Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - 30

TAKING THE STAND
Recognizing How
Externships Enhance
Legal Education
By Dena R. Bauman
L
aw students and the District
of Columbia go hand in hand.
Coming from the nine area
schools and across the
country, students work in federal
and state government offices, on
the Hill, at advocacy and public
interest organizations, in courthouses,
at private law firms, and
for businesses.
In all these sectors, many legal offices have
excellent law student programs, providing
students with thoughtful assignments and
careful oversight and creating numerous networking
and social opportunities to experience
the nuances of lawyer culture. These programs
greatly enhance the students' education,
regardless of whether the students are volunteers,
paid, or receiving academic credit.
However, when students are earning credit for
their placements, schools accredited by the
American Bar Association (ABA) must comply
with ABA curricular standards.1
This article
surveys the rules governing externships and
is a starting point for attorneys who are interested
in learning more, perhaps in contemplation
of launching an externship program. The
piece also offers insights from externship
faculty and practicing attorneys, concluding
with a note on the challenges and opportunities
posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Note that here the term " externships " refers to
for-credit placements. The official ABA term is
" field placements. " Many people, however, also
use the word " internship. "
PROGRAM CHARACTERISTICS
AND BENEFITS
According to the Center for the Study of
Applied Legal Education, the number of
externship programs and classes has grown,
and at the same time the ABA has increasingly
recognized that externships are a vital part of
the curriculum. Externships allow students to
have structured educational experiences in the
legal community - possibly in another state
or even abroad - and often provide exposure
to subject areas not covered by a law school's
curriculum.
Externships share many similarities with
in-house clinics, but there are important differences.
For example, externs work in real-life
practice, with a dual model of supervision: by
the field supervisor and by the externship
faculty. This is best seen as a teaching partnership,
in which the law school is entrusting a
core teaching responsibility to the site
supervisor.
Another characteristic of externships is an
expectation that students develop a heightened
sense of self-awareness and self-direction. Many
extern faculty members, for example, require
their students to prepare a learning agenda for
the semester. I explain to my students that it is
akin to writing their own syllabus. Lastly, like
in-house clinicians, externship faculty guide
students in reflecting on their " raw " experience.
However, the separation between the externship
and the law school enhances the possibility
for students to candidly discuss the placement
with externship faculty.
ABA AND LAW SCHOOL
REQUIREMENTS
The ABA undertook a comprehensive review of
accreditation standards beginning in 2008 and
30 WASHINGTON LAWYER * JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2022
finalized a number of significant changes to
externships in 2016. Field placements were
clearly identified as experiential courses, alongside
law clinics and simulations.2
In addition,
the ABA made clear that field placement
courses have explicit pedagogical requirements,
so they must be taught by faculty.
The ABA requires " a written understanding
among the student, faculty member, and a
person in authority at the field placement that
describes both (A) the substantial lawyering
experience and opportunities for performance,
feedback and self-evaluation; and (B) the
respective roles of faculty and any site supervisor
in supervising the student and in assuring
the educational quality of the experience for
the student, including a clearly articulated
method of evaluating the student's academic
performance. " 3
Sites may have their own
written agreements, such as those required by
many federal agencies.
Beyond a written agreement, law schools must
exercise substantial site oversight. The law
school must establish " a method for selecting,
training, evaluating and communicating with
site supervisors . . . through in-person visits or
other methods of communication that will
assure the quality of the student educational
experience. " 4
As the language indicates, it is faculty, not
administrators, who are responsible for placement
oversight. Although site meetings are no
longer required, extern faculty members often
continue those meetings as a valuable opportunity
to build existing connections and focus
closely on the student's experience. I have
found them especially important when
everyone was teleworking.
According to the ABA requirements, " [a] field
placement course provides substantial
" Taking the Stand " appears
periodically in Washington
Lawyer as a forum for D.C. Bar
members to address issues of
importance to them and that
would be of interest to others.
The opinions expressed are the
author's own. For submissions,
email editorial@dcbar.org.

Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022

From Our President
Calendar of Events
Practice Management
Toward Well-Being
Protecting the Integrity of the Profession: A Conversation on Legal Ethics
How Far Should You Go? Frivolous Claims & Litigation Ethics
The Solo/Small Firm Life: Lean, Mean Business Machine
Upping Your Game With Professional Coaching
The Founding of the D.C. Bar
Taking the Stand
On Further Review
The Learning Curve
Member Spotlight
Worth Reading
Attorney Briefs
Speaking of Ethics
Disciplinary Summaries
ABA Delegate’s Corner
The Pro Bono Effect
A Slice of Wry
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - Intro
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - Cover1
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - A
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - B
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - Cover2
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - 1
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - 2
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - 3
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - 4
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - 5
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - From Our President
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - Calendar of Events
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - Practice Management
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - Toward Well-Being
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - Protecting the Integrity of the Profession: A Conversation on Legal Ethics
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - 11
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - 12
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - 13
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - 14
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - 15
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - How Far Should You Go? Frivolous Claims & Litigation Ethics
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - 17
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - 18
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - 19
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - The Solo/Small Firm Life: Lean, Mean Business Machine
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - 21
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - 22
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - 23
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - Upping Your Game With Professional Coaching
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - 25
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - 26
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - 27
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - The Founding of the D.C. Bar
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - 29
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - Taking the Stand
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - 31
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - 32
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - 33
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - On Further Review
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - The Learning Curve
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - Member Spotlight
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - 37
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - Worth Reading
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - 39
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - Attorney Briefs
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - 41
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - Speaking of Ethics
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - 43
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - Disciplinary Summaries
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - ABA Delegate’s Corner
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - The Pro Bono Effect
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - 47
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - A Slice of Wry
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - Cover3
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - Cover4
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