Externship FAQs

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  1. What kinds of externships can I do? 
    There are four different types of externships: Individual Externships, Advanced Individual Externships, Faculty-Mentored Externships, and Integrated Externships.  Some are part-time and some are full-time; please see the Externship Handbook for details.  Placements are available in government and non-profit organizations, judicial chambers, and corporate counsels’ offices.
  2. How can I register for an externship?   
    Students may not register themselves for externships or the corresponding academic component(s); students planning on doing externships should register for regular courses during registration until final approval of their placements (including any possible security clearances).  Students are encouraged NOT to register for clinics, however, as last-minute changes to those rosters are disruptive to clinic teams. 
  3. What are the deadlines to apply to the program?
    All students must apply to the program by the last day of Registration for the proposed externship semester; the CPRL program at Columbia Law School has its own deadline. See the Externship Handbook for specific details based on the type of externship you’re applying for.

    Because of the varying schedules of placement organizations, the placement need not be confirmed at the time of the application.  Even without a placement, a student may be admitted to the program, provided they fill out their application before the applicable deadline.  Please allow 1-2 weeks for approval.

    After a student has received approval for externship credit, the Externships Program must receive the signed Statement of Expectations Form and the Externship Registration Form by January 1 for Spring placements and August 1 for Fall placements.  The exception is students waiting for security clearances from the federal government, who have until the end of drop-add to enroll.
  4. Am I committed to participate by applying?
    No.  You are not committing to a program simply by applying, but you are committed after accepting an offer from a placement.  Your commitment is what helps us maintain our special relationships with our competitive, outstanding partner organizations. Without it, our partners cannot trust us and will find other sources for externs.
  5. Is there an academic component to an externship? 
    Yes – first-time Individual Externships require the one-credit Externship Seminar; Duke in D.C. requires a four-credit Federal Policymaking seminar, held in D.C.  Full-time placements and Advanced Externships have their own requirements; see the Externship Handbook for details.
  6. Do externships count toward graduation credits?
    Yes; some as in-class credits (such as the Externship Seminar) and some as out-of-class credits (such as the work hours).  You are responsible for checking your progress toward your degree to help ensure that you have the number and type of credits to graduate; if you have any questions about your progress, please contact your academic advisor.
  7. Are remote placements allowed? 
    Yes. You should think carefully about whether a remote placement serves your goals, and talk this over with Professor Gordon, however.  We strongly discourage placements where you are the only remote member of the team.
  8. Can I extern outside of the Triangle area, including internationally? 
    Yes; we have had numerous students do fulfilling national and international externship placements.  Unless the placement is remote, this would require you to purse a Faculty-Mentored Externship or the CPRL program in New York; see the Externship Handbook for details.
  9. Are placements at for-profit companies allowed? 
    Yes, provided they are part-time and your supervising attorney works in-house at a company.  Private law firm placements are allowed only in exceptional circumstances and require Curriculum Committee approval.
  10. Can first-semester 2Ls take an externship? 
    Yes, in limited circumstances.  Consider, however, whether you will get more out of the experience having taken more substantive classes first.  For example, we would not advise externing at a public defender’s or prosecutor’s office without having taken some combination of Evidence, Trial Practice, and/or Criminal Procedure.
  11. Can international LLMs take an externship?
    International LLMs can take Individual Externships, starting in their second semester of law school.  The International Studies department coordinates that application procedure, which typically has an earlier deadline than the regular program.  Those on student visas proposing off-campus placements must complete the process to earn Curricular Practical Training (CPT), in conjunction with Duke Visa Services; the Externship Program will help with that process.
  12. What are the costs of the program?
    There is no fee for any externship. Rather, you pay regular tuition, and any financial aid that you already receive (loans, grants, scholarships) applies to the externship credits just like taking classes in Durham.  For full-time placements, including Duke in D.C., you can speak with the Financial Aid Office and request a higher budget to cover additional costs you anticipate incurring, such as a higher cost of living in the location of your placement.
  13. Can I take a clinic and an externship?
    We hope you do!  Just not in the same semester.  Due to fluctuating workloads, inflexible commitments such as court and client work, and the mental energy required by our experiential offerings, students are advised to enroll in either a clinic or an externship in a single semester. If you still want to enroll in more than one of these programs at a time, the student must have the permission of both instructors.
  14. Where can I go for more information?
    Please see the Externship Handbook for details on all of the above.  Students with questions after reviewing the handbook are encouraged to sign up for Office Hours with the Director of Externships; that link is on the Duke Law Externships website and here: