clinics and centers: Externship Clinics

EXTERNSHIP CLINICS
Professor Susan Rutberg talks about GGU's Externship Clinical Programs:

Michele Neitz, Professor of Law and Director, Externship Program

Sandra Derian, Administrative Assistant, Law Career Services, Externship, & HLP

In externship clinics, students work under faculty supervision and the supervision of judges and attorneys in government agencies, law offices, counsel offices, and judges' chambers. Students also attend a seminar to share experiences and insights and to focus on the substantive nature of their work. The Externship Supervisor and Extern Agreement form may be downloaded (see below).


LAW 896J Externship: Capital Post-Conviction Defense Clinic (Fall)

Faculty supervisor: Adjunct Professor Aundre Herron (contact: aherron@capsf.org)
The Capital Post-Conviction Defense Clinic introduces students to the representation of indigent defendants challenging their convictions and death sentences on direct appeal and through habeas corpus proceedings in the California Supreme Court. Clinic students attend a mandatory weekly seminar and work on capital cases at the California Appellate Project, a non-profit legal resource corporation serving the largest population of condemned individuals in the country. Students assist private counsel appointed to represent indigent death row inmates with the research and drafting of pleadings, the investigation of claims, and by collecting and preserving evidence for their post-conviction claims. CAP is at 101 2nd St., Ste. 600. The seminar topics, reading materials, and class discussion serve as background to the tasks that students perform at CAP. These tasks may include: collection of life history documents; preparation of litigation outlines and chronologies; review of trial testimony, witness statements, and police reports for discrepancies; evaluation of crime scene evidence; researching and drafting of office memoranda and resource materials on various topics for panel attorneys; and drafting of appellate arguments and habeas corpus claims. In addition, CAP student externs are encouraged to attend oral arguments, participate in litigation meetings, and visit a client on death row. Limited to 10 students. Consent of instructor required.


LAW 896A Externship: Civil Field Placement Clinic (Fall, Spring, Summer)

Faculty supervisors: Adjunct Professors Jennifer Wyllie-Pletcher
(contact: jwpletcher@yahoo.com and David Ammons (contact: dwammons@sbcglobal.net)
Students find placements, or work with the instructors to locate appropriate placements, in privateĀ or non-profit law offices, government agencies, or business legal departmentsĀ as law clerks, working on civil litigation or engaging in transactional work. Students may work in a wide variety of areas such as civil rights, corporate law, entertainment law, family law, intellectual property law, international law, and personal injury law. The Civil Field Placement Clinic is offered for 2-4 units. The seminar will meet at least seven times per semester, or 5 times in the summer session. The purpose of the seminar is to provide an opportunity for reflection and learning from other students to strengthen the placement experience. Students are required to complete timesheets and answer journal questions. Attendance at the seminar and the placement is mandatory. Students must register, submit the Externship Clinic Application form, and include a current resume. Students should contact one of the instructors as early as possible to inform them of their placements or to discuss a plan for finding an appropriate placement. Students who seek placements that are within the jurisdiction of other clinics will be referred to those clinics.


LAW 896R Externship: Consumer Rights Clinic (Spring)

Faculty supervisor: Marie Appel (contact: mappel@sfbar.org)
The CRC is a collaboration with the Bar Association of San Francisco's Justice & Diversity Center at the BASF offices, a few blocks from the Law School, at 301 Battery Street, San Francisco. Students learn interviewing and counseling skills, as well as substantive consumer law, and assist attorneys in providing advice, counseling and limited legal representation, including drafting letters and basic pleadings such as answers and claims of exemption. Clinic clients face debt collection lawsuits and related issues. With instructor approval, students seeking a third unit, and certified by the State Bar, may be able to perform additional limited client representation, such as drafting and arguing motions in court. (Priority registration for Evening Part-Time students).


