Frequently Asked Questions

What are externships?

An Externship is a course for credit in which students are placed off campus with a supervising attorney or judge. Externs are also registered in one of seven corresponding seminars taught by Seattle University Faculty. These seminars give you background for the position, teach you skills and values, and help you set goals for each semester. An externship is different from a clinic (a course in which students work on campus in teams to represent clients in a practice area directly supervised by law school faculty), in that work for an externship takes place outside the law school and the seminar professor does not directly supervise your work.

Who is eligible to apply for an externship? Everyone!

  • First year students – You can earn part-time credit (2-6 credits) for externships starting in the summer after your first year. (You are free to volunteer additional time, and most students will try to work full-time in summer if they are free.)
  • Second year students – You can earn part-time credit (ranging from 2-11 credits) for externships in fall or spring of your second year. You can also still volunteer additional time.
  • Third and fourth year students – You can earn credit for part-time or full-time externships. Beginning in the summer after your 2L year, you can earn full-time credit (7-8 credits in summer and 12-15 credits in fall or spring) if you have earned 60 credits by the time the externship begins are in the top half of the class. If you are not in the top half of the class, you will also need to have a Bar Success Plan from the Academic Resource Center approved by the Associate Dean for Students Affairs.
  • Part-time or Evening students – You can earn credit for part-time externships starting the summer after your first year and full-time credit as described above. Most externships will take part-time students and you should check with the Externship Director if there is a full-time externship you would like to do part-time.
  • LLM and MLS students – You can earn credit in part-time externships and should check with the Externship Program Faculty to see if full-time externships may be available on a part-time basis. You are required to attend the intensive orientation scheduled at the beginning of the semester but not the weekly seminar. You must complete skills and values assessments, evaluations, time sheets and written reflections to earn credit.

When should I start applying to externships? Is there a deadline?

It is best to apply for externships about 3 to 5 months before the start of the semester. Here are a few things to be aware of.

  • To apply you must email a completed Externship Application Form to the Externship Program Office and send cover letters for your three top sites.
  • Most sites do not have a deadline but fill their positions on a rolling basis. Some have lengthy background checks that can take 4 to 5 months.
  • A few sites have deadlines and won’t accept applications after that point. If the sites have told us about these deadlines, we will include them in our Externship Clinic Newsletter.
  • Each seminar has a cap and seminars often fill up well before the start of the semester. Once the seminar is filled, you won’t be able to earn credit, even if you found the site on your own,
  • It generally takes 2-4 weeks to get through the whole process – this includes sending a resume and cover letter, scheduling an interview, receiving an offer, and asking the externship program to register you for the seminar. Because of this time frame, we don’t usually take applications in the last month before the semester starts.
  • There are always more externships looking for students than students looking for externships, so if you start early and keep applying to sites, you are guaranteed to find a position!

Rule 9 Information

Some Externship Sites require (or prefer) that Student Externs be Rule 9 qualified. This qualification allows a student to practice law under the supervision of an attorney. To qualify as a Rule 9, you need to have earned 60 (57 if a part-time student) of your 90 credits toward graduation. The site supervisor must sign your application, not the Director of the Externship Program. For instructions on how to apply, visit the WSBA website. 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.

How do I know which seminar corresponds to which site?

There are seven seminars and you cannot enroll in the same seminar twice. They are organized as follows:

  • Criminal Seminar – Prosecuting Attorney's Offices and Public Defenders
  • Civil Seminar – Legal Services Organizations and other Non-profits
  • Government SeminarSummer only, Governmental Agencies *
  • In-House Counsel Seminar Summer only, In-House Counsel's Offices *
  • Judicial Seminar – Courts and Administrative Tribunals
  • International Seminar – International Organizations and Tribunals.
  • Legislative Seminar – Legislative and Lobbying Organizations

*NOTE: In-House Counsel and Government Attorney Seminars are combined in spring and fall. To do both kinds of externships you must do at least one in the summer.

How often do the seminars meet?

The externship seminar schedule is on the chart below. There is a mandatory intensive at the beginning of the semester, and you must attend to earn credit. The intensive is interactive and cannot be made up later. Some of the class time is front-loaded in the intensive, so the seminars skip classes in the middle of the semester in the fall and spring or alternate weeks throughout the summer.

Seminars
Judicial SeminarSpring Legislative Seminars
One Day Intensive first Friday* of the Semester, then
Mondays
6:00 – 7:15pm (Fall/Spring), 6:00 – 7:30pm (Summer)
One day Intensive before Semester, 2nd Intensive first Friday of the semester, then TBD
Some Classes Held in Olympia.
Civil SeminarInternational Seminar
One Day Intensive first Friday* of the Semester, then
Thursdays
4:00 – 5:15pm (Fall/Spring), 4:00 – 5:30pm (Summer)
One day Intensive before Semester, then biweekly on Wednesdays, 11:00 am to 12:30 pm PST
Criminal SeminarIn-House/Government Atty. Seminar +
One Day Intensive first Friday* of the Semester, then
Tuesdays
4:00 – 5:15pm (Fall/Spring), 4:00 – 5:30pm (Summer)
One Day Intensive first Friday* of the Semester, then
Thursdays
4:00 – 5:15pm (Fall/Spring), 4:00 – 5:30pm (Summer)

*Summer Intensives take place the first Monday (or Tuesday if Monday is a holiday) not the first Friday of the Semester.

