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Externships

In the externship program, law students have an opportunity to learn in supervised judicial, governmental and non-profit organizations about the practice of law.

The OU College of Law provides a wide variety of opportunities for students to work with legal professionals and clients in an attorney-supervised workplace. Students earn from 3–12 hours upon successful completion of an externship. Students work with the extern director to identify placement opportunities.

Externship Prerequisites

  • Completion of a minimum of 28 hours of credit at an ABA-approved law school
  • Concurrent enrollment in or prior completion of Issues in Professionalism (2 credits)
  • Approval of placement by Director of Externships

Issues in Professionalism (2 credits)

Students participating in their first semester as an extern OR a licensed legal intern must take this class in addition to enrolling in Extern Placement. (The Issues in Professionalism class does not count toward the six-hour Experiential Learning requirement.) 

Externship Placement

Three-credit externships requires a student to spend a minimum of 140 hours a semester at the placement. Externs who exceed the 140-hour requirement can submit the additional hours for pro bono credit through OU’s Students Access to Justice program.

Students may receive credit for up to two semesters of extern placement at different placements. 

During the summer semester, students are able to work in placements outside of the Norman and Oklahoma City areas, allowing students to either return to their home communities or explore new cities. Externs have worked in many places including Florida, California, Maryland, Texas, Colorado, Nevada, Washington, D.C., and Johannesburg, South Africa.

Federal Indian Law Externship (up to 12 credits)

This clinical program allows students to work one semester for federal attorneys engaged in Indian law litigation and policymaking in Washington, D.C. Students have interned at the United States Department of Justice and the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Interns are expected to participate in weekly substantive presentations and meetings on significant litigation and policy matters and are required to complete two independent writing projects. By application only.

Inter-American Human Rights Commission Externship

Students who have completed the Federal Indian Law and/or International Law courses are eligible to participate in a 12-hour-credit Inter-American Human Rights Commission Externship, working at the commission as a part of the Indigenous Rapporteurship team.

Tribal Court Externship

Native American tribal judiciaries are also among available judicial externship opportunities.

Finding a Placement.

Current placement opportunities are posted on the OU Law student intranet Externship Forum. Externs may also locate their own placement or work with the Director of Externships to find a placement. Applicants should verify that a current resume and writing sample are uploaded on Symplicity. Externships should finalized at least two weeks prior to the start of the semester.

Judicial Placements

Selected students have the opportunity to work in a judge’s chambers, gaining experience in legal research and writing. Placement is based on academic records, writing samples, faculty references, and personal interviews.

Recent judicial placements include:

  • United States District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma
  • Oklahoma Supreme Court
  • Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals
  • Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals
  • Oklahoma County Oklahoma District Court
  • United States District Court for the District of Nevada
  • United States District Court for the District of North Dakota
  • Texas Court of Civil Appeals
  • Bankruptcy Court, Eastern District of Texas
  • Bankruptcy Court, Western District of Oklahoma
  • Dallas County Texas Family District Court
  • Cleveland County Oklahoma District Court

Government & Nonprofit Placements

Accepted students are paired with governmental agencies or non-profit organizations to allow them to learn about representation of clients, the demands of practice, and ethical obligations.

Recent governmental and non-profit agency placements include:

  • Representative David D. Boren’s Office
  • Cleveland County D.A.’s Office
  • Oklahoma County Public Defender’s Office
  • City of Norman
  • Oklahoma Bar Association
  • Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigations
  • Tinker A.F.B.
  • Ft. Sill A.F.B.
  • Texas - Dallas County D.A.’s Office
  • Texas - Dallas County Public Defender’s Office
  • Equality Federation
  • Federal Public Defender’s Office
  • Georgia - Office of Fulton County District Attorney
  • Oklahoma Insurance Department
  • Legal Aid of N.W. Texas
  • Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma – Tulsa
  • Legal Aid Services of Hawaii
  • Missouri - Jackson County D.A.’s Office
  • Maryland - Office of Attorney General
  • Texas - Montgomery County D.A.’s Office
  • Oklahoma Attorney General’s Office
  • Oklahoma Corporation Commission
  • Oklahoma County D.A.’s Office
  • Civil Division; Homicide Division
  • Oklahoma County Public Defender’s Office
  • Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry
  • Oklahoma Indian Legal Services, Inc.
  • Oklahoma Indigent Defense System (OIDS)
  • Oklahoma State House of Representative
  • Oklahoma Water Resource Board
  • Oklahoma Pardon & Parole Board
  • Denver - United States Attorney’s Office
  • United States Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Oklahoma
  • University of Oklahoma Athletic Compliance Office
  • Pennsylvania - Westmoreland County D.A.’s Office
  • U.S. Department of State & U.S. Embassies Abroad

Mediation Placements

Many courts now require parties to a lawsuit to participate in a mediation. Through this externship program, students receive training to become a mediator and gain a better understanding of the mediation process. In collaboration with the Oklahoma Supreme Court Early Settlement Program, students qualify for certification by the Supreme Court as a volunteer mediator and conduct mediations in Cleveland County and Norman Municipal Courts.

Differences between Externships and Internships or Summer Clerkships

There are a few differences between externships and internships. Externs work for class credit, while interns do not. Internships vary greatly, depending on the organization’s preferences. Some internship positions are paid, some are volunteer (unpaid), and some require a legal intern’s license issued by the Oklahoma Bar Association. There is no license requirement to work as an extern.

Licensed Legal Interns

Students interested in working outside the law school as a licensed legal intern in Oklahoma are required to enroll in Issues in Professionalism, register with the Oklahoma Board of Bar Examiners, apply for a limited license, identify a supervising attorney, take and pass the Licensed Legal Intern Exam, and obtain a limited license.

Forms and applications can be found in the Licensed Legal Interns Forms section of the Rules of the Supreme Court of the State of Oklahoma on Legal Internship. Students can pick up information from Lori Ketner, Room 2020, or call her at (405) 325-3433 regarding the requirements and process.

Externship Application

Applications for an Externship Placement are accepted throughout the year. Contact Professor Connie Smothermon at csmothermon@ou.edu for an application.

Externships Contact

Connie Smothermon Externships Director csmothermon@ou.edu 

Updated 08/15/2017 by OU Law: lawcommunications@ou.edu

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