Students entering their 1L year will hear the terms internship, externship, and clinic at some point. However, not every new student will know what each term means. Additionally, some of the terms may have slightly different meanings at different schools. So, it is a good idea to understand what your prospective schools offer before you begin the application process.
In almost every law school, a clinic is a supervised class in which students work on real-world cases. The clients are usually low-income individuals and the work is done pro bono. Typically, schools offer clinics in various practice areas and the clinics are reserved for upper level students who qualify for a temporary law license.
Similarly, every school offers its students resources to take part in either internships or externships. However, the difference between internships and externships is not always clear. The definitions may be interchangeable at some schools. Alternatively, some schools may say that internships are paid positions that receive no credit and externships are for-credit only, or vice versa.
Here are some relevant questions to ask about Internships/Externships and Clinics before you begin the application process:
- Are there differences between externships and internships at this school? If so, what are those differences?
- Will I receive academic credit for completing an internship/externship? If so, how many credits can I receive from such sources?
- What resources are available to me so that I can secure an internship/externship?
- Do you offer clinics? If so, in what practice areas?
- Is a temporary law license necessary to participate in a clinic?
- Does the internship/externship or clinic meet any graduation requirements?
The above questions may be answered by visiting a school’s website. Alternatively, you can email a school directly to inquire about its offerings or do so at an on-campus visit.