St. Mary's School of Law 1 Camino Santa MariaSan Antonio, TX 78228 +1-210-436-3011 St. Mary's School of Law logo St. Mary's University

The Basics

Practice Credit Program Associate Director Amanda Rivas speaks with students.The Externship Program allows law students to earn credit while working at a nonprofit, government agency or select in-house counsel. The program provides an opportunity for law students (2L or 3L) to earn academic credit for practical work experience and to help students better understand classroom work and the relationship between legal doctrine and practical legal skills.

Students secure a placement, with a non-profit, government agency or select in-house counsel. An externship semester requires 150 hours of work at the placement site, plus 15-20 hours of curriculum (see Syllabi tab for curriculum details), to earn three experiential learning credits. The course requires a 10 week minimum commitment All placements must have a qualified supervising attorney to assign, give feedback, or evaluation student work.

The curriculum requirements include:

  • Completion of time sheets tracking time spent at the job
  • Reflective essays
  • Evaluations by supervising attorneys of student progress during the term
  • Attend (2) classes, (2) small group meetings, and a Faculty check-in

The program results in a pass/fail grade.

For more information on this course or to set an appointment, please contact Associate Director Amanda Rivas.

The Externship office is located at the Center for Legal and Social Justice, 2507 N.W. 36th Street.

Program Supervisors
Director: Karen Kelley
Associate Director: Amanda Rivas

Learn more about Externships

View Frequently Asked Questions


Externships

Students interested in the program are responsible for securing an unpaid placement, with a non-profit, government agency or select in-house counsel not on the “approved” list of judicial internships in order to receive credit through the Externship program.

Eligibility and Requirements

  • Student must complete all 1L courses.
  • Student must obtain a nonprofit or government job where they will be supervised by a licensed attorney.
  • Student must submit a registration and commitment form signed by both student and supervisor.
  • Student must attend classes and meetings as stated in the syllabus: generally, a few classes and group meetings throughout the semester.
  • Student must submit reflective essays throughout the course of their externship.
  • Timesheets must be submitted by student. Final timesheet must be submitted with supervisor initials.
  • Student must submit exemplars; two original work products.
  • A check-In conference with the Director, student and supervisor is required.
  • Transfer students must complete the 1L curriculum as required by their original law school.
  • Student must submit two evaluations (Mid-term and Final) administered, signed and reviewed with them by their supervisor.

Time Commitment

An externship semester requires 150 hours of work at the placement site, plus 15-20 hours of curriculum (see Syllabi tab for curriculum details), to earn three experiential learning credits. The course requires a 10 week minimum commitment. Any less than three credits will need special approval from the placement supervisor and Externship Director.

Evaluation

All coursework and evaluations are reviewed by the Director to determine the student’s final grade. The Director submits a pass/fail grade for the course after reviewing all coursework and evaluations.

In-house Counsel Externship Program

Our goal for externs in this program include:

  1. A basic competency required for legal practice in a general counsel department, specifically; interpersonal skills, analytical or technical skills, and business culture acclimation.
  2. A basic knowledge of the professional responsibility and ethics owed to your client, opposing parties, colleagues and the court system.
  3. An experience in active learning through consistent feedback, reflection and implementation.

Program Curriculum

  • Attend Mandatory Class and Meetings.
  • Attend IHC Class with Professor Angela Walch (1-2 hours).
  • Attend two check-in meetings with Professor Angela Walch on campus.
  • Complete weekly contemporaneous reflective essays and time sheets.
  • Schedule and complete check-in conference.
  • Seek and implement feedback from formal and informal evaluations (mid-term and final evaluations).
  • Exemplars may be required depending on the placements. Two original work products.
  • Complete all assignments and requirements of the program in a timely manner.
  • Note: This course may only be taken for three credit hours; students are required to work for a minimum of 150 hours.

Getting Started

  • Before you start, it’s recommended you contact the Externship Associate Director, Amanda Rivas for guidance at arivas@stmarytx.edu or 210-431-5712.
    • All Externship credits must be approved by the Externship Office.
  • Ensure your semester will allow you to work at least 150 hours at the site (13-15 hours per week) for a 10 week minimum.
  • Update your resume, prepare a cover letter, prepare a 3-5 page writing sample of your best work.
  • Keep an eye out for in-house counsel postings on CORE.

Examples of Externship work sites

Programs:

  • Bexar County Civil District Courts Staff Attorney
  • Collin County District Attorney
  • Department of Veteran Affairs
  • Judge Advocate General’s Office
  • Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF)
  • Office of the Attorney General, Child Support
  • Office of the Attorney General, Consumer Protection
  • Railroad Commission
  • RAICES Inc. (Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services, Inc.)
  • Texas RioGrande Legal Aid
  • United States Equal Employment Opportunity
  • United States Customs and Immigration Services

In-house Counsel Approved locations:

  • Randolph Brooks Federal Credit Union
  • Acelity

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Externship Program?
Do I have to find my externship placement myself?
Do I need to have my externship approved?
Where are some places that have been externships in the past?
Does the placement have to be a nonprofit or government agency?
What is the In-house Counsel Externship Program?
Can I enroll in an Externship Program as a 1L?
How and when should I register for an Externship Program?
Is it possible to complete the externship program outside of San Antonio?
Can we get a letter grade for our externship?
Is class attendance required for the externship? When and where are the externship classes?
May I be paid for my work?
How many hours must I complete for the course?
Can I do more than one Externship Program?
What are the course requirements?
Can I complete my writing requirement with the Externship Program?
What if I have a question or concern?

