Externship Programs

Public Interest Externship

Stephanie L. Johnson, Director of Externships and Public Interest Programming
Gwen Washington, Adjunct Professor
Adrienne Packard, Adjunct Professor 

The objective of the Public Interest Externship course is to help students learn through experience. In order to qualify for the externship program, the externship placement must be a judicial clerkship, or with a government agency, non profit organization, or law firm pro bono practice. 

During the Fall and Spring semesters, students are required to spend at least fifteen (15) hours per week for a minimum of eleven (11) weeks at their field placements, and will earn four (4) pass/fail credits or ten (10) hours per week for a minimum of eleven (11) weeks for three (3) pass/fail credits. During the Summer term, students may work at least thirty-five (35) hours per week for a minimum of eight (8) weeks at their placements for six (6) pass/fail credits or twenty-one (21) hours per week for a minimum of eight (8) weeks for four (4) pass/fail credits. Note that because students may enroll in no more than 8 credits during the summer term, the Records Office will reduce the award of externship credit to offset credits from other classes. The required Externship Seminar meets weekly. Evaluation will be based on the student’s performance at the placement site (by the law school supervisor and the field supervisor), participation in classroom sessions, student journals, project(s) and a final paper or presentation.

A student enrolled in the Externship Program shall not be permitted to enroll in a “live-client” clinical course offering during the same semester in which the student is enrolled in the Externship Program. Students are encouraged to identify their placements before applying for the externship program. Students are encouraged to discuss placement options with the Director of Externships and Public Interest Programming. Useful sites for researching placement opportunities include Symplicity.com, idealist.org, psjd.org, and the Clinical Law Center LinkedIn page

To be eligible for the Public Interest Externship, students must demonstrate:

  1. Successful completion of two (2) semesters of law school study;
  2. Successful completion of a course in Legal Reasoning, Research & Writing;
  3. Selection of a placement which has been approved by the Director of Externships and Public Interest Programming; and
  4. That they and their Attorney Field Supervisor have reviewed and signed the Externship contract which sets forth the responsibilities of the respective parties.

Advanced Public Interest Externship 

Stephanie L. Johnson, Director of Externships and Public Interest Programming

The Advanced Public Interest Externship Program is an option for students who have already successfully completed the Public Interest Externship (formally named "General Externship"), and are interested in pursuing a second externship placement. Generally, students are discouraged from spending more than one term at the same placement. Students who wish to return to the same placement must submit a memo to the Director of Externships and Public Interest Programming detailing why 1) their learning objectives cannot be achieved in a doctrinal or other experiential course; and 2) how their learning agenda differs from their first term at the placement.

Students are required to spend at least fifteen (15) hours per week for a minimum of eleven (11) weeks at their field placements in order to earn two (2) pass/fail credits. During the summer term, students must spend at least thirty-five (35) hours per week for a minimum of eight (8) weeks at their placements, and will earn four (4) pass/fail credits. There is no weekly seminar. Instead, students who are approved for the Advanced Public Interest Externship will have regular individual meetings with their externship professor to ensure quality of work at placement sites. Students will have to submit weekly journal entries, weekly time sheets to their professor and a final paper or presentation on an approved topic. A grade of “pass or fail” will be awarded.


Howard Law World Bank Group ADR Program

Homer C. La Rue, Professor and Supervising Attorney

Who can apply? Limited to rising 3Ls
Prerequisite Course: ADR Survey Course
Is the program year-long or semester-long? Year-long
How many credits? 8, upon completion of full year

About the Howard Law WBG ADR Program:

The Howard Law WBG ADR Program (“Program”) is a competitive eight (8) credit, year-long externship course. The Program is a collaboration between the Law School and various units of the internal justice system of the World Bank Group (the “WBG”) and the International Monetary Fund (the “Fund”).

The Program is a unique collaboration between the Law School ADR Clinic and the General Externship Program, to provide Howard Law students with a capstone ADR experience. Through this program, students are afforded an experiential opportunity to learn how alternative dispute resolution mechanisms function in an international organization. Activities include engagement in mediation services, internal investigations, neutral administrative dispute resolution, and leadership building.

Aligned with Howard Law’s mission of cultivating leaders who can advocate and defend the rights of all, the Program enables students to develop their highest capabilities and skills as lawyers in the international and alternative dispute resolution sectors.

What Are the WBG and the Fund?

