Frequently Asked Questions

If the answer to your question is not found in our frequently asked questions, contact the Externship Office.

Absolutely. Many students with no legal experience participate successfully in the Externship Program. Some externship sites prefer students with work experience or coursework in a particular field, but most do not.

The externship provides work experience in the legal profession and gives students an opportunity to determine the type of work that will best suit them post graduation, whether or not they’ve done any legal work in the past.

Some students choose a particular externship because it will give them exposure to a field of law they hope to practice in the future. Others pursue a specific opportunity to strengthen an identifiable skill set. (Judicial clerkships, for example, are an excellent way to enhance legal writing skills.)

The Externship Program is associated with nonprofit and governmental agencies in diverse legal fields around metropolitan Atlanta. When you look through opportunities, you can sort or search by practice area or organization type.

No matter which one you choose, every externship in our program will strengthen your practical skills, gain insight into the operation of the legal system and develop a heightened sense of professional responsibility.

If you have additional questions about whether a particular externship is right for you, discuss them with one of the faculty co-directors or Saundra Blalock, program coordinator.

Some externships require 3L status because students will represent clients in court pursuant to the Third-Year Practice Act. Many (not all) of the criminal prosecution externships include this requirement.

Many second-year students have participated in the Externship Program. The most successful participants carefully consider in advance how to balance the time required for their externship, academic classes, job interviews and extracurricular activities.

Yes. Externship sites designated as “Part-Time Students Only” are designed for and only open to students enrolled in the part-time program. These sites accommodate students who aren’t otherwise able to participate because of external commitments. Also look for opportunities that state “part-time students are encouraged to apply.” These typically have regular work hours, but can accommodate part-time students.
Yes. As in the fall and spring, externs are required to work a total of 140 hours at the placement. To achieve this requirement, students must work a minimum of 20 hours per week over the course of the seven-week summer semester.
No. Some placements are only offered one semester each year and some sites will decide each year whether to participate. The opportunities list is the best resource for available externship sites for the following placement cycle.
No. It’s unusual for an extern to receive a job offer from an externship site. Students should not take an externship for the purpose of securing permanent employment with a particular site. Some judges even preclude externs from applying to be full-time clerks in the same office.

Despite this, the program provides invaluable experience. Students who work in prosecutorial offices after graduation often are able to have their externship time considered when calculating a starting salary.

Students may only participate in the Externship Program for two semesters (for example, two one-semester externships or one two-semester externship). The limitation ensures all students have an opportunity to participate in the program.
Students may only enroll in one externship each semester. Students who wish to participate in a clinical program and an externship during the same semester must receive permission from an externship faculty co-director before they accept an externship offer.

In most cases, students won’t receive permission to participate in a clinical program and an externship during the same semester because students who have done so have had a difficult time meeting the time commitments of each program.

Externships are graded as satisfactory or unsatisfactory. Students can apply a maximum of 11 credit hours of S/U work (excluding litigation) toward graduation.

No more than 12 credit hours of combined clinical coursework and externships can be applied toward graduation. Students may only take six credit hours of externships (equivalent to two semesters).

This is almost never permitted. Agency site supervisors (not Georgia State faculty) make the decision to have a one- or two-semester placement.

In the absence of extraordinary circumstances, students who accept a two-semester placement, but complete only one semester of the assignment will receive no credit for either semester.

Several externships, particularly those in federal agencies, require a security clearance before a student can begin the externship. In our experience post-9/11, this can be a lengthy and rigorous process.

The vast majority of students secure clearance, but some have not. Students should carefully consider whether issues in their past could affect their ability to secure clearance. Credit problems or a record of criminal conduct, for example, can delay or preclude clearance for many federal agencies.

If you have questions about your ability to secure clearance for a particular externship, speak with a faculty co-director before submitting your application.

Students who accept externships with a security-clearance requirement must submit the necessary materials to the agencies as quickly as possible after acceptance. This maximizes the chance the student receives clearance by the beginning of the semester.

Students who need clearance to perform legal work, but have not secured it within two weeks of their start date will have to drop their externship.

Students should fully disclose and discuss all potential conflicts of interest with the hiring externship site. The externship site will decide if the conflict is sufficient to disqualify the student.

Students with part-time or full-time paid positions with an approved externship site cannot take that particular externship.

No. Although we recognize that such work experience is valuable, we don’t provide credit for placements we have not approved.
No. Students cannot receive simultaneously compensation and academic credit. You may only receive academic credit for work at an externship site if you were selected through our application and interview process.

Students who have a part-time or full-time paid position with an agency approved by the Externship Office may not take an externship with that agency.

Part-time students are eligible to participate in the Externship Program after they’ve completed all required first-year courses (fall or spring externships) or all required first-semester, first-year courses (summer externships).

To qualify under the Third-Year Practice Act, students must have earned at least 58 credits prior to the beginning of the externship.

There is no particular schedule required by the externship program outside of the 10-hour (fall or spring) or 20-hour (summer) weekly minimum. Some sites require students to be present on particular days because of court or work schedules.

Many also prefer or require students to work two five-hour days (when 10 hours a week is required) rather than a few hours each day. Before you accept a placement offer, discuss scheduling expectations with the site supervisor.

If you apply for and accept an offer, you have taken a spot from another student and made a commitment to that externship site. The site and the college expect you to maintain your professional reputation by fulfilling your obligation to complete the externship.

Absent a significant hardship, we do not permit students who accept an offer to drop the externship at any time.

If it is determined that an externship must be dropped, explicit approval of a faculty co-director also is required and a Letter of Reprimand will go into your permanent file. Students who drop an externship will receive no academic credit and cannot reapply in the future.

No. Securing a paid position almost never qualifies as grounds to drop an externship. Students who think they may need or want a paying job during the semester that could interfere with their ability to complete an externship should not apply for an externship.
No. Students must work their class schedule around their planned externships. Class conflicts aren’t sufficient grounds for withdrawal from the program or being excused from the class component of the externship.
No. You must work a minimum of 13 weeks throughout the fall or spring semester. With the permission of the site and completion of your 140 hours, you may end your placement one week early. Otherwise, you cannot end the externship early absent extraordinary circumstances and the approval of an externship faculty co-director.

The summer course requires completion of 20 hours per week for seven weeks.

 
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