Externship Opportunities


General Externship Program Information

The Externship Program is designed to allow a student to receive academic credit for gaining legal experience beyond that available in the classroom setting, by working under the supervision of a licensed attorney in a governmental or non-profit setting. The amount of credit awarded for the field placement component of a student’s externship is based on the number of hours that the student works during the semester in the externship placement, with 1 credit awarded for every 50 hours of work. Travel time to and from the externship placement does not count towards the 50 hour per credit requirement. The expectation is that a student will work in the externship placement over the course of the entire semester, with 1 credit of work correlating to approximately 4 hours in the placement each week.

In addition to the hours spent working in the externship placement, externs are required to submit biweekly reflection papers to their faculty supervisor. Credit for work in the externship placement and the associated reflection papers will be awarded on a Credit/No Credit basis.

A student participating in an externship must have completed or be currently enrolled in a course designated as satisfying the Ethics and Professionalism Requirement for graduation. This requirement may be waived, with permission, in order to enroll in an externship. A student who has earned 6 credits in externships and wishes to enroll in additional externship credits must obtain the prior approval of the faculty Curriculum Committee.

A student participating in an externship may not earn a salary or receive other compensation for the work performed in the placement, except for reimbursement for travel and other work-related expenses required by the placement entity.

The following types of externships are available: Individual ExternshipsIntegrated Externships, and Faculty-Mentored Externships. Please fill out the Statement of Interest Form by December 1 to be considered for a Spring externship, and April 17 for a Fall externship.  Please direct any questions to Professor Anne Gordon, Director of Externships, 919-613-8563 or agordon@law.duke.edu


Individual Externships

2 to 4 credits, with option for 1 to 2 credit research paper

To register for Individual Externship credit, fill out the Externship Registration Form obtain required signatures, and submit to the Registrar's Office PRIOR TO THE FIRST DAY OF CLASSES for the semester. Only 2L and 3L students may enroll in an externship, and a student may not exceed 6 total credits of externship during law school. Externs must complete 50 hours of fieldwork per credit enrolled, and those hours must be completed between the semester's first day of classes and the last day of exams, according to a schedule mutually agreed between the student and the host organization. Students are discouraged from enrolling in the same externship placement for an additional semester, and externship credit will be permitted in this circumstance only with special permission. 

If your externship will involve working directly with clients and/or appearing before a judge, you also should complete the forms necessary to become approved by the North Carolina Bar for student practice, under the supervision of a licensed attorney. These forms may take up to 4 weeks to process, and so you should begin this process as soon as possible after receiving your externship offer: complete NC Bar "Student Certification Regarding the Rules of Professional Conduct" form and the NC Bar "Law School Certification" form (submit both to the Registrar for processing and signatures). See North Carolina State Bar Rules, Chapter 1. Rules and Regulations of the North Carolina State Bar, Subchapter C. Rules Governing the Board of Law Examiners and the Training of Law Students.

Integrated Externships

Faculty-taught course that integrates a shared-theme externship experience with complementing seminar

Faculty-Mentored Externships

Full-semester externships for up to 14 credits

Faculty-mentored externships, including externships abroad, require Curriculum Committee approval.

Externship Requirements


Externship students will be required to participate in an Externship Program Orientation. Following Orientation, and as soon as possible after beginning the externship, externs must fill out and return the Supervisor/Extern Agreement Form.

Bi-Weekly Reflection Paper Assignments

Under Law School Rule 3-25, students who are enrolled in an externship are required to complete and submit bi-weekly reflection papers, which should be about 2 single-spaced pages in length, in memo format. Reflection papers should describe thoughts and reactions to externship experiences, but should not discuss the substance of an extern's work, which could be a breach of confidentiality.

Student externs should email their bi-weekly reflection papers to their Faculty Supervisors, as well as submit to the course site through Sakai.

Hours logs

Bi-weekly reflection paper submissions must include an hours log. Hours may simply be noted at the top or bottom of the reflection paper. Please report the number of hours that were completed during the time period between reflection papers, as well as the cumulative fieldwork hours total for the semester so far. Externship Attorney Supervisors do not need to "sign off" on an extern's hours report. Travel time to and from an externship placement does not count towards extership hours, but travel time between the placement office and the court (or other venue) may count towards externship hours if the time was spent discussing cases, process, strategy or assignments with a supervising attorney. Students must complete externship hours – 50 hours of fieldwork for every registered credit – between the first day of classes and the last day of exams.

Site visits and evaluations

Externship faculty supervisors may conduct externship site visits. At the end of the semester, externship supervising attorneys will be asked to fill out a Final Evaluation Form in order to provide feedback on the student extern's performance during the externship.

Rules & Policies

Rule 3-25. Externship Program