As one of the largest and most robust programs in the nation, our externship program offers you an effective and comprehensive bridge to go from law student to lawyer.
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Information for Students
Learn how to gain law-related work experiences outside the law school
What is an externship?
Legal externships specifically refer to monitored legal and law-related work experiences in which the placement is outside of the law school (versus working in an in-house clinic or as part of a lab with a faculty member). In externships, students get real-world working experience while establishing intentional learning goals and reflecting actively on what is learned throughout their experience under the guidance of both a faculty advisor and supervisor in the field. Students earn credit for their fieldwork and first-time externs also earn credit for their participation in a required academic seminar.
The Legal Externship Program maintains a large, password protected, database for Denver Law students only that includes Supervisors that have already been approved by our program.
The database is searchable by:
- Rotation/placement type, such as corporate, nonprofit, etc.
- Practice area, such as environmental law, family law, etc., and/or
- Name of the Supervisors.
Students are provided with an individual username and password for the database upon enrollment at Denver Law. If you have not yet received it, please contact the Legal Externship Program at firstname.lastname@example.org.
After you identify Supervisors of interest, consider contacting them to be sure they have an extern position for the semester in which you want to work. Don’t forget to review the binders in our office for student feedback on prior placements with supervisors.
2020-2021 Key Dates
November 2, 2020 Deadline for registration for Spring Semester 2021 Semester in Practice. Students may be accepted to the SiP program after the deadline if there is space available. Please contact email@example.com. November 23, 2020
Priority registration deadline for Spring 2021 is November 23, 2020. Registrations for first-time externs will be accepted on a rolling, space-available basis until December 18. Registrations for repeat externs will be accepted until January 4.
December 18, 2020 Last day for first-time externs to submit paperwork for spring semester externship. January 4, 2021
Last day for repeat externs to submit paperwork for spring semester externship.
January 13, 2021 Mandatory orientation for first-time externs for spring semester, 9:15 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. April 26, 2021 Priority registration deadline for summer semester. Registrations will be accepted on a rolling, space-available basis until May 7, 2021. May 3, 2021 Deadline for registration for Fall Semester 2021 Semester in Practice. Students may be accepted to the SiP program after the deadline if there is space available. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. May 7, 2021 Last day to submit paperwork for summer 2021 externship. May 20, 2021 Mandatory orientation for first-time externs for summer semester, 9:15 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. (format TBD).
Guidelines for Paid Externships
In August 2016, the American Bar Association issued new standards surrounding field placements and externships. Students are now permitted to receive both pay and credit simultaneously.
If you are a Denver Law student interested in seeking both pay and credit for an externship, please be aware of the following:
- An externship is considered paid if any sort of financial compensation is received by the extern while the extern also receives academic credit. Such financial compensation can come in many different forms including, but not limited to: an hourly/weekly/monthly wage, stipend, fellowship, and/or grant. Such financial compensation can be provided by the field placement OR another outside source. Denver Law does not provide any payment at this time for externships.
- Denver Law permits students to receive pay and credit simultaneously. The externship office will contact you and/or your supervisor if we have any questions about your paid externship.
- Regardless of pay status, both the student and Supervisors must still agree to abide by all of the requirements, rules, and regulations surrounding externships for credit as discussed in the Student Handbook, Supervisors Manual, Semester-Specific Acceptance Form, student and supervisor certifications (found in CORE), ABA standards for field placements, and any other documentation provided by Denver Law.
- Denver Law externship faculty will need to communicate with the Supervisor about the paid externship prior to approval. If the Supervisor is new to our system, an application is required, as it is for all new supervisors regardless of pay status.
- All students and Supervisors must complete the Semester-Specific Acceptance Form and indicate, as requested, whether or not payment is being provided by the placement and/or received by the extern.
