Academic year externships may be arranged on a part-time, local basis or on a full-time semester away basis.  Students earn one academic credit for every 50 hours worked in their placement.  In addition, during the academic year, students are required to enroll in the accompanying field placement seminar class or tutorial, which earns an additional two credits.

In addition to externships that have been pre-arranged and approved by the Field Placement Program, students may seek approval for externships that they locate for academic credit.  These externships are intended to provide experiential learning opportunities for students who have demonstrated strong interest in a specific subject area that is not met in the current experiential learning curriculum. 

Students interested in such a placement should contact the Field Placement Director, Prof. June Tai, as soon as possible to discuss the necessary approval process. 

Frequently Asked Questions:

  • Who can participate in a Field Placement? 

    • Field placements are open to J.D. students that have completed their first year of law school.  All first year courses in the J.D. program must have been successfully completed.

  • When should I enroll in a field placement?

    • Field placements during the summer through the Summer Legal Placement program are specially designed for students who have just completed their 1L year.

    • During the academic year, students should consider the timing and requirements of their other coursework, co-curricular, and extra-curricular activities.  They should also consider if there are any prerequisites or preferred coursework that would help prepare for the placement.  In addition, for those field placements that involve court appearances, keep in mind the Iowa Student Practice Rule only permits students to appear in court after they have completed three (3) semesters of law school.  Students interested in externships in other jurisdictions should review the relevant student practice rule.

  • Do I just apply through the Symplicity?

    • For pre-approved field placements, the Field Placement Program coordinates and collects applications using Symplicity twice a year for academic year placements  and once a year for summer placements.  Some placements, such as the U.S. Attorney’s Office, will have a separate application process and additional requirements procedures, such as background checks.  Those opportunities will be announced on Symplicity under “jobs.”  And remember, you can also initiate your own field placement for a full semester away from the law school.  Be sure to discuss with Prof. Tai beforehand. 

  • Am I paid in my field placement?

    • Students may not receive reimbursement for compensation for their field placement.  However, a student may receive reimbursement for reasonable out of pocket expenses incurred as a result of participation in the field placement and may also accept grants, scholarships, or stipends from the College or sources other than the field placement itself.  If the placement site or anyone outside of the law school offers to fund expenses related to your field placement, before accepting these funds, please contact the Field Placement Director to determine if this is permitted.

  • Do I have to complete ___ number of hours?  Do I have to be there all summer or all semester?

    • You commit to a minimum number of hours for your field placement when you enroll.  During the summer term, you must complete at least 150 hours over the course of at least six weeks.  Most students stay longer and exceed the minimum amount in order to obtain as much experience as possible. 

    • During the academic year, students are encouraged to complete at least 200 hours of work over the course of the semester in order to obtain a sufficiently immersive experience.  Students should start working at their placement site by the first week of classes and the field placement must continue through the semester to the last week of classes

  • Can I enroll in both clinic and externship in the same semester?

    • No, you may only enroll in clinic OR externship in the given semester. 

  • I accepted an externship, but now I want to take a different class/clinic/journal board/a paid job.  Can I withdraw?

    • Please keep in mind that if you apply to and accept an externship, you have committed to participating in the externship.  Our field supervisors volunteer their time to review applications and prepare for students’ participation.  Withdrawing from an externship after accepting has consequences, and potentially takes opportunities from your classmates and future students.

  • Can I extern at the same field placement for a second semester?

    • It depends.  We encourage you to use this opportunity to try different types of work in different legal settings as that will add to your perspectives and professional identity.  If you would like to return to the same field placement, you must work with your supervisor to identify the types of opportunities you will have that are different, unique, and advanced beyond the opportunities you had the first semester.  A third semester at the same placement is not allowed.  You may  choose to volunteer at the placement, without academic credit, at any time. 

  • I really want to do this.  How do I get started?

    • Make an appointment with Professor Tai to discuss.  There are many things to keep in mind as you apply for a field placement and a counseling session is required to ensure a good fit for your educational goals.