Externships

UCLA School of Law’s Externship Program enables students to earn academic credit for unpaid work under the direct supervision of an attorney in a judicial, public interest, transactional, or criminal law setting. The Program works closely with a carefully curated collection of placements across Los Angeles and beyond to ensure that supervisors have the tools they need to deliver consistent and meaningful feedback, challenging work (on par with what would be assigned to an entry-level attorney), and meaningful integration into office culture.

Part-time externships are open to all 2L, 3L and LLM students, and full-time externships are available for JD candidates in their final 3 semesters of law school. Externship students complete field placement units at their placement and must participate in a corresponding seminar or faculty tutorial (depending on the type of externship) that guides students through critical reflection about their professional values and identities, legal ethics, their experiences in the workplace, and the impact of their placement’s legal work.

Contact the Externship Program

For Students

Externships provide an opportunity to practice doing the work of an entry-level attorney while benefiting from the support of both an on-site supervisor and an off-site faculty member.  Student externs have led crucial union negotiations, drafted state laws, argued motions in district court, cross-examined witnesses in restraining order hearings, authored appellate briefs and issued policy memos, among many, many other memorable experiences.

If you’re interested in pursuing an externship, please review the key deadlines and program requirements, and explore our database of placement sites. We encourage you to reach out to Director Davidson and schedule an advising session to get started. Depending on the type of externship, our advice about when to start applying changes (for example, judicial externs positions tend to have much earlier deadlines), so check in with us early and often!

  • Externship Learning Goals
    • Observe and learn from attorneys doing real-world work in a particular subject area.
    • Increase insight into how the legal system functions in the extern’s substantive area of practice
    • Practice the art of soliciting, receiving, and applying regular feedback.
    • Flex critical lawyering and self-care muscles.
    • Develop the personal and practical skills needed to succeed in the legal workplace; these include time management, rapport-building, presentation skills, knowing when to ask for help, and other relevant skills.
    • Engage in self-assessment through goal-setting, devising strategies for accomplishing those goals, and taking a proactive role in receiving feedback and mentorship from instructors and supervisors.
    • Build awareness of how systemic oppression can impact clients, colleagues, and key decisionmakers.
    • Explore professionalism, professional identity, and ethics in legal practice.
    • Promote self-directed and lifelong learning.
  • Key Deadlines

    The Externship Program’s dates vary each year. Students interested in a spring externship should begin looking no later than October 1, and students interested in a fall externship should begin looking no later than March 1. For specific program dates, please visit the Student Wiki.

  • Program Requirements
    1. Accept an externship offer from a UCLA placement site.
    2. Submit online application and Externship Agreement (via uploader link on the Student Wiki) prior to enrollment deadline.
    3. Work the required number of hours (52 hours for each unit of academic credit) over the course of the semester, while meeting (at least weekly) with your supervisor and diligently logging your hours through the Externship Timekeeping application. Regularly upload your SATRs (supervisor approved time reports) by the deadlines posted by the Externship Office.
    4. Attend your externship seminar (or tutorial meetings) and submit all assignments (journal entries, midterm, final) on time.
  • Field Specializations

    Field Specializations are externships that have been designed by experts in the specific practice area. These experts also teach the academic component of the specialized externship. Because field specialization placements are carefully designed in partnership with the seminar instructors, these placements are usually not on UCLA’s regular placement list.

    International and NGO Externships

    In partnership with the Promise Center for Human Rights and the International and Comparative Law Program, the Extern & Field Placement Program offers NGO and international placements for students pursuing international human rights work. Students seeking this kind of experience should contact Jessica Peake at peake@law.ucla.edu to begin identifying appropriate placement sites.

    Education Sector Policy and Consulting Externship

    The Center for Public Research and Leadership (“CPRL”) at Columbia University in New York City is a partnership of top professional schools that prepares a diverse pool of graduate students to lead, counsel, and foster deep structural change in U.S. educational systems. Students in this full-semester, 13-credit experiential learning opportunity live and work with other graduate students from across the country in New York City, while advising and consulting for major players in public education. To learn more, visit https://cprl.law.columbia.edu/.

    UCDC

    The UCDC law program is a full-semester externship program in Washington, D.C. that combines a weekly seminar style course with a full-time field placement to offer students an opportunity to learn how federal statutes, regulations and policies are made, challenged and replaced in the capital city. Students will learn alongside law students from across the UC system, and also engage in structured networking throughout the semester.   

    Federal Public Defender: Non-Capital Habeas Unit

    Students accepted to this field specialization will gain real, on-the-ground experience advocating for indigent criminal defendants in habeas corpus proceedings. Students will learn from two experienced deputy public defenders in the Non-Capital Habeas Unit of the Federal Public Defender’s Office. Students will work for two field placement credits (roughly one day a week) at the Los Angeles Federal Public Defender. They will learn substantive law, legal advocacy skills, and case strategy from their FPD supervisors in a corresponding weekly Monday evening seminar.