- Students seeking credit for work with a current employer may be eligible to receive both pay and credit for an externship with the same employer. A memo describing the increased educational value of the experience and how the work will be substantially different from the work the student is already engaged in as an employee is required. This must be submitted by the Supervisor, not the student, via email to email@example.com during the semester prior to your externship (in advance of the stated externship deadline). Work might be considered substantially different, for example, if it includes different projects, a new supervisor, or involves work in a different division of the office. Evening division students and students who are employed part-time in legal offices may fall into this category of students.
- Students who are enrolled in paid externships are NOT ELIGIBLE to satisfy their public service requirement through such externships even if the externship was at a government agency or nonprofit (which typically does satisfy the public service requirement).
- If an opportunity to receive payment presents itself during the semester in which you are enrolled for an externship for credit through Denver Law (vs. pre-enrollment), email firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss whether you are able to adjust your externship so that it can become a paid externship.
- Paid externs have restrictions on their use of research databases. Unpaid externs can use any and all research databases with their accounts. Paid externs can use their Bloomberg Law accounts. Paid externs cannot use their Westlaw accounts. In fall/spring, paid externs cannot use their Lexis accounts but they can use Lexis accounts in a paid externship in the summer as Lexis has a special summer access program. Paid externs will have to gain access to these programs from their supervisors/offices.
- Students are limited to two paid or unpaid externships for credit with the same placement. However, allowances for additional paid or unpaid externships with a placement may be permitted in limited circumstances. Email email@example.com to schedule a meeting with externship faculty.
If a student or Supervisor has any questions or concerns about paid externships, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you have completed a minimum of 28 credits, congratulations! You are eligible to enroll in an externship at the Sturm College of Law. You can do an externship within the state of Colorado, throughout the country, or even internationally! For Summer and Fall 2021, in certain limited circumstances, an exception may be granted for students who have completed at least 22 credits. Preapproval from externship faculty is required.
You may complete an externship for 2 to 6 field credits. Each credit corresponds to 50 hours of work and thus you can work from 100 hours to 300 hours. Generally, you are limited to 15 externship field credits during your time at Denver Law. Field credits are counted as part of your overall out-of-class credits, which is limited to 25.
Please note: If you intend to start your externship more than 2 weeks after the start of the fall or spring semester, or 1 week after the start of the summer semester, you must advise the Externship Office. This does not apply to Semester in Practice – you must start your externship the first week of the semester if in SIP.
If you are a 3L in the Semester in Practice Program, you work full-time and your externship field credit limit throughout your time at Denver Law increases to 19 credits.
To enhance your experience, first-time externs are also required to enroll in a corresponding academic seminar and all externs participate in reflective and assessment assignments.
At Denver Law, if you are a first-time extern, unless the externship is part of one of our Specialty Programs, you are required to participate in a 1-credit graded seminar alongside the externship in the field.
This seminar is designed to enhance your experience in the field. It requires attending and actively participating in some in-person group sessions and engaging in out-of-class reflective exercises. Students will receive a syllabus at the onset of the semester with detailed information on the seminar and assignments. Typically, students are required to attend 4 in-person sessions of their choice, have a one-on-one meeting with an externship faculty member, complete evaluations, complete a learning plan, and write a final essay. Students must also log hours worked weekly. Students should refer to their syllabus for the most accurate information.
To enroll in the seminar, please place yourself on the waitlist for L5031, which is the Externship seminar, during the registration process. Right after the deadline for externship registration, if you have uploaded your Supervisor Acceptance form, you will receive an email to choose which in-person sessions you would like to participate in. We will then remove you from the waitlist for both the fieldwork and the seminar. Note: Barring an excused absence per University standards, students cannot attend a different session once signed up.
Welcome back to the Externship Program! Students are designated as repeat externs if they have already completed one externship with our office and have completed the required seminar with a passing grade. Repeats are not required to enroll in the seminar, but in addition to completing hours at the placement, repeat externs must complete a series of reflective-based assignments throughout the semester. Completion of these assignments is required to earn a grade of Pass for the field credit. Students earn 4 hours to apply to the hours required for their field credit for these assignments.
