The Mississippi College School of Law externship program places students in pre-approved legal placements to work directly with an assigned field supervisor. The placements are in a wide variety of non-profit, government, and public interest organizations. The program is under the supervision of a faculty member and includes a weekly substantive classroom component.
Why participate in the externship program? An externship offers excellent on-the-job experience. It gives you legal work experience for your resume. An externship allows you to experience a practice area before you graduate, or fulfill a desire to perform public interest legal work. Finally, an Externship provides networking resources that can continue after you graduate.
- Externship courses are offered in the fall, spring and summer semesters.
- Students may enroll in an externship after completing at least 45 academic hours. Thus, many 2L students may enroll in an externship in the spring semester of the second year of law school.
- Placements are made in agencies and offices throughout the Jackson Metropolitan area. Placements are made in a variety of practice areas. Placements are limited to public interest externships. Students may not extern with for-profit organizations or private law firms.
- All externs are placed under the supervision of an attorney.
- Externs must work a minimum of 135 hours at the placement during the semester. Generally this requires a time commitment of 10 hours per week. It is highly recommended that externs arrange a class schedule that allows for two days or large blocks of time for the student to attend the externship.
- 3L students in certain externships may be sworn in to appear in court, pursuant to the Mississippi Law Student Limited Practice Act, Miss. Code Ann. § 73-3-201 et seq.
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For more information contact:
Professor Meta Copeland
Director of Experiential Learning
The legal externship program at Mississippi College School of Law consists of three options: a three (3) hour local externship course, a three (3) hour remote externship course, and a six (6) hour remote externship course. Externships are available to any student who has completed at least 45 academic credit hours. Generally, a student has sufficient academic credits to extern beginning in the spring semester of his or her 2L year. 1L students may not participate in the legal externship program.
The local externship course places students in legal placements in Jackson and the surrounding areas. Local externs must work a minimum of 135 hours at the placement (usually 10-12 hours per week). Students are encouraged to arrange a class schedule that allows for two open days to devote to working at the externship. Students also attend a weekly class that will meet at the law school. There is no required textbook and no exam. The local externship course is a three (3) hour, pass/fail class. No six hour local externship is offered. Students wishing to take a local externship should fill out an application, return the completed application and resume to Meta Copeland, and Professor Copeland will match the student with an appropriate placement.
Through the remote externship course, students may extern out-of-state or outside the Hinds/Madison/Rankin County area. remote externs must work a minimum of 135 hours for a three (3) hour placement and 270 hours for a six (6) hour placement. Students also attend a weekly class that will meet virtually through TWEN, and must submit weekly journals. There will also be a mandatory seminar for all remote externs at the law school in the semester before the remote externship which will also count toward class credit. There is no required textbook and no exam. The remote externship class is a pass/fail class.
Students wishing to take a remote externship do not fill out the local externship application. Interested students should contact Meta Copeland to discuss particular areas of interest. The student will be responsible for securing his or her externship placement, after consultation with Professor Copeland.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Do I Apply for a Local Externship?
- Look at the approved placements list in the Legal Extern Guide and write down the placements that interest you the most. Please note that some placements require an interview, background check, or have other screening requirements. Where possible, pre-requisites are listed behind the field placement.
- Update your one page resume and upload it to Symplicity. Then complete your on-line application for an externship. The externship application is a Google form. The link is available on the externship web page, http://law.mc.edu/academics/externships/.
- Completed applications for summer and fall 2015 will be accepted beginning on Feb. 3rd. After you apply, Professor Copeland will meet individually with you to determine the best placement for your needs.
- Placements for summer 2015 will be made beginning on a rolling basis throughout the semester. Fall placements will be made over the summer. The placement process has many parts and can take time. Thank you for your patience. You will be notified when you are placed.
- Some externship placements require a background check. This includes most federal externships (e.g. – judges, US Attorney, Federal Bureau of Prisons, Federal Public Defender, HUD, and Bankruptcy Trustee) and some state agencies and non-profit organizations (e.g. – MS Bureau of Narcotics, Southern Poverty Law Center). If you are interested in an externship with one of these placements, please apply as soon as possible.
Why Must I Include a Resume with my Extern Application?
Your potential local externship placement will review your resume when evaluating you for an externship. Your resume must be one page. The vast majority of law students can create a concise, one page resume that effectively summarizes your relevant educational and work experience. A reference page may follow, but it must be limited to references only.
You may need a two page resume, in the following circumstances: (1) you are preparing a resune for a national public interest advocacy organization and have a lengthy history of community service work; or (2) you have had a substantial post-graduate career that spans more than five years. If you submit a two page resume (excluding a reference page), you must first receive approval of Sherry Johnson, Director of Career Services, and you must email me to confirm that Ms. Johnson has approved your use of a two page resume.
What is an Interest Statement?
