Jontae Chatman '05

"The externship program allowed me the opportunity to deal with matters of life or death. I worked with attorneys across the country, challenging the constitutionality of the juvenile death penalty. I learned that things are seldom what they seem and, as attorneys, we need to look beneath the surface, for that is where the truth often lies." -Jontae Chatman '05

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Externship FAQ

What is the benefit of an externship?

1. Perspective. Although you are taught objective legal argument in law school, the primary thrust is to train you as an advocate. The largest benefit of an externship is for students to see advocacy in action.

2. Exposure. Working as an extern allows you to view the documents and observe hearings on a large number and variety of legal actions.

3. Resume Value. Legal employers respond favorably to externships. The experience serves as a reliable discussion topic during interviews.

4. Networking. The best contacts made during an externship are with the supervising attorneys and staff.

What do externs do?

It depends on the organization for which you extern. Most students can expect to do some legal research and writing, observe court proceedings, and attend meetings with the supervising attorney. Some externs may also be involved in interviewing and counseling victims or clients.

How do I get an externship?

Students apply directly to the non-profit organization or government agency for their externships. You should check with the placement for specific application requirements, but most placements will require at least a cover letter and resume.  For a list of frequent local placement options and their requirements, please see this website.  

When should I apply for an externship?

Students must have their externship arranged before applying for academic credit.  As a general rule:
For fall Externships , it is best to send out your applications by June 15.
For spring Externships , it is best to send out your applications by November 1.
For summer Externships , it is best to send out your applications by February 15.
Different organizations have different deadlines.  If you miss these dates, check with the organization to see if they are still accepting applications.

What organizations should I consider?

First, determine the type of experience and exposure you want.  The clinic has binders containing previous extern evaluations of their externship experiences. This is a valuable tool for students in determining which organizations might be of most interest.

May I work at the same placement for credit for more than one semester?

No.  The goal is for students to gain a different type of a working experience should they decide to participate in a second externship. As a result, students cannot receive credit for any placement for which they have previously worked, whether for credit, compensation, or on a volunteer basis.

Can I only get credit for externing with local organizations?

If you are interested in a placement that is not on this list, please contact Professor Erma Bonadero at ecbonade@central.uh.edu to ensure the placement meets the Law Center’s requirements for academic credit.

What will the interview be like?

Depending on the organization, you may interview with one attorney or with several attorneys. No matter who interviews you, always display respect toward the staff and be sure to conduct research on the organization prior to the interview.

What should I wear to an interview?

Always wear formal business attire when interviewing. The key is to dress conservatively. This includes dark suits, white shirts, and conservative ties for men, and dark suits, collared shirts, and panty hose for women.

What do I have to do to get credit?

1. You must have finished your first year of law school and you must have a minimum 2.33 GPA at the time you apply for credit.

2. Secure your position with the placement of your choice.

3. Complete the online application found on this website. Once submitted, Prof. Bonadero will review it, and, if your application is approved, will email Student Services requesting you to be registered for the clinical and classroom courses. You will be copied on this email so you know your enrollment is in the works.

4. Once accepted, you must:
a) Perform legally substantive work during the course of the semester (which may include a certain amount of observation of proceedings)

b) Spend a minimum of 180 hours at a 3-credit placement, or 240 hours at a 4-credit placement and provide a detailed log of your time.

Still feel like you need more guidance or information?

Stop in and talk with the externship supervisor:
Professor Erma Bonadero
ecbonade@central.uh.edu.