Third-Year Externship Program
Washington and Lee’s innovative third-year curriculum is entirely experiential; expanding upon the lessons and law of the first- and second-year curriculum, students move out of the classroom and into the real world of legal practice. The course of study consists of practice-based simulations, real-client experiences, and advanced explorations into legal ethics and professionalism. The curriculum builds upon and expands the lessons of the first and second years of instruction, moving students from a passive classroom role into one more closely connected to the world of legal practice.
The new third-year curriculum is not merely a year devoted to practice skills, though lawyering skills are addressed in a variety of ways. Instead, the primary focus is to develop in law students the habits of mind and judgment of legal professionals, in short, to learn and apply law the way lawyers do in the process of solving problems for their clients. Each third-year semester begins with a two-week skills immersion—a litigation-based experience in the fall and a transactional-based experience in the spring. Students emerge from these intensive experiences with something of a "tool kit" available to them for use and adaptation to other matters in different practice areas.
For the remainder of each semester students enroll in electives, at least one of which must engage the student in an actual legal setting in a representational capacity. Externships are one elective that satisfies this requirement. Ideally, students will strive to accomplish four things in an externship:
- Improve their legal skills, such as research, writing and analysis or negotiation, client communication and courtroom demeanor;
- Increase their knowledge of a substantive area of law such as criminal justice, administrative law, corporate law, or employment law;
- Learn the mission and administration of an agency, court, or non-profit or for-profit entity and explore how the organization accomplishes its mission; and
- Perhaps most importantly, begin to develop a concept of professional identity.
Student externs spend one to two days at their externship site each week, and must enroll in an accompanying course taught by Washington and Lee’s Assistant Dean for Clinical Education and Public Service, Mary Natkin. Dean Natkin maintains an ongoing "conversation" with supervisors, who are asked to evaluate their extern at the midpoint and the close of the semester.
Inquiries about the externship program should be directed to Mary Z. Natkin, Clinical Professor of Law and Director, Externship Program: 540.458.8576 or firstname.lastname@example.org. If you would like to be contacted to receive information about mentoring an extern, please provide your contact information here.