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Externships

Valuable Experience

The goal of the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School’s Externship Program is to supplement traditional classroom study and experiential study obtained through clinical courses by providing external opportunities for students to observe and participate meaningfully in lawyering at government agencies, non-profit organizations and with federal and state judges. Externships are intended to offer students in-depth study in substantive areas, supplement experiential study provided in clinical courses, and explore experiential study of subjects or activities not currently offered experientially in the curriculum. Through such study, the program hopes to enhance the development of a broad range of lawyering skills, advance personal career goals, enable critical reflection of the legal profession and legal institutions, encourage self-directed learning through reflection, and promote core competencies and professional values that produce skilled and ethical lawyers and professionals in our society. 

Close Supervision

Within the Law School, students participate in biweekly meetings with with their faculty supervisor through individual tutorials or in an Externship Seminar course where they have an opportunity to discuss and reflect upon broader lawyering issues involving professional responsibility, delivery of services, legal institutions, lawyering competence, client relations, and other related issues that arise in each setting. Outside the Law School, students meet regularly with their externship supervisors to receive feedback on the important legal work they perform at their placement site.

Wide Array of Placements

The Law School’s unique geographic location, situated in the nation’s most historic legal center and within easy reach of New York City and Washington DC, offers students unparalleled externship opportunities to be at the forefront of legal practice in the nation’s most prominent government offices and non-profit organizations. 

In order to match program offerings with student interest, the Law School offers two different types of externships: Gittis Externships and Ad Hoc Externships.  

Both types of Externships are one semester in length and generally are offered for either four, five or seven academic credits, and are considered “co-curricular credits” for degree requirement purposes. All externships are graded as Pass/Fail. All students must have successfully completed at least one year of law school before they can enroll in an externship. All externships start during the first week of classes each semester, and continue through the end of the examination period, and benefit from flexibility in student schedules.

Students are generally not permitted to extern for academic credit more than one semester at the same placement site. Students enrolled in non profit and government externships may drop one academic credit in exchange for fulfilling 35 hours of Toll Public Interest Center credit.  

Externship Handbooks are distributed to all students at the beginning of each semester who are enrolled in an externship placement. The handbook offers a more comprehensive program overview, discusses academic standards and requirements, and many other details. Students who are not enrolled in an externship, but who would like to receive a copy of the handbook can e-mail externships@law.upenn.edu .

International JD students seeking to pursue externships, please click here for more information on Curricular Practical Training (CPT) requirements.

Gittis Externships:

Gittis Externships consist of pre-approved/standing externships offered in government and non-profit organizations in the Philadelphia area. Upper level students enroll in Gittis Externships by bidding on these placements during the normal Advance Course Registration period, and students do not need to find a faculty supervisor as one has already been assigned. Most Gittis Externships are open to both second and third year students; third year students are given enrollment priority in Gittis externships during the normal Advance Course Registration bidding process. Note that certain Gittis Externships require a separate application, and the placement site selects which students to enroll. Please see list below.

Although the list of Gittis Externships can vary from semester to semester, recent Gittis Externships have included the placements listed below. 

Gittis Externships requiring a separate application process

These placements have an early application deadline and require students to apply as opposed to enrolling via the Advance Registration lottery. For these externships, students must submit their application materials to the Law School Externship program by 5 PM on May 10, 2021, rather than contacting/applying directly to the placement site. However, the placement site selects which students to enroll. Please click on the links for more specific application information for each of the Gittis externships below: 

Gittis Externships requiring enrollment via the Advance Registration lottery:

  • Community Legal Services
  • Conviction Integrity Unit of Phila. DA’s Office
  • Pennsylvania Innocence Project
  • Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office (3L’s in the Fall and 2L’s & 3L’s in the Spring)
  • Senior Law Center
  • Women’s Law Project

Travel Funding:

In conjunction with University travel policies, the Law School is pleased to be able to offer travel funding to students for qualifying Ad Hoc 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 Gittis and Ad Hoc 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 .

Ad Hoc Externships:

Students also have the flexibility to create and propose their own Externship with a governmental or non-profit organization via the Ad Hoc Externship program, and students are required here to secure their own faculty supervisor.  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 current curriculum. More details regarding Ad Hoc Externships can be found here .