The externship program offers you opportunities to earn academic credit while performing real legal work in outside placements with government and non-profit agencies, judicial chambers and other entities. Law student externs work on active legal matters alongside supervising attorneys who provide feedback and guidance. Externships provide practical, real-world experience and connections that often prove to be advantages when entering the job market. You may be paid by an externship employer and may also use externships to fulfill your experiential learning requirement.

Externships for academic credit are typically for three hours, requiring 12 hours per week of work at your placement, and available only for students who have previously completed at least three semesters’ worth of course work toward their degree. (See Student Handbook (PDF), §3.13.5.)

For summer externships, you must work a total of 168 hours between May 21 and August 12. You also must work a minimum of 16 hours per week for a period of at least seven weeks of your summer externship and you may not work more than 40 hours in a week. For summer, fall and spring externships, work schedules will be determined by agreement among you, the externship director and placement supervisor. 

If you wish to use your externship to meet the experiential learning requirement you must enroll in a three-credit-hour externship and a concurrent one-hour classroom component, for a total of four credit hours.

If you would like to apply to participate in the College of Law externship program, have questions or would like additional information, please review the appropriate externship handbook and feel free to contact the director of externships, Justice Jack O'Malley, at lawexternship@niu.edu.

Externship Programs

For more information or questions about externships, please email the director, Justice Jack O'Malley, at lawexternship@niu.edu.

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In the Civil Externship program you are immersed in the practice of law under the supervision of attorneys in placements with government and non-profit agencies, and some other entities (but typically not private law firms). You will engage in many aspects of civil practice, which may include counseling clients, planning and other aspects of litigation, legal research and memorandum writing, negotiating with opposing parties, representing clients before administrative and judicial tribunals and transactional work.

In the Criminal Law Externship you are supervised directly by experienced assistant state's attorneys and assistant public defenders. You are encouraged to use 711 licenses to appear in court for motions, hearings and trials. You are able to apply the skills you have acquired in the Lawyering Skills and Trial Advocacy courses. The training received in this program has prepared many students for successful careers in criminal law, including positions at the offices of the state's attorneys and public defenders.

Pre-/co-requisites for this externship are Professional Responsibility and Lawyering Skills. Trial Advocacy, Criminal Procedure, and Evidence are highly recommended. You must also have a 711 license to participate in this program and have a grade point average of 2.2 or higher.

The Intercollegiate Athletics Externship in the NIU Huskie Athletics Compliance Office focuses on legal issues concerning intercollegiate athletic administration. You are also immersed in issues concerning NCAA regulation compliance, as well as many other aspects of collegiate athletic administration.

This externship experience is especially suited for students who are considering a career in athletic administration and/or have experience as a student athlete.

If you are interested in participating in the Huskie Athletics Externship Program, you should complete an application and meet with the faculty supervisor. An interview will be scheduled with the associate athletic director. All placements are subject to the approval of the associate athletic director and the faculty supervisor.

The Judicial Externship Program provides you with the opportunity to observe and participate in the legal process from the unique vantage point of the judiciary, while using and improving your research, writing and analytical skills. The program is limited to third-year students with a GPA of 2.8 or higher.

If you are interested in participating in the Judicial Externship Program, you should complete an application and meet with the director of externships to discuss your interests, both in terms of subject matter (for example, civil or criminal law, family law, probate, domestic violence) as well as court type and geographic location. The director will work with you to identify and secure an appropriate placement. All placements are subject to the approval of the supervising judge and the director. If you have already identified a judge you would like to work with, the director must still speak with the judge to determine if the placement will meet program requirements.

Through the Bridge to Practice Externship, third-year students work as legal externs for 40 hours per week. You receive twelve credit hours for completion of your field work and course work. The Bridge to Practice externship is designed to provide hands-on, practical learning experience to bridge the gap between classroom knowledge and professional experience, and help students transition from students to practicing lawyers. This externship is open only to students in their third year of study, with a grade point average of 3.0 or higher.

Past Bridge to Practice externs have worked full-time in Springfield, Illinois with a member of the state legislature or a state agency. However, Bridge to Practice externships may be performed in any part of the state, with government or non-government employers.