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Externships

Valuable Experience

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. 

Close Supervision

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.

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. 

In order to match program offerings with student interest, Penn Law offers two different types of externships: Gittis Externships and Ad Hoc Externships.  

Both types of Externships are one semester in length and generally are offered for either four or seven academic credits, and are graded as Pass/Fail. All students must have successfully completed at least one year of law school before they can enroll in an externship. All externships continue through the end of the examination period of each semester, and benefit from flexibility in student schedules. 

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 externships@law.upenn.edu .

Gittis Externships:

Gittis Externships consist of pre-approved/standing externships offered in government and non-profit organizations in the Philadelphia area. Upper level students enroll in Gittis Externships by bidding on these placements during the normal Advance Course Registration period, and students do not need to find a faculty supervisor as one has already been assigned. Most Gittis Externships are open to both second and third year students; third year students are given enrollment priority in Gittis externships during the normal Advance Course Registration bidding process. Note that certain Gittis Externships require a separate application, and the placement site selects which students to enroll. Please see list below.

Although the list of Gittis Exterships can vary from semester to semester, recent Gittis Externships have included the placements listed below.

Gittis Externships requiring a separate application process (Due May 1):

These placements have an early application deadline and require students to apply as opposed to enrolling via the Advance Registration lottery. For these externships, students must submit their application materials to the Penn Law Externship program by May 1, 2020, rather than contacting/applying directly to the placement site. However, the placement site selects which students to enroll. The specific application requirements for each placement are linked below:

  • ACLU of Pennsylvania - application details for Fall 2020 can be found here.
  • City of Philadelphia Law Department - application details for Fall 2020 can be found here.
  • Federal Appellate Litigation (at Dechert LLP)(Fall semester)(3L’s only) - application details for Fall 2020 can be found here.
  • Federal Defender’s Office: 
    Capital Habeas Unit - application details for Fall 2020 can be found here.
    Trial Unit - application details for Fall 2020 can be found here
  • Office of Regional Counsel for EPA Region III - application details for Fall 2020 can be found here.
  • Securities and Exchange Commission (Phila.)(3L’s in the Fall and 2L’s & 3L’s in the Spring) - application details for Fall 2020 can be found here.
  • United States Attorney’s Office - (E.D. Pa.) (3L’s only)
    Civil Division - Fall semester - application details for Fall 2020 can be found here.
    Criminal Division
    - Spring Semester - application details for Spring 2021 will be posted in the fall.
  • University of Pennsylvania - Office of General Counsel - application details for Fall 2020 can be found here.
  • University of Pennsylvania - Office of Audit, Compliance and Privacy - application details for Fall 2020 can be found here.

Gittis Externships requiring enrollment via the Advance Registration lottery:

  • Community Legal Services
  • Consumer Bankruptcy Assistance Project
  • Conviction Integrity Unit of Phila. DA’s Office
  • Pennsylvania Innocence Project
  • Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office (3L’s in the Fall and 2L’s & 3L’s in the Spring)
  • Senior Law Center
  • Women’s Law Project - offered one semester per academic year

Externship Travel:

The Law School is pleased to be able to offer travel funding to assist students who choose to pursue externships with government and non-profit organizations.  In conjunction with University travel policies, for qualifying externships outside of Philadelphia, the Law School will reimburse students for 90% of reasonable travel expenses they incur when traveling to these externship placement sites, up to a per-semester maximum of $2,700.  Students are responsible for the remaining 10% of the cost of their travel. We expect that students will consider using less expensive means of travel (i.e., bus) whenever feasible, and will reserve trips in advance to keep costs to a minimum. 

For qualifying externships in Philadelphia and its surrounding counties reachable through the SEPTA public transportation system, the Law School will provide SEPTA round-trip ticket cards. These cards will be available for to pick up in the Student Affairs Office at the beginning of each month.  Students accepting SEPTA tickets through this policy will be required to sign a form certifying that they are using the tickets to travel to externship placement sites. Use of tickets provided by the Law School and the externship travel policy are governed by the Code of Student Conduct.

Students do not have to submit an application for travel funding, and should direct any questions to externships@law.upenn.edu .

FALL 2020 SEMESTER:  Per University Policy, externship travel has been suspended due to Covid-19.

Ad Hoc Externships:

Students also have the flexibility to create and propose their own Externship with a governmental or non-profit organization via the Ad Hoc Externship program, and students are required here to secure their own faculty supervisor.  An Ad Hoc Externship is intended to provide an experiential learning opportunity for a student who has demonstrated a strong interest in a specific subject area which does not have an experiential offering in the current curriculum. More details regarding Ad Hoc Externships can be found here .