LAW 896F Externship: Criminal Litigation Clinic (Fall, Spring, Summer)

(summer and fall 2013, contact Susan Leff, Acting Director of Externship Programs and Adjunct Professor Acadia Senese aseneseggu@gmail.com)
(spring 2014, contact Professor Susan Rutberg srutberg@ggu.edu)
Students work in approved placements in a variety of state or federal criminal justice agencies including trial-level public defender or prosecution offices; appellate defenders or prosecutors; and a variety of other post-conviction programs. Students must contact the instructor at least four to six weeks before the term begins. For summer, students should apply as early as February 15th. Each of the approved placement offices has a person designated as the "coordinator of student volunteers. The student is responsible for contacting the coordinator to see if a placement is available and to learn about the requirements (e.g., the minimum number of hours that the employer requires to be worked each week). Initial contact may be by phone or email, followed by a confirming letter and a resume. Some agencies also require a writing sample. The cover letter should include the information that the student has, or will have, completed Criminal Law, Criminal Procedure, and Evidence before the term begins for which the clinic placement is sought. Litigation Certificate credit will be given for this clinic only if the student appears in federal court on the petty offense calendar or is certified by the State Bar Practical Training of Law Students Program. Certification application forms can be obtained from the Law Career Services Office or from the website of the California State Bar.


LLM 375E Externship: Environmental LLM Externship (Spring)

Faculty supervisor: Professor Alan Ramo (contact: aramo@ggu.edu)
LLM Environmental students work at an organization, agency or firm engaged in environmental law.


LAW 837D Externship: Family Law Clinic (Fall, Spring)

Faculty supervisor: Adjunct Professor Florence Sinay Phillips (contact: florence.phillips5249@yahoo.com)
This externship is designed to address a vastly underserved population: low income persons and families with urgent family law issues. Students obtain placements with practicing lawyers specializing in Family Law or with non-profit organizations, government agencies specializing in Family Law, to handle all aspects of Family Law cases at all stages, from client interview to representation at court hearings, assisting in trials, and writing legal briefs. Attending the seminar will provide insight into navigating the family court system in California, from obtaining interim orders, to discovery and trial, and post-trial remedies and determining as well as obtaining emergency remedies, such as emergency orders regarding children, domestic violence, including restraints against property dissipation. Students should have taken either Community Property, Family Law, or Family Law Practice, or be taking one of these courses contemporaneously with this externship (or by consent of instructor).


LAW 824D Externship: Homeless Advocacy Clinic (Spring)

Faculty supervisor: Adjunct Professor Katie Danielson (contact: kdanielson@sfbar.org)
Since 1995, GGU students have had the unique opportunity to learn interviewing, counseling and negotiation skills while supervised by faculty members and experienced lawyers at the Bar Association's Homeless Advocacy Project (HAP). Students undergo an intensive training, conduct simulated interviewing and counseling sessions in class at HAP's nearby Mission Street offices. At these "clinics" (3 or 4 spaced throughout the semester), students meet with poor people seeking access to legal help. Students will interview clients, identify legal and quasi-legal problems, and consult with their instructor and the HAP staff (lawyers, psychologists, and social workers) to develop solutions. In the class following each clinic, students present counseling plans for their clients to the group. Students advocate for clients in various ways: providing assistance in navigating through various bureaucratic waters; conducting negotiation via phone and letter writing; sometimes appearing with a client at hearings.


LAW 896C Externship: Judicial Externships (Fall, Spring, Summer)

Faculty supervisor: Teresa Wall-Cyb (contact: teresawallcyb@gmail.com)
Students work in federal, state, and administrative courts under the supervision of a judge or judicial law clerk. A full-time externship can require up to 13 units; most students take 3-5 units at a time. Students must attend a mandatory seminar on the first day of which is just before the start of the semester. Students who enroll in this course in a summer session are limited to 8 units of credit. Students must have completed 3 terms of law school, have completed or be concurrently enrolled in Evidence, and have a cumulative GPA of 2.5 for state trial court and 2.75 for appellate and federal court externships. Students must have the requisite GPA at the time of enrollment.