Assignments typically include participating in an online discussion blog, meeting at least once with an externship faculty member, completing a self-skills evaluation, completing a learning plan, listing field encounters (list of projects done), and completing a mid-semester and final evaluation. Students must also log hours worked at the placement weekly. Students will receive a syllabus at the onset of the semester with more information on the assignments, how to complete and submit them, and when they are due.
If a student receives a grade of No Pass for the fieldwork credit of an externship, the student may not be eligible for enrollment in future externships for credit.
The Legal Externship Program offers different specialty programs in which applications are solicited and students enroll in subject-specific, robust seminars that range from 1 to 3 credits. The seminars typically teach a mix of substantive law and skills relevant to the area of practice. These programs often have earlier deadlines than regular externships and may or may not be offered every semester/year– please review!
The Cannabis Specialty Externship Program is an opportunity for students to interact with organizations, law firms, government entities, and companies working in cannabis law and intersecting areas. This program is part of the Legal Externship Program at the Sturm College of Law and will take place in the spring 2020 semester.
The Sturm College of Law posts employment and externship/internship opportunities in various industries, including the cannabis industry. Cannabis is legal in the State of Colorado; however, the University of Denver and Sturm College of Law acknowledge that cannabis remains a federally illegal Class I drug. Students should, therefore, consider the risks before accepting opportunities within the cannabis industry.
The goal of the Child Advocacy Program is to train law students on the underlying legal issues involving children, youth, and their families so that students are prepared to advocate on behalf of children in Colorado’s courts. It also aims to develop a robust and supportive community of students and supervising attorneys engaged in children’s legal work. It includes an externship and a 2-credit specialty seminar. The seminar focuses on the substantive law behind legal advocacy for children and youth. It primarily explores the fundamentals of dependency and neglect proceedings involving abused or neglected children but also exposes students to juvenile delinquency law, education law, immigration law, and other intersections of youth and the legal system.
Applications are due March 5, 2021 to email@example.com for the Spring 2021 program.
Corporate Apprenticeship Program
The Corporate Apprenticeship Program (CAP) is an opportunity for students to work in the legal department of a corporation. CAP is one of the oldest in-house externship programs in the country. It began in the 1980s and has been offered every year since its inception.
Students extern at the in-house placement and take a corresponding one-credit seminar taught by an expert in in-house practice. Participating organizations have recently included:
- Anthem Blue Cross & Blue Shield
- Arrow Electronics
- Charles Schwab
- CSG Inc.
- Empower Retirement
- Janus Henderson Investors
- Lockheed Martin
- Marathon Petroleum
- Mercer Advisors
- National Bank Holdings
- National MS Society
- Spectrum Retirement
- Translogic Corp. dba Swisslog
- Westmoreland Coal
Lorenzo Márquez Diversity Internship Program
The Colorado Supreme Court and the Colorado Court of Appeals seek diverse* 2L, 3L, and part-time students from CU and DU as judicial externs for the Lorenzo Márquez Diversity Internship Program. Externs typically work ten (10) hours per week, but the court will coordinate your schedule with their supervising justice/judge, including receiving time off during exam periods and law school breaks. These are unpaid positions, but students will receive externship credit for their work in the field. Program details are available for students interested in participating in this externship. Please contact Christopher Newman at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com with questions.
*For purposes of this program, the courts define “diverse” students as those who are historically underrepresented in the legal profession (generally based on race, ethnicity, ability, age, sexual orientation, gender identity/expression, socio-economic status, and national origin).
Public Sector Pledge for Diverse Students
Students who identify as diverse should apply to the Public Sector Pledge Program co-sponsored by Judge Kristen L. Mix, the Legal Externship Program, and the Career Development and Opportunities Office. This program typically runs in the fall semester and includes placements and supervisors dedicated to the public good and to diversifying the legal profession. Placements typically include judicial chambers, prosecution offices, state and federal public defenders, state and federal government agencies, and nonprofits. Spring 2021 applications are due March 15, 2021. Include a general cover letter, resume, and a completed required cover sheet, which includes the list of placements and allows you to choose preferences. Send your completed application to firstname.lastname@example.org on or before the deadline.