The World Bank Group is the largest and most famous international development institution that extends financial and technical assistance to developing nations. Akin to Howard Law’s mission of engaging, as an institution, in pursuit of solutions to international problems, the WBG is committed to reducing poverty and building shared prosperity through reducing the share of the global population that lives in extreme poverty to 3 percent by 2030, and by increasing the incomes of the poorest 40 percent of people in every country. The WBG employs more than 9,000 individuals in over 100 offices worldwide; with a significant number of staff (approximately two-thirds) working in the WBG’s headquarters in Washington, DC.

The International Monetary Fund is an organization that was conceived at a United Nations conference to avoid a repetition of actions that contributed to the Great Depression of the 1930s. The IMF has near-global membership with a composition of 189 countries. The IMF also has its headquarters in Washington, DC. Like Howard Law’s mission of engaging in solutions to economic problems, the IMF’s primary purpose is to ensure stability of the international monetary system through fostering global monetary cooperation and working to reduce global poverty.

The internal conflict resolution systems of the WBG and the Fund provide both informal and formal means of addressing staff complaints and employee-related matters.

Acceptance into the Program:

The Program is open to a maximum of eleven (11) students each year. A prerequisite for acceptance in the Program is the ADR Survey Course; however, students who have not completed the ADR Survey Course by Spring may apply for the Program. Preference for acceptance will be given to students who have taken the ADR Survey course.  In addition, preference will be given to students who have a demonstrated interest in employment law and international relations, although, courses in employment law and international relations are not prerequisites for the Program.

Student-Work in the Program:

Acceptance into the Howard Law WBG ADR Program will be based on an application and an interview. Externs will work in one of the following units of the IJS: (1) Mediation Services; (2) Integrity Vice Presidency; (3) The Ethics and Business Conduct Vice Presidency; (4) The Staff Association; (5) The World Bank Administrative Tribunal; (6) Peer Review Services; (7) The Legal Institutional Administration; and (8) IMF-Office of Internal Investigations & Ethics Office. Students serve in their assigned unit(s) for the duration of the externship and must work between 13-16 hours per week at the site of the World Bank in Washington or the International Monetary Fund, DC. 

Classroom Component and Credit Hours:

There is a seminar classroom component which meets once per week for 75 minutes. Students will receive a total of eight (8) credit hours for the course, four (4) credits per semester—with the understanding that a student must complete both semesters of the course to receive any credit for the Program overall.


ADR Consortium Program

John Woods, Adjunct Professor

Who can apply? Rising 2Ls and 3Ls
Pre- or Co-Requisite Course: ADR Survey Course
Is the program year-long or semester-long? Year-long
How many credits? 8 upon completion of full year

What is ADR?: Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) is the use of processes such as negotiation, mediation, or arbitration to resolve disputes instead of litigation.

Areas of Law: Employment Law, Civil Rights Law, Human Rights Law, Administrative Law, Business Law, and International Trade.

Program Overview:
The mission of ADRC is to provide program participants with experiential education in the administration and application of ADR processes (i.e., negotiation, mediation, and arbitration) in government and industry.

ADRC consists of both a classroom and experiential component.

  • Classroom Component: ADRC includes a weekly seminar where students study the choices available to lawyers concerning the resolution of disputes. Through the use of simulated exercises, the classroom component will give students an opportunity to learn how to represent clients in dispute resolution processes other than litigation. Students will also learn the skills necessary to function as an effective third-party in various disputes. ADR processes that will be examined during this course include, but are not limited to, negotiation, mediation, and arbitration. 
  • Experiential Component: Program participants will gain practical experience in targeted ADR processes at partner organizations through work assignments and observations. Program participants will be placed and required to work on-site twelve (12) hours per week in both the Fall and the Spring semesters at a partner organization.

The objective of ADRC, in part, is to provide participating students with: (1) ADR skills development; (2) training to become problem solvers; (3) in-depth analysis of dispute resolution systems and processes; and (4) hands-on practical experience that bridges theory and practice.


Tax Externship

Alice Gresham Bullock, Dean Emerita, Professor of Law, and IRS Externship Founder
Alice Thomas, Associate Professor of Law and IRS Externship Coordinator

Who can apply? Rising 2Ls and 3Ls
Pre- or Co-Requisite Course: None
Is the program year-long or semester-long? Semester-long
How many credits? 4 

The Tax Externship was founded by renowned tax expert and former Dean of the Law School, Professor Emeritus Alice Gresham Bullock. In the course, students are placed in the Office of Chief Counsel of the Internal Revenue Service and the Tax Court here in Washington, DC. In the seminar, the professor exposes students to the practices, policies and procedures of the IRS, as well as the substantive tax laws that govern the work of the Service. Externs secure a field placement at the IRS or the Tax Court and are assigned to work on a variety of projects. Howard Law externs focus on excellence in governmental and public interest lawyering, social justice issues and professional responsibility. These key components are echoed in the work done at the field placement, as well as during the weekly one-hour required classroom seminars taught by the Professor.

