based on successful completion of work for the Externship Sponsor.

What are the Externship Seminars and when are they scheduled?

The Externship Seminars include: Criminal Law, Civil Law, In-house/Government, and Judicial. During your Externship semester, you must attend the seminar that matches up with the area in which you are working. Seminars meet during the week in the late afternoon or early evening and meet about ten out of the 14 weeks in Fall and Spring semesters and weekly during the Summer semester. If you have a class conflict with the seminar, you must deal with it as you would another class conflict.

Class times for the Legislative Seminar and International Seminar will be determined based on the availability of the professor and student.  The Legislative Seminar is only offered during spring semester. 

Does the time in the seminar count towards my required on-site Externship hours per week?

On those weeks that you attend your externship seminar, it is already deducted from the total hour requirements.

Where can I do an Externship?

Only public agencies and entities, public or private non-profit organizations, or the courts (at the level of superior court judge or above) may be certified as Externship Sponsors. The only exception to this rule involves the pilot Intellectual Property Externship program, which utilizes established partnerships with in-house legal counsel at several private corporations.

Where do I find a list of Externship Sponsors?

All approved Sponsoring Agencies are listed online. You may search by either the location of the externship or by the type of externship you are interested in. The Handbook is issued once a year, so the website will have the most up-to-date Sponsor listings. In addition to the site profiles, students have provided testimonials regarding their experiences at the various externship sites.

Can I do an Externship at a place that is not listed on the Externship Programs homepage (i.e. not an approved site)?

Generally, no. Students must apply for Externships at the sites that have already been developed and approved by the law school. Only in exceptional circumstances will a new Externship site be approved. Criteria considered for such approval include:

  • Whether there are already existing Externship opportunities of comparable substance and experience;
  • Whether the proposed Externship site is appropriate for on-going Externship placements or is a project-specific or otherwise finite placement;
  • Whether the student has provided the Externship Staff with sufficient lead time to fully review and investigate the proposal. Generally, this review will include: consultation with the proposed supervising attorney, a visit to the site, assessment of the substance of the proposed work, and a written agreement with the supervising attorney regarding expectations and requirements for on-site supervision and mentoring.

Students who are interested in participating in an externship at a site that is not currently listed in the Externship Sponsors Database must contact Externship Program staff within two weeks from the beginning of the semester prior to the externship in order to allow sufficient time to determine whether this site can be approved for externship credits.

What if I want to do an Externship somewhere outside of the Puget Sound region?

Proposals for out-of-area Externships will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. In general, out-of-area proposals will be approved only if they fulfill ABA accreditation standards and offer a unique learning experience that cannot be obtained within the Puget Sound region. The Externship Director must approve any proposal for an out-of-area Externship. With that said, we currently have many approved national and international sites where you could pursue an externship. If you wish to propose a new site, please contact the Externship Director at least six months before your intended Externship semester. In terms of planning for an out-of-area Externship, there is no such thing as starting too early.

I've been working/volunteering at this great legal agency and would love to make it into an Externship. Can I do that?

No. Faculty policies do not allow students to do Externships at places where they have previously worked or volunteered. The only exception would be if the proposed Externship involved doing substantially different work (e.g. with the same agency but in an entirely different division). The Externship Director must approve any such exception.

Can I do an Externship at a private law firm? Even if it is pro bono work?

No, students may not do Externships at private law firms. Additionally, students may not work at a firm while doing a Judicial Externship.

Where can I do a Full Time Externship?

Only at the following:

  • Federal District Courts and Federal and State Appellate Courts in the Puget Sound region and Alaska
  • Tribal Courts
  • The Washington State Governor’s General Counsel
  • The Securities Exchange Commission or the Environmental Protection Agency in Washington, D.C.
  • The International Court of Trade, in New York City
  • Justice Moreno of the California Supreme Court, and the Staff Attorneys of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco
  • The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, the Permanent Court of Arbitration, or the International Criminal Court in The Hague
  • The World Trade Organization
  • The World Intellectual Property Organization, the International Trade Center, the International Labor Organization, or the Center for International Environmental Law in Geneva

If you want to do a full-time externship at a site that is not listed here, please contact the Externship Director for approval. 

Can I take additional clinical credits if I do a full time Judicial Externship?

Students may not take more than 15 credits of clinics and externships combined. Students may now participate in a full-time (39 hours per week) externship for 11, 12, or 15 credits. Students may not do an Externship and a Clinic at the same time.

What if I have additional questions not answered on the Web site?

If you have any questions not answered or addressed on the externship website, please refer to the Seattle University School of Law Student Handbook or talk with the Externship Office for additional information or clarification.

Can I still do an Externship even if I've missed the Externship Registration deadline?

Students may continue to submit applications using the procedure above up until one month prior to the beginning of classes of each new semester. The Externship Office will immediately forward the application to any sponsor who has not already received applications following the deadline. Students applying after the deadlines above should contact Ryan Chindavong in the School of Law to determine which sites are still accepting applications. However, you should be aware that your chances for obtaining an Externship decrease significantly when you apply after the sponsor’s deadline.