Semester in Practice
“The Semester in Practice really works…he is ready to take an associate’s job.”
The Semester in Practice (SiP) gives students the opportunity to develop practice skills by fulfilling 15 credits (12 fieldwork credits plus a 3-credit graded seminar). Students work full time during the externship (40 hours per week).
In this capstone experience, offered only to students in their last year of law school, students have significant exposure to the substantive law in their externship, and focus on skills and professional identity in their seminar. One of a handful of such programs in the country, the Semester in Practice is a bridge from law school to practice.
Each SiP is customized to the needs and desires of the student. Faculty meet with prospective students to help them find the externship that will provide significant development for them on their way to becoming practicing lawyers. Students in the past have participated in the SiP at a huge range of placements, both private and public. Supervisor information about Semester in Practice.
As enrollment is limited, students are required to complete an application to be admitted to the program. The Fall 2021 Semester in Practice application deadline is April 2, 2021 and placements must be finalized by May 31, 2021. Students may be accepted to the Semester in Practice program after the deadline if there is space available. Please contact email@example.com.
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Information for Supervisors
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Important Information for Supervisors Regarding Spring 2021 Externships
Please know that our faculty and staff are available to help you navigate student engagement during these challenging times.
Though this is still very much a developing scenario, at this point, we do plan to continue to offer students the opportunity to complete externships during the pandemic. Of course, any final determination will be driven by the University Administration with consultation with our individual department. We understand that due to the Coronavirus outbreak, some placements may no longer be in a position to offer externships (in person or remote), whereas others do hope to still participate in our program, whether in person or remote. If the extern and the placement wish to work in person, each semester, supervisors will be asked to provide safety protocols and students will review a risk acknowledgment.
Office of Career Development and Opportunities
Feel free to also contact our career services colleagues via firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in hiring a student intern on a non-credit bearing basis, hiring a new graduate, engaging in dialogue around OCI fall recruitment, or serving as a resource for our students during these uncertain times.
Ultimately, we hope we can work together to still make this a productive and meaningful fall for you and our externs. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us at email@example.com. We look forward to continuing to work with you and thank you for all that you do to support Denver Law students.
Thank you for your interest in learning more about Denver Law’s Legal Externship Program. Sharing your skills, knowledge, and experiences is a critically valuable asset to students as they learn to make the transition from law student to lawyer. When you join our program, you not only provide students with the opportunity to do real legal work, but also guide, mentor, and train the next generation of lawyers.
Specifically, Supervisors help students establish, and then realize, learning goals by providing practical, hands on legal experience in a real-world work environment. Supervisors ensure the experience for the student is educational, offering plenty of constructive feedback and limiting administrative/clerical duties to no more than 10% of the extern’s workload. Supervisors integrate externs into their offices as much as possible and commit to engaging with them on a regular basis.
Denver Law also offers a capstone externship opportunity to 3L students. The Semester in Practice (SiP) program gives students the opportunity to develop practice skills by fulfilling 15 credits (12 field work credits plus a three credit graded seminar). Students work full time during the externship (40 hours per week). Please click here for additional information about the SiP program.
In accordance with new ABA standards, for summer 2017 and beyond, students can now be supervised by either lawyers or non-lawyers, pending approval. Students can receive both pay and credit simultaneously. All externship placements must provide a substantial lawyering experience that is reasonably similar to the experience of a lawyer advising or representing a client or engaging in other lawyering tasks. All supervisors must have at least 5 years of experience relevant to their field. Supervisors from all areas of practice are welcome.
