Law Externship

The University of Dayton School of Law’s Online Hybrid J.D. externship course is an opportunity for you to apply what you have learned throughout the program in a real-world legal setting. As a legal extern, you will gain substantial hands-on experience similar to that of a lawyer advising and representing clients or engaging in other lawyering tasks in your field office.

This in-person component of the program allows you to explore your legal passions and decide which types of law you do and do not want to practice. During the externship, you will work closely with experienced practitioners or judges who will enhance your legal knowledge by teaching you invaluable lawyering skills essential to providing competent legal services to clients.

You will depart your law externship with a newfound network of accomplished legal professionals, close relationships with new mentors in the field and hands-on experience that can accelerate your future legal career.







course credits


semester in 4L

The semester-long law externship takes place during one of your final three semesters and consists of working on-site in a legal setting for a minimum of 192 hours for at least 10 weeks.

Your externship professor is available to provide guidance on identifying potential legal offices of interest. Once you have secured an externship position, it will be evaluated to ensure it meets the academic requirements of the program and will need to be approved by the externship professor.

An externship supervisor at your field office will be responsible for overseeing your daily responsibilities and progress. Your supervisor should be an experienced judge or attorney who will work closely with you and act as the main point of contact with the School of Law.

Learning Outcomes

The purpose of the law externship is to provide you with the opportunity to obtain significant practical experience in a legal setting similar to that of a lawyer, develop professional lawyering skills, and analyze and reflect critically on the experience from a variety of perspectives.

During the externship, you will have opportunities to apply the legal skills and knowledge learned in the Online Hybrid J.D. program by engaging in research, legal writing and analysis of legal problems that directly affect the office in which you work.

“This is without a doubt the most applicable thing I have done/learned in law school. There [have] been many opportunities to speak with the other judges and attorneys, and [the experience has] given me a chance to work on networking. Most of all, I have been able to see what I have learned in law school come to life in a professional setting.”

— Previous Judicial Extern

Prior to the start of the externship, you will work with your externship professor to develop specific learning objectives for your fieldwork. These will guide your experience throughout the semester. You can choose to focus on lawyering activities, such as:

  • client interactions and interviews
  • fact investigation
  • multitasking and organization
  • negotiation and oral communication
  • legal reading, writing and research

Throughout your law school externship, you will have the opportunity to reflect on your experience and discuss your performance with your supervisor.

Externship Opportunities

Law externships can take place in most legal settings, such as government agencies, law firms, corporations, courts or legal aid offices. University of Dayton School of Law students have participated in previous externships at:

  • Advocates for Basic Legal Equality (ABLE)
  • Airforce Research Laboratory
  • Grange Mutual Insurance Company House Counsel
  • Montgomery County Public Defender’s Office
  • The Legal Aid Society of Rochester, New York
  • Thompson Hine LLP
  • U.S. District Court, Southern District of Ohio
  • Virginia Poverty Law Center

Meet the Professor of Externships

Professor Denise Platfoot Lacey

Professor Platfoot Lacey teaches the externship course and directs the externship program. She joined the School of Law faculty in 2007, after having served for two years as the secretary to the Commission on Professionalism for the Supreme Court of Ohio. One of Professor Platfoot Lacey’s biggest passions is women’s issues in the legal profession.

By the end of the semester you see students feeling like, this is for me. I can do this. I want to do this.”

– Denise Platfoot Lacey, Professor of Externships

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I find a law externship?

You are responsible for securing an externship position in a field office and submitting it to your externship professor for approval. Your externship professor is available for a pre-placement counseling session to discuss your externship learning objectives and provide guidance on identifying potential field offices.

Resources, including externship deadlines, course requirements and potential externship positions, can be found on the Externships TWEN site. Current students can register on the TWEN site through their Westlaw accounts.

You must submit information about your proposed externship by the deadline in the semester before your final semester. Your externship professor will review your materials and assess if the chosen field office is a quality learning environment that will provide exposure to substantial legal work.

In determining if your externship is appropriate for course credit, the externship professor will consider the nature of the field office, the ability of the supervisor to mentor you and the appropriateness of the work anticipated. If you have previously worked or volunteered in any capacity at the field office or for the field supervisor, you and your supervisor must document how the proposed externship will be substantially different from the past work or volunteer experience.

Who qualifies as an externship supervisor?

Experienced attorneys and judges qualify as externship supervisors. Supervisors must be licensed for at least three years, in good standing and an employee or provider of legal services on behalf of the organization sponsoring the externship. They will be responsible for being available on-site when you are at your field office, directly supervising your externship responsibilities and providing feedback to you about your progress. They will also serve as the main contact for the School of Law externship professor.

How long is the externship?

You must work on-site at your field office for at least 10 weeks of the final semester and a total of at least 192 hours. If you work for every week of the semester, this translates into approximately two full work days per week. Additional coursework will accompany the field work.

Are externships paid?

You can find an externship that is either paid or unpaid. If your externship is approved, you will receive 4 course credits and gain invaluable experience and connections in the field.