  • Frequently Asked Questions

    What is an externship? Is it the same thing as an internship?
    An externship is an off-campus learning experience for one semester (during the academic year only) in a judge's chambers, a government agency, non-profit or public interest organization, or in some cases, in-house counsel with a private company or corporation. Students in the externship program receive consistent and rigorous feedback from their placement supervisors, and critically reflect on their experience with their peers in a corresponding seminar course, or through a one-on-one faculty tutorial.

    Are externships graded?
    The field placement component of an externship is graded on a P/U/NC basis. The part-time extern seminar and tutorial are also P/U/NC. Students who do not complete the required components will not pass the 1 credit course, but letter grades are not assigned. The seminar and tutorial for full-time students is a 2 credit, graded course.

    Are there any prerequisites? (discuss PTLS)
    While there are no pre-requisites to take an externship, externs hoping to appear on the record in court will need to apply for the California Bar’s “Practical Training of Law Students” program, which certifies law students to provide legal services under the supervision of an attorney. Current students can learn more about the process by reviewing the Externship Wiki page on the topic.

    My summer employer offered me a fall externship. Will that work?
    Students rarely turn their summer employment into fall externships, for a variety of reasons. First, externships must be at UCLA-approved placement sites only. Secondly, students may not work at an externship site where they have previously worked, unless they can prove that the experience will be sufficiently different: it must involve meaningfully different challenges, learning opportunities, and, ideally, a different supervisor. If you’re interested in exploring this possibility, reach out to the externship office to discuss the position as soon as possible.

    I am an LLM student, here on a student visa. Can I still take an externship?
    Yes, with some limitations. Reach out to Vic Telesino, the Director of Graduate Admissions, to discuss the details. The externship office works closely with the Graduate Studies team to ensure that LLMs have a positive experience.

    How do I find an externship?
    Students generally find an externship either by networking, or by reaching out directly to one of our approved placements. We always encourage students to start by requesting a meeting with Director Davidson, to discuss your goals for your externships, and to obtain contact information for relevant placement sites. To learn more, visit the Externship Wiki.

    When is the right time to apply to externships?
    Students hoping to do a fall semester externship should begin searching for positions and applying around April. Note that start times for externship postings vary widely by subject area. Judicial externships and positions requiring security clearance generally get posted quite early. Transactional and public interest positions are posted throughout the spring and summer. Deadlines for the externship program are posted on the Wiki’s Deadlines and Deliverables page.

For Supervisors and Placement Sites

We are extraordinarily lucky to work with committed, compassionate attorneys who care deeply about ensuring that UCLA School of Law students get the most out of their externships. The Externship Office is on hand to support supervisors through difficult feedback conversations, assignment crafting, and anything else that may arise over the course of the semester. Supervisors also have a dedicated website where we post articles, videos, and guides to enhance supervision skills. You’ll also find the links to the midterm and final, your extern’s deadlines, and information about how to post an open externship position there. You can bookmark the site at: https://libguides.law.ucla.edu/externshipsupervisors


Interested in becoming an Approved Placement Site? Please review this information, and contact Director Davidson if you believe your office is a good fit.

Current placements: For guidelines on how to submit your postings, and more information and resources for current placements, please visit https://libguides.law.ucla.edu/externshipsupervisors.

  • Expectations for Supervisors

    Supervisors are expected to meet regularly with the extern (at least once a week) to discuss assignments, provide feedback, and field questions. At the mid-point and end of the externship, supervisors should participate in the student’s formal evaluation (provided by UCLA). Supervisors should ensure that all work assigned to the extern is equivalent to work that would be assigned to an entry-level attorney. Supervisors should spend significant time reviewing externs’ first drafts and providing detailed feedback to the extern. The extern should submit subsequent drafts to achieve the appropriate quality of work (rather than having the supervisor complete the document).

    Supervisors should strive to include the extern in office meetings, strategy meetings, and any other facets of office life – or the life of a particular case – that would enhance the extern’s understanding of the work. For the full list of placement and supervisory duties, visit Supervisor Resources.

  • Resources for Supervisors

    Resources are updated regularly. For the most recent collection, visit Resources for Supervision.

  • Rules Specific to Placement Sites
    1. Placement sites may not provide the student with any compensation. If you are concerned about labor laws, please refer to this fact sheet: https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/fact-sheets/71-flsa-internships.
    2. Only UCLA-approved sites may host externs. Please do not engage our students for externships if you are not sure that you are a UCLA-approved externship placement site. Please email or call Director Davidson to verify your status, or inquire about becoming an approved site.
    3. Our students may not extern for additional semesters without changing the externship significantly to include new challenges.
    4. The UCLA Academic Standards do not allow students to extern at for-profit law firms.
    5. Externs should be incorporated into any office meetings, events etc. that would typically welcome entry level attorneys.
  • For Prospective Placement Sites

    The Externship Office welcomes inquiries from Los Angeles-area organizations seeking to serve as externship placement sites. Please review the information on this site, and reach out to Director Davidson to begin the process.

    Contact the Externship Program

    You can reach Director Davidson at (310) 206-4945, or email her at davidsons@law.ucla.edu.

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