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.
612 externship placements
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.
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 email@example.com.
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.
2023-2024 Key Dates
August 4, 2023: Last day to register for fall externship. August 10, 2023:
Mandatory orientation for first time externs for fall semester (9:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. via Zoom).
November 3, 2023: Deadline for registration for Spring Semester 2024 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. Initial application due October 13, 2023. November 20, 2023:
Priority registration deadline for Spring 2024. Registrations for first-time externs will be accepted on a rolling, space-available basis until December 15. Registrations for repeat externs will be accepted until January 2, 2024.
December 15, 2023: Last day for first-time externs to submit paperwork for spring semester externship. January 2, 2024: Last day for repeat externs to submit paperwork for spring semester externship. January 4, 2024: Mandatory orientation for first-time externs for spring semester, 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. April 22, 2024: Priority registration deadline for summer semester. Registrations will be accepted on a rolling, space-available basis until May 10, 2024.
May 1, 2024:
Priority deadline for registration for Fall Semester 2024 Semester in Practice. Students may be accepted to the SiP program after the deadline if there is space available. Please contact email@example.com. May 10, 2024: Last day to submit paperwork for summer 2024 externship. May 16, 2024: Mandatory orientation for first-time externs for summer semester, 9am-12:30pm via Zoom. August 2, 2024: Last day to register for Fall 2024 externships.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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 email@example.com 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 firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a meeting with externship faculty.
If a student or Supervisor has any questions or concerns about paid externships, email email@example.com.
If you have completed a minimum of 22 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! Part-time students externing in their first summer should be sure to notify placements of which 1L courses they have not yet taken. Students can enroll in an externship during their 1L summer even if their G.P.A. is lower than 2.3; students can also enroll in an externship during fall/spring semesters if their GPA is below 2.3, but they must first consult with the externship director.
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 ensure compliance with the ABA, both first-time externs and repeat externs will be required to engage with externship faculty/staff to ensure they participate in ongoing, contemporaneous faculty guided reflection. First-time externs will be required to participate in a 1 credit graded seminar.
For more information on how to register for your externship, please see the Spring 2024 registration information. Please review the Student Handbook for more information. Once you have uploaded the Supervisor Acceptance Form to CORE and your supervisor is approved (if necessary), our office will get you registered.
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 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 10, 2023 to firstname.lastname@example.org for the Fall 2023 program.
Corporate Externship Program
The Corporate Externship Program provides students a unique opportunity to extern in-house at a company or in a law firm’s transactional department serving corporate clients. Students also participate in an accompanying 1-credit seminar focused on the role of in-house and external counsel serving company clients. The seminar explores how to navigate the matrix of internal client structures, develop productive relationships with non-lawyer business counterparts, and solve problems to advance the company’s strategic objectives. This program typically runs in spring and is open to all students, including first time and repeat externs. All students must enroll in the seminar even if repeat externs. Please review this doc for information to apply for spring 2024.
Lorenzo Márquez Externship Program
The Colorado Supreme Court and the Colorado Court of Appeals seek 2L, 3L, and 4L students from CU and DU as judicial externs for the Lorenzo Márquez Externship Program for Spring. Judge Lorenzo Márquez was the first Latino district court judge in Grand Junction, and in 1988, he became the first Latino judge on the Colorado Court of Appeals, where he served until his retirement in 2008. Judge Márquez started the appellate externship program to inspire all students, and particularly those from underrepresented backgrounds, to consider post-graduation clerkships and possible careers on the bench.
The courts typically prefer students to be able to work two full days (e.g. 16 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.
Note: externships are typically in person. If you cannot work in person options may be limited or unavailable.
Spring 2024 Application process for DU: Applications will be due Nov. 1 to email@example.com and will include resume, one cover letter (applicable for all judges), and writing sample (LP memo/brief is fine if that’s what you have!). Your cover letter should explain why you are interested in the program and how you might benefit from participating in it. Please submit all materials in one PDF. Students may be asked to meet briefly with the externship department as well after submitting their applications to help us best understand your interests. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org with questions.
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.
The Spring 2024 Semester in Practice application deadline is October 31, with a priority registration of November 20, 2023. Students may be accepted to the Semester in Practice program after the deadlines if there is space available. Please contact email@example.com.
Veterans Advocacy Project
The Veterans Advocacy Project, a collaboration between the Rocky Mountain Veterans Advocacy Project and the Sturm College of Law, offers a seminar and externship course in which students, together with professors and other attorneys, assist veterans with their VA Disability Benefit Compensation claims and Discharge Upgrades. Students will be simultaneously enrolled in the Military Law and Veterans Advocacy course for the Spring or Fall semesters, as well as 3 credit hours in the externship program.
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Information for Supervisors
Discover how you can work with 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 DU Supervisor Handbook.
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