General Information and Guidelines
Placement Sites and Learning Objectives
At Florida State College of Law, externships are available at government, not-for-profit, and in-house corporate counsel law offices. To ensure educational quality, every placement is approved by the school’s Curriculum Committee. Hundreds of sites have been approved and are listed on the externship website in Program Descriptions. Many of these approved placements host externs every semester and, as a result, have attorney supervisors who are experienced teachers as well as good lawyers. Some, such as the state attorney, public defender, courts, local government, federal agencies, and legal services, have multiple locations available. For specific information about a placement, read the written description of it in Program Descriptions. Pay close attention to the learning objectives, which describe what a student will do and learn there. Simply because a placement is listed as an approved externship site, does not mean a student is guaranteed an externship there; a student still must apply and be accepted. Also, while we try to stay current, some placement site information may be outdated. If information is incorrect, please contact the externship program assistant at 850-644-1432. For information about how to create an externship at a new placement, see Self-Initiated Externships, below.
Credits, Work Hours, Enrolling in Other Classes while Externing
The credits awarded for an externship are determined by the law school’s Curriculum Committee based on what the student will learn at the placement. Some placements have high and low credit options. Once credits are set, then required work hours are assigned. Eventually, after a student has applied and been accepted, the student and placement supervisor jointly decide the student’s work schedule. In the summer, many placements require fewer work weeks and more hours per week. In addition to working at the placement, most externships have weekly written assignments and live or online class meetings. To ensure students can meet their case-related responsibilities at the placement, there is a cap on the total number of credits a student may take while externing. Below are general guidelines. For specific information about credits, work hours, and class requirements for a particular placement, see the written description of that placement.
Three and four credit programs require a student to work 182 hours over 13 weeks, working 14 hours per week. Students may not take more than 15 total credits.
Six credit programs require a student to work 260 hours over 13 weeks, working 20 hours per week in blocks of at least 3 hours. Students may not take more than 15 total credits.
Nine credit programs require a student to work 390 hours over 13 weeks, working 30 hours per week. Students may not take more than 12 total credits.
Twelve credit programs require a student to work 520 hours over 13 weeks, working 40 hours per week. No other courses may be taken with a 12 credit program. Externs may receive credit for co-curricular activities (for example, journals, moot court, or mock trial) with prior approval from the faculty supervisor.
*Summer externships also are available. Work hours and weeks differ by placement and are included in each placement description.
Weeks of Work Req’d
Work Hours/Week Req’d
Total Work Hours Req’d
Total Credits Allowed while Externing
Schneider Electric Corp.
FSU Office of IP Development
Appellate Advocacy (All)
Fla. Housing Finance Corp.
Innocence Project of Fla.
North Fla. Center for Equal Justice
Regional Conflict Counsel
State Attorney/Public Defender
State and Federal Agencies
Regional Conflict Counsel
State Attorney/Public Defender
Fla. Dept. of Children and Families
State Attorney/Public Defender
State Attorney/Public Defender
Prerequisite Courses, Eligibility to become a Certified Legal Intern
Most externships require advanced knowledge and skills and are available only to students who have completed prerequisite courses. A few externships, listed below, do not require any prerequisite courses and are available to students who have completed their 1L year.
Externships Available after 1L Year
Many externships do not require certification, but if a student will engage in the practice of law (for example, appear in court or deposition, sign pleadings, or give legal advice), the law school must request the Florida Supreme Court to certify the student as a certified legal intern. To be eligible for certification, a student must have completed 48 credits and must have applied to the Florida Bar and passed the Bar’s character and fitness screening. See How to Plan for and Choose an Externship, Practicing as a Certified Legal Intern, and the Spreadsheet of Externship Placements for more information about prerequisites and certification.
Externship courses are graded satisfactory/unsatisfactory. For most externships, students are registered for two courses: a Clinic course, based on performance at the placement office, and a Perspectives course, based on written assignments and participation in class.
Coordinating Externships with Other School Requirements
All externship courses and many of the prerequisite courses for externships are ungraded. A total of 88 credits are necessary for graduation. If a student spends all three years at FSU, 66 credits must be graded and 22 may be ungraded. If a student transferred to FSU from another law school, three-fourths of the credits completed at FSU must be graded, and one-fourth may be ungraded. Each transfer student receives a letter from the dean specifying the number of ungraded credits the student has available. A student who wants to take an externship should take care not to accumulate too many other ungraded credits.
Taking an Externship in your Final Semester
The law school encourages students who have completed externships to return to campus and enrich classroom discussions with the insights they gained from real practice. Thus, the school limits the number of externship credits that a student may take in the last semester. Specifically, a student
- may take an externship up to 6 credits (and may take additional courses on campus or on line);
- may take an externship up to 9 credits if the student remains in the local area and takes another 2 or 3 credit course;
- may not take a 12-credit externship.
Exceptions are granted only in the most extraordinary and compelling circumstances, so a student who wants to take an externship for more than 6 credits in the last semester must plan ahead.
Total Externship/Clinic Credits
A maximum of 15 externship credits or 18 clinic credits (externship courses combined with courses at the Public Interest Law Center) may be applied toward graduation. Prerequisite courses, such as Professor Krieger’s Criminal Practice Clinic, do not count towards this total.
A student must complete a skills training course to graduate. Most externships qualify as a skills training course, but some, for example Judicial Clerk and U.S. Attorney placements, do not. Read the written description of the specific placement for this information.
A student must complete 20 hours of pro bono legal work to graduate. Many externship placements also are approved pro bono sites, and a student may be permitted to “add on” pro bono hours to an externship. See the list of Pre-Approved Pro Bono Sites for more information, and request approval for this from the faculty and placement supervisor.
