Clinical externship (off-campus) programs allow students to earn academic credit while assuming the role of attorney or judicial clerk in the litigation and adjudication of real cases. Students may be placed in government agencies, judicial settings, State Attorney, Public Defender, Legal Aid and public interest offices. Placements are located in Tallahassee, throughout Florida, and in other U.S. locations. We also offer international placement. Each program has both an academic and a clinical segment. A faculty supervisor oversees the academic segment, which provides perspective and trains the student in self-reflection and critical analysis of the institutions, processes, lawyering skills, and ethical issues related to the specific externship. A placement supervisor at the office location provides the clinical segment. The placement supervisor gives case assignments and assists/critiques the student to assure effective handling of the casework.
The programs are generally open to students who have completed 48 credits of law studies. Enrollment for each placement is limited and occasionally is competitive. Selection of students is determined by the faculty supervisor, often in conjunction with the office where the student is to be placed.
Programs award from 3-12 credits. All 4-12 credit programs are divided into two courses: a Clinic course and a Perspectives course (9-12 credit programs include a 2-credit Perspectives course; 4-6 credit programs include a 1-credit Perspectives course). The Clinic course is graded pass/fail and is based on performance at the placement office. The Perspectives course is graded pass/fail, with an honors (S+) and low pass (S-) option, and is based on required weekly reporting, participation in periodic seminars, and submission of written reports and papers. Failure to satisfactorily complete the Perspectives course may result in a “U” grade for the Clinic course.
Graded Credits, Residency Credits
Students must successfully complete 66 graded credits to graduate from the law school. A total of 88 credits are necessary for graduation. Students must have six residency semesters to graduate. Residency semesters may be partially satisfied by summer credits. Check with the registrar's office for details.
Certified Student Practice
Many of the extern programs involve the practice of law, and those students are certified (CLI status) for such practice by the Florida Supreme Court pursuant to the Student Practice Rule, Chapter 11, Rules of The Florida Bar. The certification process is coordinated by the externship program office. To be certified (CLI status), a student must:
Background Information, Disclosures, and Placement
- have completed legal studies amounting to four semesters for which he/she has received not less than 48 semester credits (Note: a minimum of 6 credits is required during the summer term to count as a semester for this purpose.);
- be certified by the Dean as being of good character and competent legal ability and as being adequately trained to perform as a legal extern;
- certify in writing that he/she has read and is familiar with the Rules of Professional Conduct as adopted by the Florida Supreme Court and will abide by these provisions; and
- apply to The Florida Bar and obtain The Florida Bar Board of Bar Examiners' Clearance Certificate.
With regard to the "good character" requirement, as part of any externship or Criminal Practice Clinic application, a student should disclose any investigation, formal complaint, disciplinary action of any kind (school, work, etc.), any lawsuit or agency action initiated against the student, any juvenile or criminal charge, and other information that could be deemed relevant to a student’s character. For each incident, provide facts, dates, and dispositions (if any). Students with questions should discuss them with the extern coordinator.
Information which potentially bears on an applicant’s character, professionalism, or ability to consistently interact in a harmonious, respectful and effective manner with other students and with personnel at the placement office will be considered in determining whether to accept a student into the Criminal Practice Clinic class and externship program. Two levels of acceptance are required for placement. First, the faculty supervisor must determine that the student is acceptable for the program. Given the professional nature of the program and its reliance on outside supervision, doubts will generally be resolved in favor of non-placement. If the student is accepted by the faculty supervisor, each student then also must be accepted by the placement supervisor, after the faculty supervisor has disclosed all information which in his/her judgment is relevant to the decision.
Chapter 11 of the Rules Regulating the Florida Bar provides that new graduates may be certified for law practice in public interest or public agency settings before their admission into the Bar, for up to one year after graduation from law school. This rule requires previous certification, and successful completion of a clinical program during law school. Such certification may assist new graduates seeking employment in the public interest sector before admission to the Bar. Many, but not all, externship placements require certification.
Responsibilities as an Externship Applicant
You must keep the College of Law externship office informed of any changes in the information you provided on your externship application, including contact information and intention to enroll in the externship. If you decide to withdraw your application, you must give immediate written notice (but in no case less than 30 days before the beginning of the externship semester) to the externship office. Lack of such notice demonstrates a significant lack of consideration for administration of the program and for the site office that is expecting you, and may result in a Letter of Concern to your student file.