+The In-House Counsel/Government Attorney Seminar is split into two seminars in the summer. The summer Government Attorney Seminar is held on Tuesdays from 4:00 to 5:30 pm. The summer In-House Counsel Seminar is held on Thursdays from 4:00 to 5:30 pm.

How many credits can I earn each semester?

  • There are two categories of externship credit: part-time and full-time. All students can earn part-time credit for externships. They can also always volunteer additional hours for no credit if they want to work at the site full-time.
  • Students with 60 credits and in the top half of the class can earn full-time credit. Students in the lower half of the class with 60 credits need to have a Bar Success Plan from the Academic Resource Center approved by the Associate Dean for Students Affairs to earn credit for full-time externships.
  • Students have until the add/drop deadline to adjust their credit amount.

How many total credits can I earn throughout law school?

  • Students in the top half of the class can earn up to 21 total credits of experiential learning (externships and clinics) towards the total of 90 credits to graduate.
  • Students in the lower half of the class can earn up to 15 total credits of experiential learning. To earn more than 15 credits (up to 21 credits) they need to have a Bar Success Plan from the Academic Resource Center approved by the Associate Dean for Students Affairs.
  • Practicums do not count towards experiential learning credits.

How many hours can I work? How many hours do I need to work to earn credit?

As explained above, you can always volunteer extra time at your site. The number of hours needed to earn credit differs between summer (8 weeks semester) and fall/spring (15 weeks semester). When determining how many hours you need to work, be sure to calculate using the total number (seminar plus site) of credits you are registered for. Each externship includes a one to two credit seminar that will show up separately on your registration. For example, if you are enrolled in a spring judicial externship for a total of 7 credits, then you need to work 17.5 hours each week. It will show up on your transcript as a 1 credit judicial seminar and a 6 credits externship placement.

Externship Hour Requirements

Fall/Spring
TypeCredit HoursHours Per Week
Part-time 2 5
Part-time 3 7.5
Part-time 4 10
Part-time 5 12.5
Part-time 6 15
Part-time 7 17.5
Part-time 8 20
Part-time 9 22.5
Part-time 10 25
Part-time 11 27.5
Full-time 12 30
Full-time 13 32.5
Full-time 14 35
Full-time 15 37.5
Summer
TypeCredit HoursHours Per Week
Part-time 2 9
Part-time 3 14
Part-time 4 19
Part-time 5 24
Part-time 6 29
Full-time 7 34
Full-time 8 37.5

Download Externship Hour Requirements (PDF)

Am I required to pay for the externship credits?

Yes, an externship is an academic course and you must pay for the credits received. Check with Student Financial Services (lawfa@seattleu.edu) to find out whether your scholarships and financial aid can be used for summer externships.

Can I work more hours than my credits require?

You may always volunteer additional hours at the site. Please note that some sites, particularly in summer, require students to be there full-time, regardless of how many credits they want to earn. If you do commit to working full-time at a site, they will expect you to do so no matter how many credits you are registered for. However, many sites will allow you to work part-time, especially if you have another job, classes, or other time commitment.

How do I decide where to apply?

There are a couple of ways to figure out which sites interest you. First think back to what brought you to law school. Did you already have an idea of what kind of law you wanted to practice in or are you here to explore? Do you want to be in the private sector or public sector? Once you have answered some of these questions, use the Externship Site Database to explore areas of law that might interest you. Read the descriptions and if a site interests you, reach out to some of the students who have externed there. You can either go through the SU email, the Washington State Bar Association, or Linked In. Professor Dutton tries to connect with all externs through Linked In to stay in touch after they graduate. Once you have identified a site that interests you, check the most recent newsletter to see if it is listed as “still looking” or as filled. If it isn’t there, email Samira Sharif to find out if it is accepting applications. In the meantime, start drafting your cover letters (you will need a separate one for every site) and send them to CPD first to review.

Why should l look in the Externship Site Database?

All approved externship sites are listed in the Externship Site Database. You may search by either the location of the externship or by the type of externship you are interested in. The Externship Site Database includes sites throughout the United States and around the world. For students interested in international externships, please contact Professor Gillian Dutton, Director of Externships, at duttong@seattleu.edu. If you want to apply to a site that is not listed and still want to get credit, it is best to check with the Externship Program first. If it is a non-profit, government agency, in-house counsel, or court/tribunal, it will likely be approved. Please remember we do not have externships at private firms. For paid opportunities, please contact the law school Center for Professional Development.

Why should I read the Externship Clinic Newsletter?

