Birmingham, Alabama, has a thriving legal community with more than 5,000 practicing attorneys, and is home to both federal and state courts, as well as numerous government agencies and nonprofits. Externships allow students to work with experienced lawyers and apply what they have learned. These opportunities provide a firsthand view of a particular area of practice. Students can enhance their advocacy skills through real-world practice in prosecutors’ offices, legal services programs, judges’ chambers and private law firms. Networking for future career options is also a vital aspect of these experiences.
Externships are open to all second- and third-year Cumberland School of Law students. The director of the Externship Program assists students in identifying appropriate placements. Students may also secure their own placements and present them to the director of the Externship Program for approval. As an extern, students are required to work 120 hours during a semester and will receive two credit hours (pass/fail) for each placement. Cumberland students are permitted to receive pay for approved externships. In addition, students who have successfully completed the Basic Skills in Trial Advocacy course and are certified under the Alabama Rule for Legal Internship may appear in court as trial counsel in some externships.
Students who are approved for an externship placement for the first time must also register to take Externship I. The course, combined with the externship placement, allows students to earn a total of three credit hours. Students can earn two additional credit hours through a second externship placement.
My judicial externship with Judge Martha Cook was great. It provided me with experience as well as comfort and familiarity within a judicial setting. The continuous opportunities to grow my network were also very beneficial. I think everyone should consider enrolling in the externship seminar. Not only do you receive class credit for gaining experience and boosting your resume, but you also receive valuable guidance and career advice from Professor Bonds. All students should think about doing an externship, especially a judicial clerkship.Zachary Kervin
Externship 1 Course
Externship I meets once per week to address topics such as professionalism and ethics, communication with supervisors and clients, bias in the legal profession, work-life integration, and networking. Students earn one graded credit and the course is offered in both the Fall and the Spring semester.
Types of Externship Placements
Corporate Externship I and II
Corporate placements seek to place students with in-house counsel in a variety of industries, including banking, construction, insurance, and health compliance.
Government Agency Externship I and II
Government placements can be at both the federal and state level. The U.S. Attorney’s office, State District Attorneys’ offices, Internal Revenue Service, National Labor Relations Board, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Federal and State Public Defenders’ Offices, and other comparable federal and state agencies are examples of government externships that may be available.
Judicial Externship I and II
Federal and state court judges regularly seek externs to assist them. To be eligible for an externship with a federal judge, students must be on the American Journal of Trial Advocacy, Cumberland Law Review or have other evidence of superior writing skills.
Litigation Externship I and II
The Litigation Externship I and II encompasses placements in private law practices.
Public Interest Externship I and II
Public interest externships include organizations such as Volunteer Lawyers Birmingham, YWCA Domestic Violence Clinic, the Department of Human Resources, the Legal Aid Society, Legal Services of Metro Birmingham, and other similar non-profits.
The externship program also is offered in the Summer and is available to students who wish to pursue an externship outside the Birmingham area. First-time externship students must still take the Externship I course which will be offered either virtually or in a condensed manner prior to and/or after the summer externship.
How to Apply
Students, are you interested in reviewing available placements and obtaining more information on externships?