What is the Externship Program?

October 29, 2020 | by Angie Doss

The Externship Program at the University of Arkansas School of Law provides valuable experiences that allow selected second- and third-year law students to work alongside and learn from attorneys on different career paths.

The program gives our students the opportunity to apply the knowledge and skills they are learning in their classes while also earning academic credit. With this program, law students can explore different areas of law and practice (or focus on a particular area or practice) through exposure to the work being performed as well as through meeting attorneys and others in the legal world to develop a professional network.

Students apply to participate in a placement by responding to postings from a pool of regular partners who sponsor externs, or by identifying a placement on their own and obtaining approval of the placement from the Program Director.

We place approximately 30-40 students per semester, of which roughly 20-30% are repeat externs. We can generally identify a place for any student who wants an experience.

Students have the potential to earn four academic credits in a Corporate Counsel Externship and three credits in the others. Students may earn a maximum of twelve credits during their second and third years from the Externship Program.

Third-year students are eligible to participate in a Capstone Externship for up to twelve credits (limited by the number of credits previously earned in externship placements). The Capstone Externship is designed to allow for fuller immersion in a placement in any of the categories.

What areas have consistently available externships?

  • Corporate Counsel (Legal, Compliance, Business, Litigation Departments)
  • Criminal Defense (Federal and State Public Defender Offices)
  • Criminal Prosecution (US Attorney and State Prosecutor Offices)
  • Government (State Institution General Counsel Offices, Federal and State Agencies)
  • Judicial (Federal and State Trial and Appellate Judges, Administrative Judges)
  • Legislative (Federal and State Senators and Representatives, State Legislative Bureaus)
  • Public Interest (Non-Profit Law Firms, Advocacy Organizations)

All categories of externship are available in summer, fall, and spring semesters. Students may repeat categories, as long as the subsequent placement is substantially different than a previous one.

What are some key benefits to students who participate in it?

  • Seeing the law in practice in addition to reading about it in a casebook
  • Learning practice protocol
  • Learning ethical pitfalls in a particular practice area/career path of interest
  • Becoming more comfortable among attorneys, judges, and other professionals
  • Honing research skills
  • Learning how to adapt legal writing to the particular practice area/career path of interest
  • Sharpening communication skills
  • Pushing beyond one’s comfort zone and fear of the unknown
  • Developing a professional identity
  • Developing a professional network of attorneys and others who interact with the legal world

What is the impact of the Externship Program on students’ careers?

Former externs account for a large number of our post-grad placements in JD-preferred positions in compliance and business roles.

Furthermore, former externs have landed post-grad positions in law firms, government agencies, prosecutor and public defender offices, as a direct result of their particular externship experiences.

If you’re interested in learning more about our Externship Program, please contact Professor Angie Doss at