LAW 896K Externship: Legal Services for Children (Fall)

Faculty supervisor: Adjunct Professor Abigail Trillin (contact: Abigail@lsc-sf.org)
The goal of this course is to provide students with the lawyering skills, substantive legal knowledge, and training in non-legal areas to prepare them to be attorneys for children and other vulnerable populations. The course consists of a seminar and a supervised practicum, both of which will be held at Legal Services for Children (LSC). Although the work will focus on lawyering for children and youth, the skills and non-legal trainings will be relevant for any student with an interest in pursuing a career in public interest. The weekly seminar will be led by Exec. Director Trillin, who has been representing children for over sixteen years. Topics include discussion of specific cases, substantive legal training in education, foster care, guardianship and immigration, and additional training in non-legal topics relevant to attorneys working with children and other vulnerable populations, focused on advocacy for clients who have been impacted by trauma. The practicum component will include participation in LSC's warmline (a free and confidential help line), school expulsion hearings, guardianship proceedings, and immigration matters. Students will also assist on LSC policy/advocacy projects. Students will improve their skills in interviewing, issue spotting, case presentation and trial techniques, as well as gain familiarity with administrative hearings, state court hearings, federal immigration proceedings and policy work. Students are required to work at LSC for a minimum of 16 hours per week for 5 credits, including at least one afternoon, and may work 20 hours per week for 6 credits.


LAW 883 Externship: Real Estate Clinic (Fall-Transactions; Spring--Litigation)

Faculty supervisor: Professor Roger Bernhardt (contact: rbernhardt@ggu.edu)
Students may seek help from Law Career Services to find an approved placement. Students may propose their own placement for which they may seek instructor approval. Students will work in law firms that specialize in, or do considerable work in, real estate. Working under the direct supervision of real estate attorneys, students interview clients, draft pleadings and motions, and participate in trial preparation and trials. On the transactional side, they draft provisions for leases, sales contracts, closing papers, loan documents, and other real estate instruments. Co-Requisites: Real Estate Practice - Transactions (Fall); Real Estate Practice - Litigation (Spring). Prerequisites: Property I and II (students would have enrolled before or during fall 2010) OR Property (LAW 715) (or consent of instructor).


LAW 776A Externship: Veteran's Benefits

Faculty supervisor: Adjunct Professor Dan Devoy (contact: ddevoy@jonesdevoy.com)
Students have the opportunity to work as a team to process and argue cases for veteran's disability benefits through the Department of Veteran's Affairs or the Veteran's Board of Appeals by submitting written briefs and by personal appearance before the Board of Students. Students will be supervised by one attorney, but will work in teams of two. Prerequisite/Corequisite: LAW 776B Veteran's Benefits.


LAW 896M Externship: Advanced Legal Clinic (Fall, Spring)

Professor Susan Rutberg (contact: srutberg@ggu.edu)
(Contact Michele Neitz, Director of Externship Programs)
Students who have completed one or more Externship clinic in prior semesters and who wish to work again in the same field of law. The first class meeting will be arranged via email at a time convenient for all enrollees. At that first meeting, the instructor will set three more meetings over the course of the semester that do not conflict with students' schedules. Must have Externship Program Director's permission to enroll.

EXTERNSHIP FAQ

Contact Michele Neitz, Director of Externship Programs



Why should I be interested in gaining practical experience while in law school?

At Golden Gate University School of Law, all students are urged to participate in one or more forms of clinical legal education because our mission is to prepare our students to practice law, not merely to be ready to learn to practice law. To that end, we devote a substantial portion of our resources to skills training. Opportunities to gain lawyering experience outside the traditional classroom include:


What is an Externship Clinic?

The Externship Clinics, consistent with American Bar Association standards, offer students opportunities to earn credit while participating in practical training opportunities away from the law school campus. Also known as field placement clinics, these apprenticeship programs offer students course credit for attendance at a seminar plus full or part-time legal experience with practicing lawyers or judges in supervised settings, with academic oversight.


In addition to working at an approved placement, is there a classroom component to all externships?

Yes, students must attend a companion seminar that meets frequently, although not necessarily every week of the semester. See individual course descriptions for more information about the seminar.


Where can I work as an extern?

You can work at approved placement in government agencies, non-profits, civil law firms, companies, and judicial chambers.


How is being an extern different from being a paid law clerk?

Participation in these opportunities for experiential learning differs from paid legal work in two respects. The first is the high level of supervision and feedback provided by the field supervising attorney or judge; the second is the required externship seminar which accompanies and enriches the students' work experience. Note that the ABA prohibits students from receiving financial compensation for work for which they receive academic credit.


What will I learn from participating in an externship while in law school?