The IRS Externship is a four (4)-credit course graded on a Pass/Fail basis. Students are required to work 15-20 hours per week for at least twelve (12) weeks (or other requirements set by the Professor). Students may not be paid for any portion of the field placement for which they are receiving credit. Evaluation will be based on the student’s performance at the placement site (by the law school supervisor and the field supervisor), participation in classroom seminars, periodic reviews of the student’s journal, written work and/or other assignments by the supervising professor. Students may have additional application requirements, such as submitting application materials directly to the IRS, and must follow up with the Professor regarding all application requirements.

For more information about the IRS Externship Program, please contact Professor Thomas. 


SEC Externship

Cheryl C. Nichols, Associate Professor and SEC Externship Coordinator
Bruce Sanders, Adjunct Professor 

Who can apply? Rising 2Ls and 3Ls
Prerequisite Course(s): None; however, the student must apply for and be accepted into the SEC’s Student Honors Program.
Is the program year-long or semester-long? Semester-long, Fall or Spring
How many credits? 4, on a pass-fail basis

Application Process

Students submit applications directly to the Securities and Exchange Commission ("SEC") on the USA Jobs website for a position in the  SEC's Student Honors Program. Students may be required to interview with SEC staff lawyers, and must keep the professor informed of each step of the application process. 

If the student accepts an offer from the SEC, then the professor automatically enrolls the student in the SEC Externhip Class where the student will earn 4 credit hours upon successful completion of the SEC program and class.

About the Program

The SEC Externship provides an exceptional opportunity for students to work as interns in the Washington, DC headquarters of the Securities and Exchange Commission ("SEC"). Students will also attend weekly classes taught by Professor Cheryl C. Nichols or Adjunct Professor Bruce Sanders, both experts in securities law, securities regulation and related areas.

Students accepted into the program are placed in the SEC’s Student Honors Program where students are assigned to work in one of the Divisions and Offices of the SEC.

Students gain valuable insights into the inner workings of the SEC, the various securities laws and regulations administered by the SEC, as well as the financial markets. 

Students have the opportunity to work on investigations of securities industry participants, securities issuer practices, administrative and civil enforcement actions, drafting of proposed rules, analyzing international securities regulations, and corporation finance, investment company issues, and broker-dealer regulatory matters. Students also review periodic reports of publicly traded companies, as well as securities registration statements and prospectuses of companies that sell securities to public investors.

Students work closely under the supervision and guidance of SEC staff lawyers, who also provide mentoring for students.Students attend educational seminars at the SEC led by senior Commission staff and prominent members of the securities bar and industry.

Students are required to work approximately fifteen (15) hours per week at the SEC for thirteen (13) weeks.

Students are are required to attend and participate in weekly seventy-five (75) minute seminars taught by the professor during the semester. The weekly seminars provide an overview of the mission and operations of the SEC, the workings of the financial markets, the Federal Securities Laws and Regulations, ethics in securities law practice, development of lawyering skills, and career opportunities for securities lawyers.

Students are evaluated based on their performance at SEC, active participation in classroom seminars, quality of required weekly journals and final paper, and their performance on other assignments assigned by the professor.

For more information about the SEC Externship Program, please contact Professor Sanders. 


Environmental Law Externship (Fall Only)

Michael Panfil, Adjunct Professor
Ben Longstreth, Adjunct Professor

Who can apply? Rising 2Ls and 3Ls
Prerequisite Course(s): None
Recommended Courses: Environmental or Energy Law Course; Administrative Law
Is this program year-long or semester-long? Semester-long 
How many credits? 3 or 4

Howard University School of Law’s Externship Program provides students the opportunity to partner with leading environmental institutions throughout the United States, including established collaboration with Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) and Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).

NRDC is a nationally recognized environmental advocacy and litigation firm with a variety of initiatives in many areas of environmental and public health.  EDF is an organization guided by science and economics with a global mission to preserve the natural systems on which all life depends.  

Through engagement with EDF, NRDC, and other environmental organizations, the environmental law externship program exposes students to substantive environmental law and the real-world practical experience of environmental lawyers. Students will use experiential learning techniques to reflect upon the work of the environmental lawyer, public interest lawyers in general and litigation in non-profit agencies. Students have the opportunity to work on actual cases, give topical presentations during the classroom seminar, and present a moot court argument.