Requirements & Deadlines
To apply to participate in our program:
- Complete a Supervisor Application Form. When prompted, use SUPERVISINGATTORNEY as the Institution Code. This is a one-time form. Please note that you must have 5 years practice experience to be a supervisor.
- Read and agree to the Supervisor Certifications in your CORE account. The Certifications can be found under My Requirements.
- Be available to talk with a Denver Law externship faculty member who will reach out to you upon review of your application. Please note: Your information will be used for purposes of the Legal Externship Program only.
To effectively recruit students:
- Once approved, keep your application information accurate, detailed, and updated by revisiting your account in our database.
- Select your extern in advance of our program’s deadlines:
Fall Semester Typically on/about August 3, depending on what day of the week August 3 falls on Spring Semester
Priority registration deadline is the last day of fall classes. Registrations will be accepted on a rolling, space-available basis until the 3rd Wednesday in December.
Summer Semester Priority registration deadline is the last day of spring classes. Registrations will be accepted on a rolling, space-available basis until the 1st Thursday in May.
- Email firstname.lastname@example.org if at any point you want our office to advertise your placement to students beyond its automatic inclusion in our password-protected searchable database.
To supervise in accordance with our requirements during the externship:
- Help each student prepare a learning agenda outlining learning goals and setting clear expectation at the beginning of their externship.
- Complete an online evaluation of each student at the end of the semester and if during fall or spring semesters, at the midway point of the externship.
- Offer plenty of constructive feedback throughout the semester.
- Limit administrative/clerical duties to no more than 10% of the extern’s workload.
- To promote an optimal learning environment, all field placements should include a regular in-person component that facilitates ongoing dialogue and feedback about assignments. Most commonly, this means students will work regularly in an office alongside their Supervisors. As we understand that remote work arrangements are becoming more prevalent in the legal market, we do make some exceptions when Supervisors plan alternate arrangements to meaningfully connect with students. Such arrangements may include regular in-person meetings, shadowing opportunities, videoconferencing, travel, etc.
- It is the policy and practice of the University to provide equal opportunity in employment, educational activities, and other programs to all employees, students, and applicants. No person shall be discriminated against in any condition of employment or opportunity because of race, color, national origin, ancestry, age (40 and over), religion, creed, disability, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, marital status, pregnancy, military enlistment, veteran status, and genetic information. In addition, the College of Law prohibits all forms of sexual misconduct, which includes sexual harassment, non-consensual sexual intercourse, non-consensual sexual contact, sexual exploitation, domestic and dating violence and stalking. It is expected that externship supervisors and their placement’s employees and staff will conform to this policy and take positive steps to assure that all externships will be business-like and free of bias, prejudice, and harassment. The College of Law will extend its facilities and placement services to those supervisors whose practices are consistent with this policy.
To learn more about the pedagogy of externships, ABA guidelines for externships, and best practices for success, review our Supervisor Manual.
Externship Program Goals
The Legal Externship Program aims to provide opportunities for students to work directly with practicing attorneys and professionals while engaging in critical reflection about the legal profession, their legal career, and their priorities and values as lawyers and individuals through supervised field experiences and externship
Our goals include:
- Developing the art of lawyering, including such skills as research, writing, legal analysis, client interviewing, communication, negotiation, and advocacy
- Providing opportunities that integrate substantive learning with the practice of law
- Promoting the ethical practice of law by sensitizing students to issues of professional responsibility
- Assisting students to develop confidence in practical lawyering situations
- Increasing students’ understanding of their own individual strengths and weaknesses as lawyers
- Exploring and understanding workplace issues such as time management, workplace culture, teamwork, giving and receiving feedback, and achieving balance in one’s life
- Promoting self-directed and lifelong learning
"It is one thing to learn about practicing law in the classroom; it is another to actually practice it. I think that this externship seminar combined with my actual externship experience gives me the best of both worlds." Natalie Thornton, JD'15
Legal Externship Program
2255 E. Evans Avenue
Denver, CO 80208
Monday–Thursday from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Summer: often closed on Fridays