Policies and Procedures for Independent Externship Program
I. Policy Statement
C-M Law has a long tradition of providing externship opportunities for its law students. For more than two decades, students have been placed with some of the leading government, judicial, corporate counsel, and nonprofit legal offices in the region. These placements provide students with a unique opportunity to improve their writing, research and oral communication skills; to appreciate the significant ethical issues facing the profession; and to integrate what they learn in the classroom with the actual practice of law. For the externs to fully achieve these goals, and in order for the program to meet ABA/AALS accreditation standards, significant supervision is required by an attorney at the placement site (referred to as the “Supervising Attorney”) and the Faculty Advisor responsible for the externship program during the relevant term. Externships are further distinguished from other employment situations in that a student cannot receive compensation for the student’s services.
C-M Law encourages students to pursue externships that relate closely to their professional goals. Frequently, this can be achieved through placement in an existing externship. From time to time, however, students seek a more particularized experience. C-M Law supports students in their exploration of alternative placements by permitting students to identify independent externship placements. Students have secured independent externships at various sites, including the Lake County Captains, Cleveland Metropolitan School District, The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Lincoln Electric, and in many other corporate, governmental, and nonprofit settings across the country. Most externship placements are in the Greater Cleveland metropolitan area or within reasonable driving distance of
Cleveland. We will consider Independent Externship in a more remote location, on the condition that suitable
arrangements can be made for participation in the Externship Seminar and appropriate supervision of the student’s work.
Independent externships are intended to provide flexibility regarding the placement opportunities available for students while simultaneously maintaining C-M Law’s high standards for our externship program. We expect students to have learning experiences that are similar to students at our established externship sites. With those objectives in mind, we have adopted the procedures stated below to govern the approval and implementation of Independent Externships.
1. Completion of the required first-year curriculum.
2. A cumulative GPA of 2.25 or above.
3. Approval from Clinical Faculty.
4. The Site executes a Memorandum of Understanding with C-M Law stating that it will comply with ABA Standard 304.
B. Procedures for obtaining approval of an Independent Externship:
1. A student who has identified a particular area of law in which he or she would like to gain experience—for example, poverty law or civil liberties—should identify an organization that addresses that area of law.
2. The student informs the OCSE of their interest in securing an independent externship and submits a Pre-Application.
2. The student contacts the organization to determine whether an attorney is available to assign and mentor the student’s work and comply with the externship program’s policies and procedures.
3. The student submits a written proposal to the Clinical Faculty at least 30 days before the first day of classes of the term in which the proposed externship, if approved, will commence. The written proposal shall include the following information:
(a) a description of the organization;
(b) a description of the legal work the extern will do (e.g., client interviews, legal research, drafting documents or memos, court appearances, etc.);
(c) a description of the opportunities to observe attorneys in action that are available to the student such as attending meetings, observing court proceedings, listening to telephone calls between attorneys and clients, attending board meetings, and attending witness interviews.
(d) the tentative work schedule the extern has negotiated with the organization, including the days of the week and the hours on those days;
(e) an explanation of the educational benefits that the extern believes will result from the placement;
(f) the Supervising Attorney’s name, position within the organization, address, email address, and phone number;
(g) a statement that the student and Supervising Attorney have considered and discussed any anticipated conflicts of interest, impact on the attorney-client privilege between the organization and its clients, and other ethical concerns that the placement might raise; and
(h) any other information the student deems relevant to the proposal or specifically requested by the Clinical Faculty.
4. Upon receipt of the written proposal, a member of the Clinical Faculty will meet with the Site Supervisor to (a) explain how the Externship Program works, (b) determine if the proposed experience meets our requirements, and (c) request that the site execute the Memorandum of Understanding.
5. After a member of the Clinical Faculty meets with the Site Supervisor, the Clinical Faculty will approve or deny the proposal for an independent externship. The Clinical Faculty’s denial of a proposal is final and is not appealable to the Dean of the law school, the Associate Deans, the faculty, or any committee thereof.
C. Procedures following approval of an Independent Externship:
After the independent externship is approved, the student must register for the independent
externship course and comply with the externship program rules and requirements set forth in
the Externship Program Handbook.