Frequently Asked Questions

What is an externship and how does it differ from an internship?

An externship is a course in which a student works in a legal placement outside of the law school for academic credit. An internship may be a paid or volunteer position with an employer in which there is no academic credit awarded to the student.

Is an externship a required course?

No, externships are entirely elective and not required for graduation, although they are recommended as practical skills training for second and third year students.  Honors students must complete an externship or clinic as part of their graduation requirement.

How do I apply for an externship?

Please check Simplicity for current openings and submit your application materials (resume, cover letter, transcript, writing sample, as requested) through Simplicity for the externships available each semester. Check the important dates for deadlines throughout the year.  Some employers will schedule on-campus interviews to choose future externs (usually in the spring) and others will collect resumes and conduct interviews at the placement site.

If selected, how do I enroll for the externship?

You must complete a Registration form and get the appropriate signatures requested on the form, then take the form to the Registrar to add to your class schedule in DataVU.

Who should sign the forms to register?

The Associate Dean for Experiential Learning will sign the registration forms for students seeking to enroll in the field placement.

What is the deadline to enroll for an externship?

You must register for the externship prior to the drop/add deadline (one week after classes begin usually) for the semester in which you plan to participate. Download the form from Symplicity and obtain the proper signatures.  Registration must be completed in person with the Registrar after your form is complete; you are not able to register on DataVU on your own.

Will there be a class or orientation before I begin my externship?

Yes, plan to attend an orientation held during the first week of classes with Associate Dean for Experiential Learning to receive the semester syllabus and details on the guidelines for your externship during the semester and assignments that will be required. You will also be required to attend a mid-term conference and final debriefing conducted by the Associate Dean for Experiential Learning.

How many externship credits can I get per semester and how many hours are required per externship?

Depending upon the semester, you are able to earn 1 – 6 credit hours. You are limited to three (3) credits per externship enrolled per semester (only one externship per semester), during the fall and spring semester. From 1 – 6 credits may be earned through field placements completed during the summer. You must work 45 hours for each externship credit (1=45  2 = 90, 3 = 135).  A two-credit externship requires approximately 6.5 hours each week at the site and a three-credit externship requires almost 10 hours of work each week, based on a 13-week semester.

What if my externship and class schedule overlap?

You must schedule your extern hours so they do not conflict with your class schedule. Arrange your extern schedule with your field supervisor as soon as you have been chosen for an externship. It is ideal if you have one or two days each week with no classes or a period of 4-5 hours free at least two days each week.  You may not count your hours in travel as part of your required hours.

How many externships may I participate in during my three years of law school?

A student may complete nine (9) cumulative hours of extern credits while enrolled at Valparaiso Law.  You must complete your first year (or a total of 30 credit hours) before you can enroll in an externship.  Note: You may not complete the same or similar externship in two different semesters.  For example:  If you work for one state judge in the fall semester, you are then ineligible to gain academic credit as an extern for the same or another state judge in a subsequent semester. The same applies to local county prosecutors, public defenders, U.S. Attorney’s Offices, etc. Also, after you have been granted academic credit one semester, you may NOT stay with an employer an additional semester and gain academic credit again for the same employer. If you choose to stay and work as a volunteer or count the hours for pro bono, that is acceptable.  The Federal Judge Program is an exception as it was established to be a full-year externship with three credits awarded each semester to 3L participants.

How many different externship sites are there to choose from?

Presently, there are more than 150 discrete and more than 200 sites available when you consider the number of state and federal judges, prosecutors, government entities that select Valparaiso Law externs.

Are the externships only offered locally or available in other regions?

The externship sites are located all over the country, from California to New York, although the majority of sites are located in the Midwest to allow students to participate during the semester, in addition to, completing coursework at the law school.

Can I receive payment or a stipend for my externship?

Are travel and accommodations reimbursed? You may not be compensated in ANY fashion for an externship. Your travel and parking costs are your responsibility and travel is not counted as part of your time logged. You may not receive SPIS or EJA scholarships if you are receiving academic credit.

Do the externships have specific pre- or co-requisites?

Many extern sites have course pre- or co-requisites, specifically the Federal Judge Program and the various prosecutors’ office externships. Please see the list of approved externships  on Symplicity or the Law Bulletin for further details.  NOTE:  The U.S. Attorney’s Office externship requires that candidates must be a U.S. citizen and pass an extensive security/background check before approval.

May I accept one externship and then decline it if I am offered a “more prestigious position” later with another employer?

Please note that once you have accepted an externship or position for a specific semester, you are not eligible to accept an offer from another employer and decline to fulfill that prior commitment. This is a strict violation of professionalism and ethical behavior.

May I participate in Clinic and an externship in the same semester?

In most cases, clinics would be a conflict of interest with an externship.  You must speak with your Clinic faculty and field supervisor to determine if there is a conflict and whether you would need to withdraw from your externship. Please speak with both supervisors early in the process, so there may be time to fill your vacated externship position, if needed.

Can I complete an externship in the summer?

Many extern supervisors select candidates for each of the three semesters, including summer. Often, the summer offers more opportunities as other students would prefer to work in a paid position during the summer. Please note that summer externships require you pay for each credit hour individually, rather than with full- or part-time tuition during the fall or spring semesters.  The tuition for extern credit is typically less than for a summer lecture course. See the Registrar’s Summer Domestic program information for tuition charges related to externships.

May I choose to accept the Summer Public Interest Stipend (SPIS) instead of taking an externship for academic credit?

No, if you are selected for one of the approved externships, you are ineligible to apply for the SPIS that summer to work with an extern employer.  See the information above regarding summer externship tuition.

Are there details I can receive from upper-class students who have participated in previous externships?

If you would like to talk with students who participated in a specific externship, please contact Derrick Howard for names of students with previous experience at the site.

How do I propose an externship of my own choice?

See the Associate Dean for Experiential Learning for a New Externship Proposal form and further details.  The deadline for NEW proposals (that have not been approved by the Law School) to be considered for the following semester is one month prior to the end of that semester’s classes and mid-April  is the deadline for new summer and fall externship consideration. This time frame is established so the Associate Dean for Experiential Learning has time to review the proposal and determine if the site should be approved.

Externship Contact

Derrick Howard
Associate Dean for Experiential Learning
510 Freeman Street, RM 103B
Valparaiso, IN 46383
Phone:    219-465-7864