Students will work under the supervision of attorneys at NDRC, EDF or an environmental placement of the student’s choosing. In addition to working at the placement, students will meet for a two (2) hour classroom session each week. These sessions will be devoted to the discussion of environmental law and policy and many will include a substantive presentation by an attorney from either EDF, NRDC or a distinguished visiting speaker. Students will be engaged in discussions on current issues in environmental law, environmental policy, and/or environmental lawyering skills, advocacy, legislative strategy, or administrative environmental regulation. Each student may be required to give a brief presentation to the class on an important environmental law or justice issue.  The Environmental Law Externship ("ELE") emphasizes environmental policy and litigation with a public interest perspective.

The ELE will accept a maximum of fourteen (14) students per semester in which it is offered. Students will receive three (3) or four (4) credits for successful completion of the course, which will be graded on a pass/fail basis. While there are no prerequisites for the course, recommended companion courses are Administrative Law, Introduction to Environmental Law, Sustainable Development and Environmental Justice. Students must submit applications to the Clinical Law Center during the regularly scheduled application period. While third year students are preferred, second year students with an articulated interest in the field will be considered.


Capital Habeas Corpus Externship (Spring Only)

Christina Mathieson, Adjunct Professor

Who can apply? Rising 2Ls and 3Ls
Prerequisite Course(s): Capital Punishment Law
Is this program year-long or semester-long? Spring Semester Only
How many credits? 4

In this course, students will be introduced to habeas law, a unique field that uses civil law to challenge wrongs in capital cases. All students will be expected to attend a weekly two (2) hour seminar that will introduce basic habeas concepts. The seminar will incorporate hands-on learning to teach the theories of habeas law to prepare students for their work in the practical component of the course.

In conjunction with the Habeas Corpus Seminar, students will also have the opportunity to work on actual cases, via a remote externship at a federal defender’s office. Each student will be assigned to a team led by an attorney engaged in litigation in the area of capital defense. Depending on the posture of the team’s case, students will be expected to produce substantive legal writing. For example, in a capital habeas case in state court, students will likely be heavily involved in the investigation, which will entail reading trial and hearing transcripts, interviewing or reviewing notes from interviews with witnesses, reviewing expert reports, and culling evidence to support legal claims. A student with a case in this posture might be expected to conduct legal research regarding the relevant potential issues to litigate and to prepare a legal memo outlining the anticipated issues, the necessary facts to develop the issues thoroughly, and any anticipated pitfalls. On the other hand, if a habeas case is in federal court, the students will likely be involved in more traditional legal research and assist in drafting briefs before the federal district courts or appellate courts. Students are expected to spend approximately 10-15 hours per week on course work.

For more information about this program, you can watch this video.


NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund (LDF) Externship

Michaele Turnage Young, Adjunct Professor

Who can apply? Rising 2Ls and 3Ls
Pre- or Co-Requisite Course: None
Is the program year-long or semester-long? Spring Semester Only
How many credits? 4 

This course engages students in legal practice at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF), the nation’s premier civil rights law organization, and in a critical examination of strategies employed to achieve racial equity and justice in four principal areas: education, voting rights and democratic governance, economic justice, and criminal justice. Students will be assigned to work on a case or matter in one of these areas and will have the opportunity to contribute to the development and execution of comprehensive legal strategies, that are grounded in litigation, but may also include policy/advocacy, strategic communications, public education and organizing. The course will consist of two parts: (1) a seminar component taught by a LDF attorney or attorneys; (2) an externship component whereby students are assigned to work on an individual case under the direction of LDF attorneys. Students will be required to commit 10-15 hours per week to fieldwork and to participate in weekly meetings with their LDF Team. 


Judicial Externship (Summer Only)

Yiyang Wu, Adjunct Professor

Who can apply? Rising 2Ls and 3Ls
Pre- or Co-Requisite Course: None
Is the program year-long or semester-long? Summer Semester Only
How many credits? 4 or 6 depending on number of hours worked

The Judicial Externship will focus on managing learning goals outside of the classroom, developing practical competencies associated with judicial clerkships. It is ideal both for any student with an interest in clerking after graduation. As with any externship seminar, a central component of this class is reflection that is specific to the substance as well as general reflection on issues such as access to justice and bias in the legal profession. During the summer term, students may spend at least thirty-five (35) hours per week for a minimum of eight (8) weeks at their placements for six (6) pass/fail credits or twenty-one (21) hours per week for a minimum of eight (8) weeks for four (4) pass/fail credits. Note that because students may enroll in no more than eight (8) credits during the summer term, the Records Office will reduce the award of externship credit to offset credits from other classes. The required Judicial Externship seminar meets weekly. Evaluation will be based on the student’s performance at the placement site (by the law school supervisor and the field supervisor), participation in classroom sessions, student journals and a final paper or presentation.