The Externship Clinic Newsletter, updated and sent every two weeks by Samira Sharif, is the best way to get information on which sites are currently looking for students and which sites have filled. When externship supervisors contact us and says they are looking for students, or have a deadline for applications, or have filled their positions, we provide that information in the newsletter. The newsletter lists sites by seminar, making it easy to see which sites correspond to which seminar. We also highlight recently added sites in the newsletter and on Instagram. Don’t forget to check the database as well as the newsletter to see the complete range of sites. If there is a place that interests you in our database, list it on your application or email us and we will check to see if they are accepting applications.

What are the steps to apply to externships?

Applying for externships involves (1) filling out the Externship Application Form on our website and (2) sending us cover letters and other materials (resume, writing sample, transcript, letter of reference if required) so that we can send them to the sites. Those sites should reach out to you in a few weeks to interview you, and if all goes well, will offer you the position. You then tell us you have been offered a position and withdraw from any other sites you have applied to. We will register you for both the seminar and the site once the registration period opens. For more details see application instructions.

Am I required to accept the first offer I receive?

Yes. Site supervisors spend a considerable amount of time reviewing application materials and expect that you are serious about working with them when applying. If you have a top choice for an externship, you can apply to that site first and wait a few weeks to hear back before applying to other sites.

Once you accept a site’s offer, they may do background checks and turn down other students. Withdrawing from an externship can have consequences for your own career and for the law school and future classmates.

How many sites do I need to apply to?

That depends a little bit on which sites you are considering.

  • Some sites will receive between 5 and 10 applications and may only select one to two externs. For those sites, you can apply there first, and get your other cover letters ready if you are not selected and need to apply to additional sites. Keep in mind that many sites also receive applications from other law schools
  • For other sites, you may be the only person applying, especially if you apply early. If you receive an offer, you don’t need to do anything further except accept the offer and let us know. We will register you when registration opens.

REMEMBER: If you are flexible and start the process early, we can guarantee that you will find an externship. Most students apply to between 1 to 5 sites. We always have more sites looking than students!

Can I apply for an externship before I have met with the externship faculty?

Yes! Fill out the Externship Application Form and let us know that you have signed up for an appointment. You only need to meet with externship faculty once. For later semesters you can start the process without another meeting. The appointments are on TWEN under “Appointments with Externship Faculty” and, as these are academic opportunities, you can meet any time to discuss externships and clinics after you start law school. The appointments are to give you an overview of the program and tell you about sites that might interest you. If you are waiting for an appointment, you can still fill out the online externship application, start drafting cover letters, and send them to the Externship Program. You can also email Samira for a drop-in appointment if you have a question that you can’t find an answer to on our website.

How do I register for an externship?

When you receive an offer from an externship site, please inform the Externship Program Office. We will register you for the seminar that applies to your site once the registration period has begun. You cannot register yourself.

Why do some externship sites also go through the On-Campus Interviewing (OCI) process or post on Symplicity and on their own websites?

Externship sites vary on how they advertise their positions. For any site that is approved by our Externship Program, you should find a profile in our database and can see which other students have been at that site. Some of the larger sites post their positions on Symplicity and/or participate in on campus interviewing. They do this to interview a lot of candidates at once. It is fine to obtain your externship through that process but be sure to let us know right away that you have received an offer so that we can save you a place in the seminar. Remember that there are many other sites who may be looking for just one student and so they won’t use these methods. They are simply waiting for us to send them materials from interested students and you might easily be the only student that is applying.

Can I do an externship at a place that is not listed in the Externship Site Database?

Yes, if the site meets our program guidelines and the ABA Accreditation Standards and is approved first by the Externship Director. Students must contact the Externship Program Office and provide time to approve the site before the externship begins. This includes a consultation with the proposed supervisor, assessment of the substance of the proposed work, and a written agreement with the supervisor regarding the expectations and requirements for on-site supervision and mentoring. We do not have externships at private firms unless they have a government contract to provide services.

I've been working/volunteering for a legal agency and would love to make it into an Externship. Can I?

Students can do an externship where they have previously worked or volunteered only if the proposed externship involves doing substantially different work, such as working on a new set of skills and tasks, or in an entirely different division. The Externship Faculty must approve any such exception before you can be registered. You can only earn credit during the regular semester and can’t receive credit for time spent previously volunteering.

Can I get paid for Externship work?

Seattle University does not allow compensation for externship work. However, you can be reimbursed for incidental expenses by your externship site if it is provided.

What if the site profile says they do a background check?

Many federal and state government sites will do a background check on each applicant. These background checks vary but generally include a complete review of any criminal history, immigration status and credit history, and some may include questions about drug use. They often take three to four months to complete and usually the student will not be able to work at the site until the background check has cleared. If you have any questions about the background check please ask externship program staff and in the case of any criminal history, request a confidential consultation with Professor John Strait (email at straitj@seattleu.edu) before applying to the position.

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 contact us at externships@seattleu.edu or make an appointment with the Externship Office on TWEN for additional information or clarification.