Students must have 6 semesters of residence to graduate. Externship credits are treated the same as other credits for this purpose. In the fall, spring and summer, a 12-credit externship receives 1.0 residency credit, a 9-credit externship receives 0.75, and a 6-credit externship receives 0.5. Students participating in a 9 or 6 credit externship may enroll in additional courses to earn additional residency credits. Consult the Academic Rules, Policies and Procedures or contact the Office of the Registrar at 850.644.3288 or email@example.com with questions.
In the fall, spring, and summer, a student must be enrolled in at least 6 credits to receive federal financial aid (i.e., loans and grants). Externship credits are treated the same as other credits for this purpose. The total amount of aid awarded may vary depending upon the number of credits, length, and location of an externship, and a student may be requested to submit a budget showing projected costs. Contact the Student Affairs office at 850.644.7338 or firstname.lastname@example.org with questions.
Compensation for Externship Work & Travel Expenses
ABA rules prohibit law students from being paid for services rendered in a credit-earning program. A student working outside the Tallahassee area may receive reimbursement for the cost of travel and relocation if it is offered by the placement site or a charitable donor, but this is uncommon.
Doing Other Legal Work while Externing
Engaging in other legal work while externing generally is discouraged because of potential conflicts of interest and the time demands of the case work. Specific rules are below.
- High-credit (9-12) externship: A student may not have other legal employment, but may be approved for other nonlegal employment in the evenings and weekends, up to a maximum of 8 hours per week, with approval of the faculty supervisor and site supervisor.
- Part-time (6 credits or less) externship: A student may be permitted to have other legal employment with the approval of the faculty supervisor, placement supervisor, and outside employment office supervisor.
- Judicial Clerk externship: A student may not do other legal work, either paid or pro bono, while taking a judicial program. The Second Circuit Court and DOAH are exceptions and may allow other legal work with the approval of the faculty supervisor, placement supervisor, and other employment office supervisor. A student may work as a faculty research assistant while doing a judicial externship.
- A student may not take more than one externship in a semester.
- A student may not take an externship and a course at the Public Interest Law Center in the same semester.
A student may not receive credit for two externships that teach the same essential material. Where the material somewhat overlaps, the second externship will award 50% credit with a 25% reduction in work hours. Specific examples are below.
Two State Attorney/Public Defender: Restrictions apply; see the program descriptions.
Two Appellate Advocacy: Not allowed.
Two Judicial Clerk:
- A student may not take two externships at trial courts. There is one exception: a student may take a trial court and bankruptcy court externship. The second externship will award 3 credits and require 15 hours of work/week.
- A student may not take two externships at appellate courts.
- A student may take a trial court and an appellate court externship. The second externship will award 3 credits and require 15 hours of work/week.
Judicial Clerk & Appellate Advocacy:
- A student may take a Judicial Clerk externship at a trial court and an Appellate Advocacy program for full credit.
- A student may take a Judicial Clerk externship at an appellate court and an Appellate Advocacy program. The second externship will award 50% credit and have a 25% reduction in work hours.
Externship & PILC: To the extent that a learning experience at PILC overlaps with an externship, credit reductions may apply. Students must obtain the approval of both faculty supervisors.
The Relationship between an Externship and an Internship
“Externship” is the term used by the law school (and ABA) for a faculty supervised, unpaid work experience at a law office or court, for which a student earns academic credit. The law school sets the requirements for an externship, just as it does for every course. When a placement site accepts an extern, it agrees to provide an experience that satisfies the school’s externship requirements. A student applies to do an externship by submitting an FSU COL externship application to the school’s externship office during the school’s application period.
Many placements sites have their own “internship” programs. Sometimes these internship requirements mirror the school’s externship requirements. Other times, the internship imposes more requirements, such as extra work hours. As a condition of accepting a student as an FSU extern, the placement may require the student to fulfill the office’s additional internship requirements. The placement also may require the student to submit an internship application to the placement by a deadline set by the placement.
Visiting students may not participate in a 9 or 12 credit externship. A visiting student who is enrolled in other coursework at the College may apply for an externship of up to 6 credits. Acceptance is based on space and resources.
Immigration rules require non-US citizens who want to do an externship (referred to as an internship by Immigration rules) to apply for Curricular Practical Training Authorization (CPT). The International Center, Division of Student Affairs, can be reached at 850.644.1702 or 850.644.9951 or on the Web at http://ic.fsu.edu for assistance with completing the CPT application form.
A student who would like to do a for-credit externship at a placement not yet approved and listed in the Program Description materials should schedule a meeting to discuss the possibility with one of the externship faculty, Professor Krieger or Professor Gertz, at least three months before the student’s proposed start date. In general, the new site being proposed must be a government, not for profit, or in-house corporate counsel law office, and the work proposed must be legal work supervised by a lawyer. Other factors that will be considered include:
- Will this externship teach skills besides legal research and writing? Will students have the opportunity to perform other lawyering tasks?
- Does this externship involve an area of substantive law not available in a law school course?
- Are there already-approved placements in the same geographic area with extern positions available that teach this material as well or better?
- Will future students want to enroll in this externship?
- Will supervision by the externship faculty add significant value to the experience (as opposed to the student doing it as a volunteer or as a research internship)?
- Could a faculty member effectively supervise an externship at this office?
If the externship faculty member believes that the proposal should go forward, the professor, student, and proposed site supervisor must jointly draft a proposal to the Curriculum Committee, which will vote on whether to approve the externship and, if it is approved, determine the number of credits to award. Once credits are set, then work hours are assigned.