The overarching goal of our skills program is to help students become accomplished and reflective practitioners. In the seminar component of each externship, students explore ethical, substantive and procedural issues relevant to their practice. This combination of hands-on, supervised work experience and classroom discussion helps students develop professional skills and contacts, while enhancing their critical perspective of the issues confronting lawyers and legal institutions in modern society.


Who is eligible to enroll in an externship?

Students who have completed 1 year of law school, are in good academic standing, and have received consent of the particular field placement clinic instructor or the Director of Externships, are eligible to enroll in any of the non-judicial field placement clinics.

Students on academic probation are not eligible to apply to a clinic without permission from the Dean or Director for Student Services.

For judicial externships, students must have completed 3 terms of law school and must meet other GPA and course prerequisites.

Enrollment in clinic courses is limited in number, and prior permission of the instructor is necessary. Check the specific field placement course descriptions for additional prerequisites.


Can evening part-time (EPT) students participate in clinics and/or externship programs?

Yes. The Consumer Rights Clinic offer priority enrollment to EPT students. EPT students are encouraged to consult with the clinic directors or the Director of Externship Programs to see if the particular clinic can accommodate the student's schedule.


Are LLM students eligible for clinics and/or externship programs?

Yes, as long as there is space available.


How many hours do I have to work for each field placement unit?

For each unit, students must work for 45 hours at an approved placement. Hours spent preparing for and/or in the accompanying clinic seminar do not count toward the units earned.


Can I take more than one clinic/externship at a time?

Students who have completed one semester of clinic and wish to continue to earn clinic units in the same placement or field of law may take a clinic more than once as long as the student has not exceeded the maximum allowable clinic units described above. Those "repeaters" should enroll in Externship: Advanced Legal Clinic instead of the clinic they have already taken. Advanced Legal Clinic is limited to clinic "repeaters" and requires permission from the Director of Externships.


Are there limits on the number of clinic units I can earn during law school?

No JD student may receive more than a total of 13 units during law school for any combination of clinic courses. In rare circumstances and with consent of the instructor, the Dean or Director for Student Services may approve a total of 14 units.

Courses that count toward this unit limitation include all externships, clinics, and the Street Law Program. Note: the seminar portion of the in-house clinics (WERC and ELJC) counts as classroom, not clinic, units.


How many units can I earn through each of the clinical programs?

For specifics about each clinic and clinical course, see the Student Clinic Handbook

  • Judicial Externship Program: Students may earn 2-13 units.
  • In-House Clinics: Environmental Law and Justice Clinic or Women's Employment Rights Clinic are each offered for 1-3 units. Students must also enroll in a companion 3 unit seminar. Students may enroll in subsequent semesters in the in-house clinic with permission of the instructor. For more information on the office hours for the in-house clinics, see the Environmental Law and Justice Clinic and the Women's Employment Rights Clinic; Pro Bono Tax Clinic.
  • Externship: Field Placement Clinics: Students may earn 2-13 units. The option of earning additional units in one semester is available to students who have completed 3 terms and have a grade point average of 2.5 or better, and who have received permission from the Director of Externships. Students are encouraged to enroll for at least 3 units for their first externship experience.
  • Students are encouraged to enroll for at least 3 units for their first externship experience.

Note that students may choose to enroll in fewer hours than for which they are earning academic credit. For example, it is not uncommon for a student to work for 20 hours/week at a placement, but only enroll in the clinic for 3 units. Please see the Dean or Director for Student Services for advice regarding planning.


What Externship Clinics do we offer? And when?
  • Capital Post-Conviction Defense Clinic -- Fall
  • Civil Field Placement Clinic -- Fall, Spring and Summer
  • Consumer Rights Clinic -- Spring
  • Criminal Litigation Clinic -- Fall, Spring and Summer
  • *Environmental Law LLM Externship -- Spring
  • Family Law Clinic -- Fall and Spring
  • Homeless Advocacy Clinic -- Spring
  • Judicial Externships -- Fall, Spring and Summer
  • Legal Services for Children -- Fall
  • Real Estate Clinic -- Fall and Spring
  • Veteran's Benefits -- Fall and Spring

