Semester-in-Practice Externship

 Mary L. Perry 

THE SEMESTER-IN-PRACTICE EXTERNSHIP is an innovative program that empowers second- and third-year law students to gain hands-on professional experience anywhere outside the St. Louis area. Through this externship, students earn academic credit by spending a semester working full time for a nonprofit, government, or in-house corporate law office in the location of their choice. Students in the Semester-in-Practice Externship work directly with an attorney/field supervisor and receive oversight at the law school from a faculty supervisor. The rigorous program provides direct professional training, while serving students’ diverse geographic interests.

Program Goals

  • improved lawyering skills such as research, writing, legal analysis, client interviewing, communication, negotiation, and advocacy
  • integration of prior learning in law school with the practice of law
  • student exposure to legal ethics in context 
  • development of an understanding of workplace issues such as time management, workplace culture, professionalism, teamwork, and giving and receiving feedback
  • experiential training and alumni mentoring designed to assist with career placement in the student’s desired geographical location 
  • promotion of self-directed, lifelong learning

Course Requirements

This externship is open to third-year and second-semester second-year students. Students will work full-time in their externship placements; participate in biweekly conferences with their faculty supervisor; complete weekly reflective journal entries; and regularly report hours and activities. At the end of the semester, the student must complete an evaluation of the placement. Students who perform satisfactorily will earn one (1) hour of academic course credit for each 4 hours of work per week during the 15 weeks of the externship (12 credits). (To be a full-time student in any fall or spring semester, the student must be taking a minimum of 12 credits.  A student can earn the necessary additional credit during the semester by doing a directed research project with a member of the faculty, taking a weekend mini-course or one in the Intersession, or taking a course at a law school near the placement location.) Prerequisite: completion of all first-year courses and a course from the ethics curriculum. Grading will be credit/no credit.

Application Process

Admission to the externship is by application only.  The student must identify a placement site and have the site submit a letter or email that: 1) describes the nature of the work the student would perform in the proposed externship; 2) identifies the attorney who would be the student’s immediate field supervisor; 3) states the organization’s commitment to the educational goals of the externship and to providing the student with appropriate work assignments and on-going feedback on the student’s work; and 4) contains an agreement to discuss the student’s performance with the faculty supervisor both during and at the end of the semester, confirm the hours the student worked, and complete a written evaluation of the student’s performance at the end of the placement.

The student must also submit a pre-registration form (including the name of a faculty member who will serve as a reference), resume, statement of interest, transcript, and writing sample. Final selections are made based on faculty recommendations, statement of interest and demonstrated academic achievement.  Both the student and the placement site must receive approval.

STUDENTS: Click here to view information about the Semester-in-Practice Externship. This handout provides general information that will be helpful for you to know before registering.

Click here for registration forms.

For application information, as well as an explanation of required application materials, please contact Katie Herr, Clinic Operations Manager, at or Mary Perry, Lecturer in Law and Director, at