Washington, D.C., Semester Externship Program

  • New Program
    New Program  Associate Dean Rob Kaplan, far left, and the six 3Ls who completed Fall 2014 externships in D.C. From left, Nathaniel T. Flanders, Aaron M. Wilensky, Atif Ahmed Choudhury, Thomas I. Zells, Lorin C. Kolcun, and Nicholas M. Leonardi.  Photo by David F. Morrill
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Six third-year students completed externships in Washington in Fall 2014. The new D.C. program builds on the Law School's highly successful externship program that has been in place for many years.

"My externship was the most valuable aspect of my law school career. I gained practical experience that's not possible in a classroom, developed a substantial network in the area of law I plan to practice in, and provided what will likely be my first post law school job."

"This entire externship can be summarized as a massive opportunity for professional, intellectual, and personal growth."

"This externship has been the most challenging and rewarding experience of my professional life."

"I have not had a more exciting experience in the field of law than this externship."

"If we could figure out how to move the Law School lobby to D.C., the program would be perfect."

These comments were among the many positive observations from students who participated in the Law School's inaugural Washington, D.C., Semester Externship Program during Fall 2014.  Six third-year students externed with the Administrative Conference of the United States; The Honorable Paul Friedman, United States District Judge for the District of Columbia; the National Center for State Courts, International Division; the National Credit Union Administration; the Prince George's County (Maryland) State's Attorney; and the United States Capitol Police, Office of General Counsel.

The D.C. Externship Semester was implemented to accomplish several objectives--complement students' classroom learning through hands-on experience, provide students with additional opportunities to demonstrate their practical skills, help students build their professional networks, and enhance the Law School's already strong footprint in the D.C. legal community. Eligible placements include federal, state, and local government agencies; courts and judges; prosecutors; public defenders; legal aid offices; and 501(c)(3) organizations in Washington, D.C., or the Northern Virginia or Maryland suburbs of D.C.

Students earn 12 pass/fail credits by externing at least 480 hours. They submit weekly reflective journals and final reports. Their field supervisors complete written evaluations of their work. Externs also attend weekly classes taught by Adjunct Professors Judy Conti, J.D. '94 and Fred Jacob, J.D. '94 at William & Mary's Washington Office. Conti and Jacob draw on their lengthy, varied, successful careers and contacts in Washington to facilitate thought-provoking, interactive discussions.

Field supervisors were effusive in their praise, describing William & Mary externs as "outstanding writer," "great researcher," "quick learner," "taking initiative," "not reluctant to share views or politely disagree," "collaborative," "consummate professional," and "an absolute pleasure to work with."  Consistent themes emerged:  students "performed work equivalent to that of experienced attorneys"; were "first-rate ambassadors for W&M"; "ranked at the top of all students we've had"; and are "in line to be hired if a position is available for next fall."

The D.C. Semester Externship builds on the Law School's highly successful externship program that has been in place for many years.  Through that program, students earn up to three credits per externship, the vast majority of which are within commuting distance of Williamsburg. Enrollment in that program has grown 98% in recent years, with 271 externs serving during the 2014-15 academic year.

"Based on feedback from students and their field supervisors, the D.C. Semester Externship Program was an unqualified success," noted Associate Dean Rob Kaplan.  "We are excited to continue the program during Fall 2015."  Alumni interested in having their organizations participate in the program are welcome to contact Kaplan at (757) 221-3804 or [[w|rekapl]].

About William & Mary Law School

Thomas Jefferson founded William & Mary Law School in 1779 to train leaders for the new nation. Now in its third century, America's oldest law school continues its historic mission of educating citizen lawyers who are prepared both to lead and to serve.