SMU’s Externship Program provides students with the opportunity to learn by doing. Students work in carefully selected legal settings under the supervision of a mentor-attorney and a member of the law faculty.

During their externship, student externs observe and participate in lawyering tasks, gaining both valuable skills and a sense of the kind of lawyer they wish to become. In addition, externships foster sensitivity to the social, political and professional implications of the legal process.



Externships at SMU include both work in a legal setting and an associated class designed to help the extern get the most out of the experience. There are three classes, each of which is associated with a cluster of externships:

Corporate Counsel Externship
Fall only; 4 credits for field placement + class
  • Students work in corporate legal departments while also taking a weekly corporate counsel class that explores substantive areas of the  law as well as practical skills like working with outside counsel and conducting an internal investigation. Students apply in February and, if accepted, are assigned to a corporate legal department.

Federal Judicial Externship
Fall and spring; 3 credits for field placement + class
  • Students participating in this externship are individually selected by federal judges for their chambers, to work directly with the judge and his/her law clerks on pending matters. A 5th Circuit Appellate Judge, and 19 additional U.S. District Court, Magistrate and Bankruptcy Judges in Dallas, Plano, Fort Worth and Sherman participate. Externs in this program also take a related class that reflects on the role of federal judges and courts, and enhances the students’ research and writing skills.

Government & Public Interest Externship
Fall, spring, summer – beginning fall 2017;  3-4 credits for field placement + class
  • Students apply directly to the field placements to be selected for the opportunity to participate in these government and public interest placements. In addition, students must enroll in a weekly class that explores the role of the lawyer in public service, helps students achieve their learning goals, and encourages reflection on the externship experience.  Students should watch for announcements regarding opportunities to apply for many of these externships through the Office of Career Services.

Students must register for the classroom component of the externship in order to receive credit for the Corporate Counsel Externship or Federal Judicial Externship. Beginning in the fall of 2017, students must register for the Government & Public Interest Externship class in order to receive credit for the first externship they do that falls within that program.

Field Placements within the Government & Public Interest Externship Program: For information about pre-approved placements and how to apply for them or how to create a new field placement that qualifies for academic credit within the Government & Public Interest Externship, email Laura Burstein.

All credit for externships is governed by these rules.


- Default Text -