Q: What is the Externship Program?
The Externship Program requires students to find a placement in the San Antonio area. The Externship Director will be the faculty sponsor for all externs. This program requires attending a classes/meetings, structured reflections, an exemplar portfolio of your work product, a check-in conference, and evaluations. This course can be up to three credits for a pass/fail grade. The program requires students to be supervised by an attorney at the placement. Students will need to work a minimum of 60 hours for each credit hour desired.

Q: Do I have to find my externship placement myself?
Yes, you will need to have a job offer for the externship program. The Office of Career Services can help you start on the job search.

Q: Do I need to have my externship placement approved?
Yes, the placement will need to be approved before final enrollment in either course. You will need to contact Associate Director Amanda Rivas (arivas@stmarytx.edu) once you have a job offer and are considering the Externship Program.

Q: Where are some places that have been externships in the past?
A few of our participants from our pilot program are: Attorney General’s Child Support Division and Consumer Protection Division, Mexican American Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), Railroad Commission, Office of General Counsel for the Governor, Catholic Charities Immigration Services, and United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Q: Does the placement have to be a nonprofit or government agency?
Generally, yes. Only nonprofit and government agencies will qualify for the Externship Program. You will not be eligible for the program if your job offer is from a private firm. Select corporate placements are vetted and approved for in-house counsel externships. If you have any questions about whether your job offer would qualify, please contact Associate Director Amanda Rivas (arivas@stmarytx.edu).

Q: What is the In-house Counsel Externship Program??
Students are able to extern at a pre-approved corporation site. Students are required to complete the same requirements as the Externship Program in addition to the In-House Counsel class with Professor Angela Walch. For more information, contact Associate Director Amanda Rivas at arivas@stmarytx.edu.

Q: Can I enroll in the Externship Program as a 1L?
No. Only 2Ls and 3Ls are eligible to enroll in the Externship Program. 1L evening students in their last semester do not qualify for these programs.

Q: How and when should I register for the Externship Program?
Once you have a job offer, contact Associate Director Amanda Rivas (arivas@stmarytx.edu ) to ensure the placement meets the criteria for the Externship Program. An externship does not require a faculty sponsor. You will need to discuss the program with your supervising attorney. If you both agree to the expectations of the program, then you will sign and submit a registration form to the Associate Director. In addition, the externship program requires you both sign and submit a commitment form.

Q: Is it possible to complete the externship program outside of San Antonio?
No. The externship program is generally limited to the San Antonio area. A few exceptions are made to other regions in Texas when accommodations can be arranged. The program requires close enough proximity to allow for direct meetings among students, placement supervisor and the faculty member.

Q: Can we get a letter grade for our externship?
No. Currently, both the externship program is pass/fail. Professor Novoa is charged with evaluating your work and assigning your pass/fail grade.

Q: Is class attendance required for the externship? When and where are the externship classes?
Yes, class attendance is required. Classes and Meetings for the externship program are scheduled each semester in conjunction with the student’s schedule.

Q: May I be paid for my work?
Yes, you can earn credit and receive compensation for the same hours at the placement. The ABA lifted the prohibition on receiving payment and credit in August 2016. The faculty elected to follow suit during the spring of 2017. You are allowed to receive compensation directly from the employer or a third party (i.e. fellowship, scholarship, grant, work-study). Placement eligibility still requires externs to work at an approved non-profit, government or in-house counsel office. Please inform the Externship office if you plan to receive compensation and credit for the semester

Q: How many hours must I complete for the course?
You will have to work 150 hours at the placement site, plus 15-20 hours of curriculum (see Syllabi tab for curriculum details), to earn three experiential learning credits. The course requires a
10-week minimum commitment. Submitting regular timesheets are part of the curriculum requirements.

Q: Can I do more than one Externship Program?
Yes. However, you are limited by the 8 hour pass/fail limit stated in the student handbook. Please contact the Associate Director as soon as possible to discuss further details.

Q: What are the course requirements?
Generally, you must completed 15 hours of work at the placement, plus 15-20 hours of curriculum work during a 10 week minimum. Curriculum for the externship course includes, attending mandatory classes and meetings, completing a check-in conference, producing an exemplars portfolio, and completing an additional evaluation.

Q: Can I complete my writing requirement with any Externship Program?
No, the Externship Program is not approved by the faculty as a course in which the writing requirement can be met.

Q: What if I have a question, concern, or special need?
Contact Associate Director Amanda Rivas (arivas@stmarytx.edu). Her office located at the Center for Legal and Social Justice. Office phone: 431-5712. Fax: 431-5700.

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