The Judicial Externship class provides an opportunity for students to learn about both lawyering and judging by observing and participating in the work of a judge and his or her staff. Which judges and courts participate varies each term, but externships are typically available with federal magistrate-judges and with judges at the federal district court, federal court of appeals, federal bankruptcy court, state trial court, state court of appeals, state tax court, and American Indian tribal courts. State trial court placements are with judges handling criminal, civil, family, or juvenile court matters and with problem-solving courts (e.g., drug court). Externships may also be available at the Office of Administrative Hearings and with the federal Immigration Court. Separate application to those courts is required; watch for notice about placement possibilities through the Career Office.
Federal court placements (Federal District Court, Federal Magistrate-Judges, and Federal Court of Appeals) are made using an application process that occurs a few months before the start of the term. Notification will be sent to all students about deadlines for applying. For the rest of the placements, students registered for the class will be asked to complete a form specifying their preferences and to submit a resume, transcript, and cover letter to be used in the placement process. Students will be assigned based on their requests and the judges’ needs. After placement, each student arranges a work schedule with the assigned judge and his or her staff. Students are encouraged to arrange their class schedules to have several large blocks of time available for fieldwork; free mornings are especially important for attending court hearings.
Fieldwork in chambers generally includes both substantive assignments in research and writing and observation of court proceedings. Substantive assignments will depend upon the nature of the court’s calendar and may include such work as preparing a memorandum or proposed order and decision on a summary judgment motion, summarizing and evaluating deposition testimony, or researching substantive legal issues raised in a motion, trial, or appeal. Students may observe a variety of proceedings, ranging from settlement conferences to motions hearings to trials to appellate arguments. They may be proceedings conducted in cases for which the student is performing research or they may be part of unrelated cases. The precise nature of the assignments and observation opportunities in chambers is at the discretion of the judge and the judge’s staff.
Students may elect to register for 2 credits (100 hours of work, including fieldwork in chambers) or 3 credits (150 hours of work, including fieldwork in chambers). Students may repeat the class once, and may work with the same or with a different judge or court. Students taking the course for the first time are given preference in initial enrollment.
Students will document and reflect on their fieldwork in journals and will interact with the instructor and with other students in the class through periodic group or individual meetings. During the summer, some meetings may occur via web technology.
Initial enrollment is limited to ensure placement, but students on the waiting list will be added to the class as the number of confirmed judicial assignments increases.