Externships

Pitt Law’s Externship Program allows students to earn credit for legal work performed outside the law school during the fall, spring, or summer.

In order to qualify for the program, externships must meet the following requirements:

  1. Externships with non-profit organizations or governmental entities are eligible for the program, whether paid or unpaid. Under limited circumstances outlined below,* the Externship and Semester in DC Directors may approve externships with for-profit entities.
  2. Student externs must do primarily law- or public policy-related work.
  3. If the externship is law-related, an attorney must supervise the student extern.  If the externship is policy-focused, an equivalent public policy professional may supervise the student extern.
  4. Student externs must work a minimum of 42 hours per externship credit during the program dates.
  5. Students may work at their externship sites or remotely (after completing a telework agreement). Historically, telecommuting is not permitted as part of the externship program (except on an occasional basis due to unusual circumstances, e.g., if the office closes temporarily due to weather or a government shutdown).

*For-profit externships:

Whenever possible, for-profit employers should pay law student interns a sufficient salary to enable students to engage in such internships. However, under limited circumstances, the Externship and Semester in DC Directors will approve externship credit for work with for-profit employers. This policy is primarily meant to enable a student to earn credit for an externship that is educationally valuable to the student, but is with a for-profit organization that does not offer paid student internships. These organizations may include small companies, social enterprises, and law firms. In order to qualify for externship credit, a student’s work with a for-profit entity must meet all of the following criteria:

  1. The student would not be able to pursue the internship without receiving academic credit. (Examples include: opportunities through the Semester in DC Program; the student needs to earn academic credit for any work due to an employer or visa requirement; or the employer does not offer any paid internships.)
  2. Engaging in this internship presents a particularly valuable learning opportunity for the student or fulfills a mandatory external requirement. (Examples include: A fellowship or other external program requires the student to work in an internship; or the work closely matches the student’s career goals and this is an unusual opportunity to gain skills, knowledge, or career connections not available elsewhere.)
  3. Process requirements: The student must submit additional for-profit externship information on PittLawWorks to have the externship preapproved. The employer must also address specific for-profit questions on the externship site approval form in advance confirming that it meets the Pitt Law program requirements and the Department of Labor guidance concerning unpaid internships.

Students commonly engage in externships in judicial chambers, the offices of prosecutors and public defenders, other government agencies (local, state, and federal), and non-profit organizations (domestic and international).

The Law School awards one externship credit for forty-two (42) hours of work satisfactorily completed by a student extern at an approved externship site, up to a maximum of four externship credits that may be earned during the student’s tenure at the Law School.

In addition to satisfactorily completing the externship work at the externship site, a student must also complete the additional requirements indicated on the externship course syllabus, including:

  • following the special enrollment procedures,
  • completing all required classwork on time,
  • logging your externship work hours on PittLawWorks, and
  • submitting the required evaluations.

The Fall and Spring Externship Program dates follow the Law School calendar, and the Summer Externship Program dates follow the University calendar. The Externship requirements for your term will be explained during the mandatory orientation session described below, as well as in the course syllabus.

Special Enrollment and Registration Procedures

(1) Enroll in the Externship Program by logging on to PittLawWorks selecting “Experiential Learning” from the menu on the left hand side, clicking “+ New Opportunity”, and completing the online form in advance of the Orientation Session. The Externship Program Co-Directors will approve your externship and assign you a Faculty Advisor. Important: you must enroll in the Externship Program by the date of the orientation session. Late enrollment will not be permitted unless you acquire your externship on or after the orientation session date.

(2)  Once your externship is approved, the Co-Directors will notify the Registrar's Office so that you may be enrolled in the course and in the mandatory Blackboard/Courseweb online class. You can choose to register for 1-4 credits. Please check your course schedule to confirm that the registration has been finalized. You should see the registration in your course schedule by the last week of finals if you enrolled on PittLawWorks in advance.

(3) After registering, you must attend a mandatory orientation session before you can begin to earn credit for your externship work and the accompanying required online classwork. Details about the orientation sessions, including the room numbers and the date of the orientation sessions, will also be published in the eDocket and the Events Section of PittLawWorks. If you have an unavoidable conflict with the orientation session time, you must contact the Co-Directors immediately.

FAQs and Contacting the Co-Directors

To access the Externship FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions), syllabus and related externship forms and documents, students may visit the PittLawWorks Resource Library.

PittLawWorks Resource Library

If you want to discuss externship possibilities or have any questions or concerns, please feel free to reach out to the Externship Program Co-Directors, Professor Stephanie Dangel, Faculty Director, and Rochelle R. McCain, Director of Professional Development Office, at pittlawexternships@pitt.edu.

Employers: Interest in Serving as an Externship Site? 

Thank you for your interest in participating in our Externship Program. In structuring the Externship Program, the Law School is committed to ensuring, through the careful selection of supervising attorneys by the Externship placement site and continuing faculty involvement in each Externship, that the quality of the learning experience for externs is comparable to that which is offered by the Law School in courses taught by full-time faculty.

Each extern is expected to perform his or her work with the dedication, quality of judgment and analytical skill, and attention to professional ethics that can reasonably be expected of a future member of the Bar.  To receive credit for the Externship experience, the student extern must complete his/her/their Externship work in a manner that is deemed satisfactory by the Supervising Attorney and the Faculty Advisor for that Externship, as well as completing the required classwork and other program requirements.

If you are interested in serving as an externship site or you have further questions regarding the program, please feel free to reach out to the Externship Program Co-Directors, Professor Stephanie Dangel, Faculty Director, and Rochelle R. McCain, Executive Director of Professional Development Office, at pittlawexternships@pitt.edu.

Semester in D.C. Program

Spend the semester in Washington, D.C., working for a nonprofit or government agency and earn up to 15 credits. These credits are in addition to the four credits you can earn through the Externship Program. The Semester in D.C. Program offers the opportunity to make contacts and gain intensive, hands-on experience in your field of interest. It is especially useful for students who have an interest in working in D.C. or for a government, non-profit, or public policy organization after graduation. See the Semester in D.C. Program page for more information.