Externship In Law School

Is Taking An Externship In Law School Right For Me?

While externships have been growing in popularity in law schools across the country, many students still do not know what externships are or how externships can benefit students. An externship is often an internship during the academic year for course credit. Students should check with their counselors because each school runs externships differently. For instance, some externships take the place of all coursework during the semester while other programs may have students work while also attending a reduced number of classes.

Either way, there are benefits and disadvantages to taking an externship in law school which we’ll discuss in this post.

Is Taking An Externship In Law School Right For Me?

Benefits

1. Resume Booster

If you struggled during your first year in law school and your GPA is not where you would like it, adding additional experience before your 2L summer can help you remain competitive. A high GPA is important when firms and companies begin searching for 2L summer interns. If you do not have a high GPA, then adding another work experience can help balance it out. Companies may be willing to overlook a weaker GPA if the candidate shows strong work experience with a record of success while on the job.

In addition, if you enjoy working for the company as an extern, then see if the company would be interested in having you return as a summer intern. It is common for law students to turn one externship into a continued internship, and potentially a first job out of school. Working as an extern creates opportunities that strengthen resumes and overcomes below-average GPAs. For more tips about how to spruce up that resume, check out Our Legal Resume Tips here.

2. Experience in a field you enjoy

If your 1L summer internship did not provide the experience you hoped it would, an externship can allow you to work in an area that interests you. While you will most likely have to apply for the extern roles like any other internship, usually working with your university through a specified extern program gives you an advantage as companies and firms that participate in the extern program are looking to bring in students from your school. This gives you more leverage to find a position that interests you. If you did not like your summer 1L position, you now have the chance to try something new and gain experience in that field prior to applying for summer 2L positions.

3. Take a break from the stress of law school while still earning credit

Law school is a stressful environment for many students. Between the pressure of exams and competing against fellow classmates on the curve, the demanding nature of school can be difficult to handle. An externship provides students a chance to get away from the stress of law school while still building on their education. Again, each school is different, and students should speak with their school’s extern program director, but in most situations, students who participate in extern programs do not take courses for the semester. This means no stress over finals or memorizing cases and black letter law. Students can focus on their internship during the week without stressing over creating an outline on the weekends.

Many students find that taking an externship for a semester allows them to return to law school the following semester refreshed and confident they can continue with school. If you need more advice about dealing with the stress of law school, please read Law School and Your Mental Health here.

Disadvantages

1. Missing out on special, upper-level courses

There are only so many semesters or quarters in law school. This means that you cannot take every course or participate in every program. Some classes or only offered every few semesters. If you are certain about what field of law you would like to join, that may mean prioritizing classes over externships. If you want to go into tax law and you see the courses you need are the same semester as your potential externship, it may be better to take the class on taxes. You could also decide that taking an externship in tax would be just as beneficial as the upper-level course. There is not enough time in law school to do everything. If you want to take an externship, be prepared to miss classes you may wish to take.

2. Fewer opportunities for school competitions like Moot Court

In the same theme as above, you likely cannot work for a semester and participate in moot court the same semester. For school competitions, most schools have competitions in the fall and spring, meaning you can at least participate in one event. However, if you prefer the fall competition and you are away for your externship, you will only have one opportunity to compete instead of two. You may also miss try-outs for competitions that occur away from school. If Moot Court is your favorite thing about law school, think carefully before committing one semester to an externship.

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