How do I find a placement? And apply to a clinic?
  • Work with Law Career Services to identify an area in which you'd like to gain practical experience and get referrals to placements.
  • Visit LCSonline for current listings, and review student evaluations of externship experiences.
    • Two ways to find a placement through LCSonline:
      • Method A
        1. Go to LCSonline
        2. click on "Student/Alumni Access"
        3. login - if you are missing your username or password, contact LCS at lawcareer@ggu.edu or (415) 442-6625
        4. In the menu bar, click on "Browse Employers"
        5. Under "Practice Area & Clinics" dropdown, select the field placement clinic for which you need a placement and click "Search"
        6. You will see a list of potential employers where students have previously worked as an extern earning academic credit. NOTE: Just because the employer is not listing any job openings, it does not mean that they do not have openings for externs. Contact the employer to find out if they are accepting students for academic credit for the upcoming semester.
      • Method B
        1. Follow steps 1-3 in Method A above
        2. In the menu bar, click on "View Job Listings"
        3. Enter in the "keyword" box words such as "credit," "volunteer," or "unpaid" and click "search" to find employers with current job openings; likely those employers are willing to be a supervising attorney for your externship if they won't pay. Find out from them if they are familiar with the GGU Law Externship Program. If they are not, ask if they would be able to take a moment to read more information about the program and meet with you about the position, then you can email the employer the document called Information for Prospective Supervising Attorneys. The document should help employers understand if the type of work they plan to assign qualifies them as a potential placement for students to earn academic credit. Your externship instructor can also answer any questions about expectations and requirements.
  • Contact the instructor for the relevant field placement clinic course. The instructor may assist in finding you a placement or direct you to find your own.
  • Fill out an Externship Application (Non-Judicial) or Judicial Externship Application and submit it, along with a current resume, to the Faculty Assistant for the Externship Program in room Law Career Services, or submit by email as instructed on the application.
  • Enroll in the class. You should enroll even if you haven't secured a placement yet. Remember to consult with the course instructor if you have any problems securing a placement.

When should I start looking for a placement?

Only students who have successfully completed their first year are eligible to receive credit for a field placement clinical experience. In most cases, students should begin seeking placements in the beginning of the semester PRIOR to the semester in which placement will be completed. (For example, begin applying for summer placements at the beginning of the spring semester.)


If I want to work as an extern for an agency or office away from the Bay Area and earn credit through one of our Externships, what do I have to do?

Placements that are located away from the Bay Area must receive special approval from the Director of Externship Programs. Please plan ahead and follow these steps:

  • Be a student in good academic standing.
  • Meet with the Dean or Director for Law Student Services to discuss how such a plan would fit in with your overall academic objectives.
  • Create a proposal listing the name and address of the place where you will be working, and describing in detail the work of the placement agency or office. Also include a detailed description of the work you would be doing as a supervised law student extern and explain your learning objectives. Make sure to provide contact information for your supervising attorney. Attach an unofficial transcript and a resume.
  • Submit your proposal to the Director of Externship Programs. The Director, in consultation with the appropriate Externship Clinic instructor, will determine whether or not to approve your proposed placement.
  • If your proposal is approved, enroll in the appropriate Externship Clinic and meet with your instructor to finalize details.

What if I don't have the minimum GPA for the Judicial Externship Seminar?

Students must have the requisite GPA at the time of enrollment. No exceptions will be granted.


What if I want to obtain practical skills but I haven't secured an externship?

Other options include: enroll in Lawyering Skills: Client Advocacy or the Street Law course. You can also investigate pro bono opportunities; participate in the Litigation Program and/or seek paid or volunteer positions. You can consult with LCS or consider enrolling in an externship clinic that provides a placement for you. In the Capital Post-Conviction Defense Clinic, students work at the California Appellate Project (CAP). In the Homeless Advocacy Clinic, students work at the Bar Association of San Francisco's Homeless Advocacy Project (HAP). Work with veteran's to help them obtain disability benefits by enrolling in the Veteran's Benefits externship clinic. Help the clients at the SF Bar's Justice & Diversity Center's Consumer Debt and Defense Education Clinic by enrolling in the Consumer Rights externship clinic.


*What is the difference between the Environmental Law LLM Externship and the Environmental Law and Justice Clinic?

The Environmental Law LLM Externship is the name for the course where students work as externs in off-campus environmental law placements. The Environmental Law and Justice Clinic is GGU's in-house clinic.