Welcome to Savannah Law School’s Externship Program, your bridge between law school and the practice of law. Externships or field placements provide you with the opportunity to integrate the theoretical knowledge learned in the classroom with the practical experience of on-the-job training. Unlike an internship, an externship allows you to receive academic credit for the education you gain outside of the classroom.
The Externship Program’s mission is to provide students with quality field placements that develop professional and practical skills while providing the academic support needed to ensure a successful and meaningful on-the-job performance.
Goals of the Externship Program
- Provide professional skills instruction in the following areas: problem solving, legal analysis and reasoning, legal research, fact investigation, interviewing and counseling, negotiation, organization and management
- Provide students with opportunities to develop their written and oral communications
- Instill fundamental values of the legal profession
- Develop professional practice standards
- Promote understanding of the roles played by the various “actors” in the judicial system
- Promote understanding of the psychological and sociological factors that may affect an attorney’s ability to be an effective counselor and advocate for his or her clients
- Provide opportunities for examining the application of legal doctrines learned in the classroom to the resolution of “real world” legal problems
- Expose students to the importance of public service and the need for equal access and competent legal representation to all
What are the steps for obtaining an externship?
- Externship opportunities are announced through the Career Development Office (CDO). The application procedure for each externship will vary based on each placement’s requirements.
- If you have secured a placement not offered through the CDO please submit a PLACEMENT APPROVAL REQUEST form to determine the placement’s eligibility.
- If the placement offers to interview you, contact the appropriate person and schedule an interview.
- Once an offer is made, contact the attorney to accept or decline the offer.
- Coordinate the dates and times of employment with your new employer.
- Register for Externship Class by completing a STUDENT ACTION REQUEST form
- Complete the SECURED PLACEMENT CONTRACT
- Sign up on TWEN
Will I have any responsibilities outside of my externship?
Yes, there is a mandatory classroom component in conjunction with your work experience. Each student must register for the class on TWEN and complete all assignments in order to receive academic credit.
What does the classroom component entail?
The classroom component consists of an orientaion, group and individual meetings, and participation in the online course on TWEN. Students must complete all reading assignments and submit periodic journal entries on topics related to the practice of law. Students will also use the discussion boards on TWEN to share experiences with the rest of the class. Students must submit weekly timesheets, a goals worksheet, and mid-term and final evaluations.
Who is eligible for an externship?
Students must have completed all required first year courses, be in good academic standing and have at least a 2.00 GPA prior to enrolling in the Externship Program.
What constitutes an eligible placement?
In order to qualify for the externship program, a placement must
- Be a judicial clerkship or a position with a governmental agency, or a legal non-profit agency;
- Meet the educational goals of the Externship Program; and
- Be under the supervision of a practicing attorney
Placements with private firms or attorneys are approved on a limited basis. For more details please refer to Qualified Field Placements.
May I receive monetary compensation for my work?
No. Students are not allowed to receive any monetary compensation from the field placements, with the exception of reimbursements for out-of-pocket expenses such as parking.
Do I need a 3rd Year Practice Certificate?
Only students accepting placements that will involve litigation are required to have a 3rd year practice certificate. To be eligible under Georgia’s Third-Year Practice Act, a student must be regularly enrolled, be in good standing, and have satisfactorily completed at least two-thirds (59 credits) of the requirements for a J.D.
Dean’s Certificates are sent directly to the supervising attorney upon request by a student.
Please contact the Externship Director for further information.
How many credits am I eligible to receive from an externship?
Students may earn a total of 12 externship credits during their law-school career. Students interested in participating in the externship program for more than one semester are encouraged to apply to a different field placement, but may complete up to two semesters at one placement site for a maximum combined total of six externship credits. Students can earn a minimum of two externship credits any semester. Typically the maximum number of externship credits that can be earned in a semester is six; however, students can earn up to twelve credit hours upon approval by the Externship Office. Externships that exceed six credit hours will generally be limited to third-year students. Each credit hour requires that a student complete 47 hours of work.
Number of Credits
Total Hours Worked (Minimum)
Average Hours Worked Per Week
Hours are based on a traditional fourteen (14) week externship.
How are externships graded?
Externships are graded on a Pass/No Credit/Fail grading scale. Consistent with graduation requirements a student may not receive credit for more than ten (10) credit hours in elective courses with Pass/No Credit/Fail grading, expect that hours earned in the Externship Program shall not count toward this ten (10) hour total.
What happens if I decide to withdraw from my externship?
A student may withdraw from an externship only with the prior permission of the Externship Director. Since withdrawal from an externship may also mean withdrawing as counsel in a case, the rights of the client(s) affected will be a paramount consideration. SLS Academic Code § 502(d). Students are strongly discouraged from withdrawing from their externship. Students will be given permission to withdraw only under extreme and unavoidable circumstances. Students may receive a WF which is a withdraw failing notation on his/her transcript.
Qualified Field Placements
All field placements must be approved by the Externship Office. Placements will be approved if they meet the educational goals and objectives of the Externship Program. A non-exhaustive list of pre-approved placements is available here. If you are interested in a pre-approved placement please contact the CDO for more information. If a student is interested in a placement not on the list, he or she must complete a PLACEMENT APPROVAL REQUEST form and submit it to the Externship Office. If necessary, the Externship Office will contact and/or visit, the desired placement to approve it for the Externship Program.
In order to be approved, a placement must:
- Be a judicial clerkship or with a governmental agency, corporate legal department or a legal non-profit agency;
- Meet the educational outcomes of the Externship Program; and
- Provide direct supervision by a practicing attorney.
Placements with private firms or attorneys are approved on a limited basis. Preference is given to private firms or attorneys that have a significant number of pro bono cases which a student can work on during the externship. Factors for approving a placement without pro bono cases include, but are not limited to, length of time the attorney or firm has been in practice, reputation in the legal community, and primary areas of practice. Preferred practice areas include immigration law, family law, alternate dispute resolutions, estates, wills and trusts, health law, entertainment and sports law, and intellectual property. Students seeking approval for a private placement must submit a Placement Approval Form to the office at least two weeks (14 business days) before the first day of class in the semester the externship is requested.
Information for Employers
If you are an employer seeking an extern, please send an email to Lauren Knight at firstname.lastname@example.org listing your name, organization, contact information, job description, and application requirements.
Please see the SUPERVISOR’S HANDBOOK for further details
Lauren K. Knight
Director of Career Development and Externships