The Externship Program immerses Willamette University College of Law students in the fast-paced work of the practicing lawyer. Students are partnered with attorneys working in various legal settings in the wider community. These students are able to participate in legal work in many different contexts, under the constraints of a real-life practice. Attorneys who supervise students in the Externship Program receive training and mentoring from the externship coordinator.
Every spring semester, the Oregon Legislature convenes. With the rise in legislative activity across the street at the state capitol, large numbers of Willamette students plunge into a variety of externship placements. Willamette students work with state legislators, the governor’s office, the Judiciary Committee and the Oregon Law Commission on a wide variety of legislative issues. The opportunity to participate in the Oregon legislative session as an extern comes only once during each law student’s period of study at the College of Law.
Of course, not all externs work directly with legislative groups and individuals. Externs also work with the Marion County Circuit Court, the Marion County Mediation Program, the Grand Ronde Tribal Court, and Oregon’s Department of Consumer and Business Services. Students participate in transactional work, legislative drafting and lobbying, litigation, administrative advocacy and alternative dispute resolution. Externs can seek a placement that fits their particular skills, background and interests.
Participation in the Externship Program
The Externship Program provides an experiential learning environment that allows law students to develop their skills and values as novice lawyers. The program also seeks to strengthen the College of Law’s relationship with the bench, bar and community and to improve students’ prospects for obtaining satisfying, permanent employment after graduation. As such, the Externship Program allows students to “test the waters” in a specific area of legal practice. This program often is the capstone experience for students during their study at the College of Law.
Students participate in the Externship Program by enrolling in Externship
(Law 478). This part-time (3 or 6 credit) or full time (8-10 in the summer;
13-15 in during the semester) course is graded on a pass/fail/honors basis.
Students enrolled in the part-time Externship Program work either 8 or 20
hours per week in the field placement. Those in the full-time program work
40 hours per week. Participation in the program requires an academic
component. Students attend class, produce on-line assignments, and produce a
final written reflective paper. Students are also required to meet with the
Externship Professor at least once during the semester. The externship
course is open to second- and third-year students in good academic standing
who have received a passing grade in LRW.
“Willamette's Externship Program has given me the opportunity to get hands-on legal experience in the area of law that I am interested in. The course has been the most valuable learning experience I have had in law school.”
— Gina L. Huck, Class of 2006