Newswise — Beginning in fall 2013, Washington University School of Law will offer the Semester-in-Practice Externship, an innovative program that empowers second- and third-year law students to gain hands-on professional experience anywhere in the country. Through the externship program, students will 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.
“Washington University School of Law continues to proactively respond to the challenging job market our students face by creating innovative programming like the Semester-in-Practice Externship,” said Kent Syverud, dean and Ethan A.H. Shepley Distinguished University Professor.
“Our students tell us that our existing comprehensive clinic and externship programs are the number one reason they chose Washington University School of Law. Having established our reputation as one of the highest ranked law schools in the nation in clinical education, Washington University School of Law is taking the next logical step by expanding our clinic and externship opportunities coast-to-coast.”
The law school’s clinic and externship programs already in place in Washington, D.C., New York, St. Louis, and abroad are among the most comprehensive programs available, added Robert Kuehn, associate dean for Clinical Education and professor of law. However, because of their popularity, these unique opportunities are always in high demand, year after year.
“For the 2012–13 academic year, we were oversubscribed for the 70 available spots in our four existing U.S.-based out-of-town externships, with the D.C. and New York externship courses being particularly popular,” Kuehn said.
“The Semester-in-Practice Externship will open up new opportunities and help address growing student interest in semester-long experiential learning opportunities outside the St. Louis area, including in Chicago and Los Angeles. Students will be able to literally design their own professional practice experience.”
Students in the new Semester-in-Practice Externship will work directly with an attorney/field supervisor and will receive oversight at the law school from a faculty supervisor. The rigorous program will provide direct professional training, while serving students’ diverse geographic interests.
The school’s Career Services Office, which proactively partners with students in their professional development and job placement goals, reports that the current class of first-year Washington University law students has identified more than 40 different cities as their first choice for post-graduation employment.
“The Semester-in-Practice Externship will facilitate students in obtaining critical practical experience in their desired geographic location, which in turn, will be an important part of their professional portfolio in seeking employment post-graduation,” said Janet Laybold, associate dean of Admissions, Career Services, and Student Services. “It also will provide valuable contacts as our students work to expand their professional network during law school.”
Student externship experiences in D.C., New York lead to jobs
Third-year law student Joe Franklin stressed the benefits of the coveted Congressional & Administrative Law Externship, one of the nation’s oldest law school Clinical Education Programs on Capitol Hill.
“There is no substitute for work experience in D.C. if your goal is to be an attorney for the federal government,” said Franklin, who will work for the Food and Drug Administration’s chief counsel’s office after earning his J.D. this May. “The D.C. Clinic provides a combination of relevant coursework, networking opportunities, and, most importantly, the chance to work full time in a high-profile agency office. I have no doubt that my work at the FDA during the D.C. Clinic let me demonstrate that I would be an excellent candidate for a job with the counsel’s office.”
Similarly, recent graduate Ramsey Mesyef, JD ’12, said his experience as one of the first students in the law school’s New York City Regulatory and Business Externship provided critical real-world experience.
“Washington University’s New York externship was an invaluable part of my legal education,” said Mesyef, who is currently working as an Associate, Control Room Compliance, for Goldman Sachs.
“In this competitive market, the combination of real-world legal training and built-in networking opportunities was a true capstone to the law school experience that prepared and equipped me for the job search and the next step in my career,” he continued.
“The faculty facilitated seminar-style, in-depth learning, which encompassed both real-world case studies and guest speakers who breathed life into the subject matter. The exposure to practicing attorneys and practical, skills-oriented curriculum also helped me identify the direction I wanted to take after graduation and put me in an ideal position to pursue it.”
Brief background on WUSTL law experiential learning opportunities
The Semester-in-Practice Externship will further the robust offerings in Washington University School of Law’s Clinical Education Program, which has long been recognized as offering one of the most comprehensive experiential learning opportunities in the nation.
The program’s seven client-based law clinics give Washington University law students the opportunity to serve, with law school faculty, as members of professional teams representing clients in real cases. An additional eight formalized externships offer professional legal opportunities in the St. Louis area, Washington, D.C., New York, Delaware, and Virginia.
International externship opportunities are available through the International Justice & Conflict Resolution Field Placement, which focuses on international courts, tribunals, and conflict resolution organizations. Additionally, students can pursue summer experiential opportunities throughout the United States and in Africa and other countries, as part of the school’s Summer Public Interest Law Program.
Kuehn noted that the new Semester-in-Practice Externship will greatly expand students’ ability to pursue experiential learning opportunities with a much wider range of legal mentors. “It is a perfect fit with our goal of partnering with our students for their professional success in whatever place they choose to start their careers,” he said.
For more information on Washington University School of Law’s Clinical Education Program’s 15 unique professional practice opportunities, visit http://law.wustl.edu/clinicaled/index.aspx.