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Ad Hoc Externships

JD students may, under limited circumstances, seek faculty approval to create an individualized Ad Hoc Externship for academic credit.

What is an Ad Hoc Externship?

An Ad Hoc Externship is intended to provide an experiential learning opportunity for a student who has demonstrated a strong interest in a specific subject area which does not have an experiential offering in the curriculum.  The Ad Hoc Externship Program grants academic credit for a student’s field work and involves a structured academic course, requires appropriate placement site supervision, journaling requirements, and bi-weekly meetings with a faculty supervisor or enrollment in the Externship Seminar course, in addition to fulfillment of all placement site responsibilities. All externships are graded as Pass/Fail, and are considered “co-curricular credits” for degree requirement purposes.  Requests for approval of Ad Hoc Externships must be timely submitted to be considered (please see the deadline dates below). 

In accordance with faculty policy, Penn Law grants academic credit for externships at non profit organizations, government entities and with federal and state judges. Penn Law does not grant academic credit for externships performed at for-profit organizations or institutions, including law firms and corporate legal departments. The Ad Hoc Externship Program is not intended and may not be used as a means of obtaining academic credit for pro bono hours performed in an external setting which exceed the pro bono requirements of the Toll Public Interest Center.

Each Ad Hoc Externship application is considered on its own merits according to the Law School’s established policies. Past approval of an Ad Hoc Externship is not authority for, and may not be relied upon, when seeking approval for an Ad Hoc Externship.

Ad Hoc Externships may be permitted according to the following guidelines:

Approval Process and Deadlines

  1. Interested JD students should research possible placement sites and apply directly to the site for the externship.  A list of recent Ad Hoc Externship Placement Sites can be found here, but students can apply to other placement sites. 

  2. In addition to applying directly to the placement site, you must submit a Proposal form to externships@law.upenn.edu . The deadline for submitting the Proposal Form for Fall 2021 Externships will be midnight on July 16, 2021. A student must have submitted an application to the placement site by this date, and the Proposal Form must be submitted by July 16, 2021 even if the student has not received an offer yet from the placement site. Late Proposals will be not be accepted.  See below for a Proposal Form that is to be used only for Judicial Externships.
  3. Once an offer is received, the student must complete the Statement of Understanding” form that is signed by the student, the faculty supervisor and the externship placement supervisor. Instructions on obtaining the necessary electronic signatures via DocuSign can be found by clicking the link to the form above.  The deadline for submitting the Statement of Understanding Form, signed by all parties, for Fall 2021 Externships will be August 6, 2021. See below for a Statement of Understanding Form that is to be used only for Judicial Externships.

4.  Proposals will be approved only upon a showing that all three criteria are met:

  • The externship would allow a student to study experientially a subject or subjects, directly related to their legal education, is not covered by a course or seminar offering (including clinical courses and current standing Gittis externships with local non profit and government organizations) and, (if distant from Philadelphia), is not available through a comparable placement in the Philadelphia area that might be arranged; 
  • The student requesting approval has demonstrated a professional interest and commitment to the subject or subjects to be studied, and
  • The goals and supervisory requirements applicable to all Penn Law Externships will be met. Proposals for Ad Hoc Externships based on personal reasons will not be approved.

5.  During the review of the proposal, the Externship Program may request additional information from the student, and/or contact the placement site with any questions. 

Credits Awarded

Except as provided herein below, Ad Hoc Externships are approved solely for four (4), five (5) or seven (7) academic credits per semester (yearlong externships may be permitted in rare circumstances).  A four credit Externship requires that the student work at the placement site on average 12 hours per week. A five credit Externship requires that the student work at the site on average 15 hours per week. A seven-credit Externship requires that the student work at the site on average 21 hours per week.  Please note that Judicial Externships are only approved for four credits.  

Students are required to start their Externship the week that the semester classes begin, and are required to work until the end of the examination period. Students may start working at their placement site before classes begin if they so desire, but credit will not be awarded for this time, and students will not be permitted to reduce the weekly hourly requirement for any time spent working before the semester begins.

Full-time Ad Hoc Externships for twelve (12) academic credits are rare, and will only be considered if the placement site requires this and no reasonably equivalent part-time externship is available. 

Students are generally not permitted to extern for academic credit more than one semester at the same placement site.

Judicial Externships

Students can pursue an Ad Hoc Externship with a federal or state judge within commuting distance of the law school.  Students may only earn four (4) academic credits for this externship, and only semester long externships are permitted. Academic credits earned in Judicial Externships may not be exchanged for Toll Public Interest Center pro bono credit.  All judicial externships must be performed entirely in person and no remote placements are permitted. Judicial externs will be required to attend a Judicial Externship Seminar course every other week during the semester that will be taught by Professor Barrett. Students do not need to enroll in this course during Advance Registration. A mutually convenient meeting date and time will be set closer to the start of the semester.

Students seeking approval of a Judicial Externship must submit a completed Judicial Externship Proposal Form before the deadline mentioned above in #2.  Students will also need to complete a Judicial Externship Statement of Understanding Form before the deadline mentioned above in #3.  

Reporting Requirements

Students will be required to submit to their faculty supervisor bi-weekly reflective journals of their Externship activities. Ad Hoc Externship students will also be required to attend a bi-weekly tutorial with their faculty supervisor, or enroll in an Externship Seminar class. 

Externship Travel Funding

In conjunction with University travel policies, the Law School is pleased to be able to offer travel funding to students for qualifying externships outside of Philadelphia in New York and Washington, DC.  The Law School will reimburse students for 90% of reasonable travel expenses they incur when traveling to these externship placement sites, up to a per-semester maximum of $2,700.  Students are responsible for the remaining 10% of the cost of their travel. We expect that students will consider using less expensive means of travel (i.e., bus) whenever feasible, and will reserve trips in advance to keep costs to a minimum. 

For qualifying externships in Philadelphia and its surrounding counties reachable through the SEPTA public transportation system, the Law School will provide SEPTA round-trip ticket cards. These cards will be available for to pick up in the Student Affairs Office at the beginning of each month.  Students accepting SEPTA tickets through this policy will be required to sign a form certifying that they are using the tickets to travel to externship placement sites. Use of tickets provided by the Law School and the externship travel policy are governed by the Code of Student Conduct.

Students do not have to submit an application for travel funding, and should direct any questions to externships@law.upenn.edu .

LLM Students

LLM students may not receive academic credit for externships. LLM students are eligible to participate and receive credit for a range of valuable experiential offerings.  Students can enroll for academic credit in one of the seats that are reserved for LLM students in the Detkin Intellectual Property & Technology Legal Clinic , the Transnational Legal Clinic , the Entrepreneurship Legal Clinic or the Mediation Clinic . Our experiential courses and seminars, many of which are open to LLM students, also provide valuable skills training.

International JD Students

CPT Requirement for F-1 J.D. Students

International JD students should e aware that all externships will require CPT authorization. Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is defined as “alternate work/study, internship, cooperative education, or any other type of required internship or practicum which is offered by sponsoring employers through cooperative agreements with the school.”

  1.  Once an externship offer has been secured, please submit a CPT Request form in iPenn to apply for authorization prior to the start of your externship.
  2. Once approved by the Law School and ISSS, you will receive an updated I-20 containing your CPT authorization.

Direct questions pertaining to CPT to your assigned ISSS advisor. You can find general CPT guidance here: https://global.upenn.edu/isss/cpt