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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. 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 of the Gittis Externships don’t require an application to enroll, however those with an (*) below require an application, and the placement site selects which students to enroll. 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

Although the list of Gittis Exterships can vary from semester to semester, recent Gittis Externships have included the following placements:

  • Community Legal Services
  • Consumer Bankruptcy Assistance Project
  • Federal Appellate Litigation* (at Dechert LLP)(Fall semester)(3L’s only)
  • Federal Defender’s Office, Capital Habeas Unit
  • Pennsylvania Innocence Project
  • Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office (3L’s in the Fall and 2L’s & 3L’s in the Spring)
  • Securities and Exchange Commission*(Phila.)(3L’s in the Fall and 2L’s & 3L’s in the Spring) (Click here for the application process and deadline details for this placement)
  • Senior Law Center
  • United States Attorney’s Office* - Civil and Criminal Divisions (E.D. Pa.) (3L’s only, offered only in the Spring semester). Click here for the application process and deadline details for the Civil Division Placement; and click here for the application process and deadline details for the Criminal Division Placement.
  • University of Pennsylvania Office of General Counsel*- (Click here for the application process and deadline details for this placement)
  • Women’s Law Project

*These placements have an early application deadline and require students to apply as opposed to enrolling via the Advance Registration lottery.  Students submit their application materials to the Penn Law Externship program rather than contacting/applying directly to the placement site (all application requirement details will be emailed to students and are linked above). 

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.