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Students earn academic credit while gaining valuable experience under close supervision in a wide array of placements. 

Penn Law’s unique geographic location, situated in the nation’s most historic legal center and within easy reach of New York City and Washington DC, offers students unparalleled externship opportunities to be at the forefront of legal practice in the nation’s most prominent government offices and non-profit organizations. 

Within Penn Law students participate in biweekly tutorials with faculty where they have an opportunity to discuss and reflect upon broader lawyering issues involving professional responsibility, delivery of services, legal institutions, lawyering competence, client relations, and other related issues that arise in each setting. Outside Penn Law, students meet regularly with their externship supervisors to receive feedback on the important legal work they perform at their placement site.

Diverse Externship Opportunities

Placements are one semester in length and generally are offered for either four or seven academic credits. All students must have successfully completed at least one year of law school before they can enroll in an externship. Most externships are open to both second and third year students; third year students are given enrollment priority. All externships continue through the end of the examination period of each semester and benefit from flexibility in student schedules. 

The goal of Penn Law’s Externship Program is to supplement traditional classroom study and experiential study obtained through clinical courses by providing external opportunities for students to observe and participate meaningfully in lawyering at government agencies and non-profit, public interest settings. Externships are intended to offer students in-depth study in substantive areas, supplement experiential study provided in clinical courses, and explore experiential study of subjects or activities not currently offered experientially in the curriculum. Through such study, the program hopes to enhance the development of a broad range of lawyering skills, advance personal career goals, enable critical reflection of the legal profession and legal institutions, encourage self-directed learning through reflection, and promote core competencies and professional values that produce skilled and ethical lawyers and professionals in our society. 

Externship Handbooks are distributed to all students at the beginning of each semester who are enrolled in an externship placement. The handbook offers a more comprehensive program overview, discusses academic standards and requirements, and many other details. 

Students who are not enrolled in an externship, but who would like to receive a copy of the handbook can e-mail

Flexibility to create Externships

Students who have a demonstrated professional interest and commitment to a subject that they would like to study experientially that is not currently covered by course, clinical or seminar offerings, may propose an ad hoc externship for approval by the faculty in accordance with published guidelines. View Ad Hoc Externships.

Students have recently participated in these externships:

ACLU of Pennsylvania    Office of the General Counsel (University of Pennsylvania & Temple University) 
Aids Law Project of PA  Open Society Justice Initiative (New York) 
American Cancer Society PA Human Relations Commission 
Amnesty International PA Institutional Law Project
Brennan Center for Justice Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office 
Community Legal Services  Philadelphia Law Department (Labor & Employment Unit)  
Death Penalty Litigation at the Capital Habeas Unit of the Federal Defenders Office  Philadelphia Legal Assistance       
Delaware River Keeper  Philadelphia Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts
Education Law Center Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia
Federal Appellate Litigation Externship (Partnership with the Dechert Law Firm where students represent pro bono clients in civil rights and habeas matters before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit)  Regional Housing Legal Services
Federal Bureau of Prisons  Smithsonian Institute
Federal Communications Commission The Barnes Foundation
Federal Public Defender  The Pennsylvania Innocence Project 
Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society The White House - Office of General Counsel
Human Rights First U.S. Attorney’s Office (Delaware)         
Human Rights Watch U.S. Attorney’s Office (EDNY) 
IRS Office of Chief Counsel (Philadelphia Office)  U.S. Attorney’s Office (EDPA)
Juvenile Law Center U.S. Department of Commerce
Maryland Office of the Attorney General (Economic Crimes Division)  U.S. Department of Justice
Mazzoni Center  U.S. Department of State, Office of Legal Advisor
Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office  U.S. Department of State, U.S. Mission to the United Nations, Legal Section
National Labor Relations Board  U.S. Environmental Protection Agency  (Philadelphia office)
New York City Law Department  U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission 
NY Attorney General’s Office  Women’s Law Project