Your local externship application must include an Interest Statement. This is a short statement (usually one paragraph) describing your rationale and any information that is relevant to the placement choices you have selected. If you have a pre-existing interest in a particular type of legal practice or a known interest in doing a certain type of work, your interest statement should reflect that. If you don’t know what you want to do after law school but you believe that a particular externship experience might help you decide, it is perfectly acceptable to state this as a reason for your externship choices.
How am I matched with a placement?
Local externships are made through an in-house application and matching process. First, Professor Copeland will review your application. Then you will meet with Professor Copeland to discuss your application in more detail. At that time, Professor Copeland will discuss your reasons for taking an externship, along with any minimum requirements or preferences of potential placements. Some placements have few limitations, but some have fairly rigid standards. (Where a placement has such requirements, those are noted in the list of approved externships in this Externship Guide.) Professor Copeland will submit your resume to the placement that you ultimately select. All placements make the final decision on whether to take the student as an extern.
Generally, a remote extern will secure his or her own placement, after consultation with Professor Copeland. Thus there is no matching for remote externs.
Can I Get My Own Placement?
All local placements must be approved by Professor Copeland. If you have already accepted a volunteer position, you must speak to Professor Copeland regarding externship approval. A proposed placement must be with a judge, non-profit organization or government agency with a full-time attorney on staff; you must volunteer under the supervision of that mentor-attorney; you must participate in the usual legal work of the organization; and the organization must agree to the terms and conditions of the MC Law Legal Extern Program. You must meet with Professor Copeland to discuss your proposed placement, and Professor Copeland will follow up with the organization to ensure that it meets the requirements of the MC Law Legal Extern Program. You must provide this information in ample time for Professor Copeland to assess your proposed placement before the semester begins. Do not assume that academic credit will be given.
Can I Get Credit for Volunteering Somewhere During a Semester When I Was Not Registered for the Externship Program?
NO. A student may receive academic credit only by following the externship application procedure and registering for an externship course by the Drop/Add deadline. Students who do not enroll in the externship course will not receive academic credit for volunteer work performed during the semester.
Can I Secure an Externship Placement and then Choose to Not Register for the Externship Course and Not Receive Academic Credit for the Placement?
NO. If you use the services of the externship program, you will be registered for the appropriate Externship course. The approved externship placements are created and monitored by Professor Copeland in conjunction with mentor-attorneys. The expectation of the mentor-attorneys is that student externs will be part of the MC Law Legal Extern Program.
Can I Get Paid and Still Get Academic Credit?
NO. The American Bar Association prohibits a student from receiving academic credit for a placement if the student receives compensation from that placement.
Can I Take More Than One Externship Course?
Usually, yes. A student may take up to six (6) credit hours of externships. This may be done by taking one six hour remote externship, or a combination of three hour local and/or remote externships. A student may take only one externship in a semester. A student who takes a six hour remote externship may not take a second externship course. Under no circumstances may a student take more than six hours of externships.
Can I Repeat an Externship or Take Two Externships in the Same Practice Area?
It is recommended that students try a variety of placements. As a general rule, a student cannot repeat the same externship placement in a subsequent semester. However, in some circumstances it may be advantageous for students to concentrate in a certain substantive area or to contrast two work environments such as working with a state court judge and then a federal district judge, or working at a prosecutor’s office and then with a public defender office. Placement decisions will be made by Professor Copeland on a case by case basis.
Are There Any Pre or Co-Requisites for the Externship Course?
It is STRONGLY recommended that students wishing to be in the criminal externships take Evidence, Criminal Procedure, and Trial Advocacy as pre or co-requisites. Individual placements may require or prefer students to take related courses as pre or co-requisites. For example, the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality prefers a student who has already taken Environmental Law and bankruptcy placements have a strong preference for Externs who have taken a bankruptcy course.
Am I Guaranteed to Receive a Placement that I Select on My Externship Application?
Usually, YES. Professor Copeland reserves the right to match students with prospective placements and endeavors to place students in the placements in which they indicate an interest. However, there may be numerous students with similar or related interests, and some placements have requirements that are not met by all interested applicants. After conferring with the student, Professor Copeland reserves the right to send a student’s resume to the placement which seems to be the best “match”. You will not be assigned a placement that you have not consented to take. [This answer applies to local externships only.]
Can I Start Working at My Placement Before the Semester Starts?
NO. Extern hours may not be worked in advance of the semester that you receive academic credit for the externship.
Can I Continue to Look for Other Externships or a Paid Job After I Apply for an Externship?
NO. When you submit a completed externship application, you are asking Professor Copeland to place you in an externship. Your commitment is not final when you submit your application. However, once you meet with Professor Copeland and select a placement, then you are certifying that you will accept the externship that Professor Copeland arranges for you.
Can I Accept an Externship Placement Offer and Withdraw Later if I Get a Job That I Like Better?
NO. Once you accept an externship, you must honor the commitment you made to that placement. It is unprofessional behavior to decline to honor your commitment. Any such behavior reflects badly upon the Law School, the MC Law Legal Extern Program, and yourself. A student who withdraws from an externship waives the opportunity to participate in a future externship.