Student Eligibility

Who is eligible to apply for an externship?

  • First year students can enroll in part-time externships starting in the summer after your first year.
  • Second year students can enroll in part-time externships in fall or spring.
  • Third and fourth year students can enroll in any part time externships. Beginning in the summer after your 2L year, you can also enroll in full-time externships if you have earned 60 credits by the time the externship begins AND are in the top half of the class. If not in the top half of the class, you may still be enrolled in a full time externship if you have a bar success plan and approval by the Associate Dean for Students Affairs.
  • Evening students can enroll in any part-time externships starting the summer after your first year and should check with the Externship Program Faculty because many full-time externships may be available on a part-time basis. 
  • LLM and MLS students may enroll 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.

Rule 9 Information
Some 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. The site supervisor must sign your application, not the Director of the Externship Program. For instructions on how to apply, visit the WSBA website here. 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 they are organized as follows:

  • Prosecuting Attorney's Offices and Public Defenders (Criminal Seminar)
  • Legal Services Organizations and other Non-profits (Civil Seminar)
  • Governmental Agencies and In-House Counsel's Offices (In-house/Government Seminar)
  • Courts and Administrative Tribunals (Judicial Seminar)
  • International Organizations and Tribunals. (International Seminar)

Spring Only in Olympia:

  • Legislative and Lobbying Organizations (Legislative Seminar)
  • Olympia Courts and Administrative Tribunals (Olympia Judicial Seminar)

How many credits can I earn and how many hours can I work?

  • There are two categories of externship: part-time and full-time. All students have a total of 15 experiential credits and are able to do part-time externships. Students in the top half of the class have 6 additional experiential credits for a total of 21 credits, and are eligible to extern full-time. If you are not in the top half of the class and would like to use 21 credits or do a full-time externship, you can meet with faculty/staff at the Academic Resources Center to establish a bar success plan that will enable you to earn additional credits.
  • All externships include a required seminar that is included in your total credits. To earn credits you must work the number of hours specified here

Am I required to pay for the externship credits?

Yes, an externship is an academic course and you must pay for the credits received.

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 earned.

What sites can I apply to?

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

How do I apply to externships?

See application instructions here

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.

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

Yes, as long as it meets the ABA Accreditation Standards and is approved first by the Externship Director. Students must contact the Externship Program Office and provide sufficient lead time to approve the site. Generally, this will include: 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.

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

Students are not allowed to do externships where they have previously worked or volunteered. The only exception is if the proposed externship involves doing substantially different work (working on a new set of skills or in an entirely different division). The Externship Faculty must approve any such exception before you can be registered for the seminar.

When is the deadline to apply to externship sites and to the externship seminar?

  • Site Deadlines. Some sites have individual deadlines and we will list those if the sites have let us know. If the profile says SU deadlines that means that the sites start accepting applications 4 to 5 months before the semester begins and will accept applications until filled. Most sites are receiving applications from other law schools as well so it is a good idea to begin the application process early!
  • Program Deadlines. The Externship Program also has two deadlines: (1) for contacting us to apply for the upcoming semester (generally seven weeks before the semester) and, (2) for submitting completed applications (five weeks before the semester). These deadlines are posted in the newsletters and on the website for each upcoming semester. Please note that an Externship Seminar may fill before these deadlines, and once a seminar is filled, students will not be able to extern in a site for that specific seminar, but may submit applications to different sites if a different seminar is still open. 

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 they offer that.

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. Once an offer is accepted they may also 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. If you have a top choice in a site you can apply to that site first and wait a few weeks to hear back before applying to other sites.

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 as much as 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 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 or make an appointment with the Externship Office on TWEN for additional information or clarification.