Cumberland School of Law’s location in Birmingham affords students a thriving legal community with more than 4,000 practicing attorneys, federal and state courts and government agencies. We offer a strong externship program in:

  • judicial
  • litigation
  • corporate
  • government
  • public interest offices

Externships, coordinated through the director of clinical education, give students an opportunity to work with experienced lawyers and to apply in a real setting what they have learned in the classroom. These opportunities can afford students a closer look at a particular area of practice or area of law. In general, externships give students the opportunity to enhance their advocacy skills through real-world practice in various prosecutor’s offices, legal services programs, judge’s chambers and numerous other positions.

Networking for future career options is also a vital aspect of these experiences. Every student who wants an externship has the opportunity to participate.

Externship Placements

Externship registration is open to all second- and third-year students and is available for every Cumberland School of Law student who wants to participate. Students work 120 hours during a semester and receive two credit hours. Some placements have prerequisites. For example, the placement for the district attorney’s office requires that a third-year student must be certified under the Alabama Rule for Legal Internship. To qualify, the student must be approved by the Alabama Bar as a student, must have completed the second year of law school and must have successfully completed basic skills in trial advocacy.

Prior to the start of course registration, the Office of Clinical Education holds an information/registration meeting during the fall and spring semesters. Students are allowed to do six hours of placement/class hours. The first time a student participates in an externship, the student is required to take the one-credit-hour seminar class. If a student participates in a second externship, the student does not need to repeat the seminar class.

Judicial Observation

Students sign up to work within the office of a state court judge and are required to work a minimum of 56 hours and submit the following written work: a statement of goals at the beginning of the semester, a weekly report of hours with narrative description of activities, submission of a research 
paper, and a reflection essay.

Externship I

Students enrolled in any externship for the first time must also enroll in this class component. This externship class meets one hour each week. This class addresses substantive topics: negotiation, trial and other lawyering skills; professionalism and ethical issues; communication with supervisors, clients and others; workplace problems; and other issues applicable to all externs. Some classes have breakout sessions to address specific topics relevant to particular types of placements. Students enrolled in the externship class submit written work, including a statement of goals at the beginning of the semester, a weekly report of hours with narrative description of activities, submission of a research paper, a reflection essay. and others assignments made by the instructor.

Judicial Externship I and II

To be eligible for an externship with a federal judge, students must be on the American Journal of Trial Advocacy or Cumberland Law Review or have other evidence of superior writing skills. Many judges and magistrate judges in the Northern District of Alabama participate in this program.

Corporate Externship I and II

Corporate legal offices, banking, construction, health, real estate and patent offices have all participated in this program.

Litigation Externship I and II

Students may be placed in litigation offices such as the district attorney’s office, public defender’s office, Legal Aid Society and Legal Services of Metro Birmingham. Some of these placements require students to be certified under the Alabama Rule for Legal Internship and to the successful completion of the basic skills in trial advocacy course.

Government Agency Externship I and II

Students may be placed in a government agency such as the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Internal Revenue Service, National Labor Relations Board or the Equal Employment
Opportunity Commission.

Public Interest Externship I and ll

Organizations such as the Coalition Against Violence, Birmingham Volunteer Lawyer Program and the YWCA Domestic Violence Clinic participate in this program.

Summer Externships

The offices listed in the categories above also participate during the summer. The most significant change in the summer is that the Office of Clinical Education works with students to set up externships outside of the Birmingham metro area to help them network and broaden their experience in their field of interest. Below are places where students have worked:

  • United Nations, The Hague
  • Department of Justice, Narcotics and Dangerous Drug Section, Washington, D.C.
  • Federal Bureau of Investigation
  • University of Ohio, Athletics Compliance
  • San Francisco Bay Keepers
  • Solo practitioners and small law firms
  • Judge Advocate General (multiple placements across the U.S.)
  • Attorney General’s Offices (multiple placements across the U.S.)
  • States Attorney’s Offices (multiple placements across the U.S.)
  • Public Defender’s Offices (multiple placements across the U.S.)
  • Federal Judges (multiple placements across the U.S.)