Clinical Externships

Our Clinical Externship Programs enable second and third-year students to earn academic credit while training under the supervision of public interest lawyers, corporate counsel, or judges through our externship programs: Corporate Counsel & Government, Environmental & Land Use Law, Judicial, Prosecution, Public Interest, New York Pro Bono Scholars and Washington D.C. Semester-In-Practice.

Since RWU Law is the only law school in the state, our students have access to plum opportunities in the legislative, executive, and judicial branches, both state and federal. Students must apply in advance and should seek advice from the Feinstein Center. An information session will be held in advance of the deadline each semester for the following semester’s program.  

Corporate Counsel & Government, Judicial, Prosecution, and Public Interest programs are offered each fall and spring semester. The Environmental & Land Use Law, Washington, D.C. Semester-In-Practice, and New York Pro Bono Scholars programs are spring semester only programs.  There is also a clinical externship program  offered in the summer. 

What is the difference between a Clinical Externship, In-House Clinic, and a Field Clinic?

In a Clinical Externship, a student trains outside of the law school under the supervision of attorneys or judges. Generally, the law student is assigned projects that deepen the students’ substantive knowledge and skill base. Students make valuable connections and learn lessons about the real-world of practice in a busy public interest law office, corporation, or judicial chambers. For students looking for an immersive experience, we offer each of our Clinical Externship programs in a Semester-In-Practice format, which enables a student to train outside of the law school full-time under the supervision of attorneys or judges.  A Semester-In-Practice allows a student to work either locally or in a remote location chosen by the student and approved by the Clinical Externship Director.

In an In-House Clinic, a student works in the Providence Law Clinic under the supervision of a full-time faculty member whose sole purpose is to teach students and direct the clinic.  Students handle a small number of their own cases from start to finish and, when the student practice rule permits it, are certified as student attorneys. 

In a Field Clinic, a student works outside of the law school under the supervision of an attorney who also serves as a member of our adjunct faculty.  Students are certified as student attorneys and handle a small number of their own cases from start to finish.

Opportunities

Each student at RWU Law is allowed to take advantage of these opportunities in the following program combinations, or, of course, by taking just one:

  • 1 Clinical Externship and 1 In-House or Field Clinic;
  • 2 Clinical Externships. Max of 12 Field Work Credits, total. (neither can be Semester-In-Practice);
  • 2 In-House or Field Clinics; or
  • 1 Semester-In-Practice and 1 In-House or Field Clinic.
  • 1 In-House or Field Clinic and New York Pro Bono Scholars 

Note: Each Clinical Externship requires students to register for a 2-credit graded seminar and from 4-12 credits of ungraded fieldwork credits.  Students must be selected by the director of each program.

For more information or to schedule a counseling session with the Feinstein Center, please contact zkhairuddin@rwu.edu.

Corporate Counsel & Government Clinical Externship

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The Corporate Counsel & Government Clinical Externship Program enables students to earn academic credit while training either two, three, four, or five days each week of the semester in the in-house corporate offices of prominent for-profit and not-for-profit entities or governmental agencies located in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and beyond.

Students work side-by-side with highly experienced attorneys on a vast range of legal subject matter areas encountered by in-house counsel at large-scale companies, nonprofit organizations, and governmental agencies on a national and international scope. Students conduct legal research, write memoranda of law, draft legal documents, and engage in other activities as assigned. Each student receives regular oversight, feedback, guidance, and mentorship from a designated supervising attorney, who also works with the student to design a meaningful lawyering experience for the semester. The Program includes a two-hour weekly seminar that focuses on, among other things, the modern role of in-house counsel, the role of the trusted advisor to an “internal client,” the unique ethical obligations facing in-house counsel, and the professional development and effective lawyering skills germane to in-house lawyering. Companies and organizations currently participating in the Program range from small, privately held businesses through publicly traded companies, and governmental offices at all levels.

Olivia Milonas
Clinical Professor of Law 
Director, Corporate Counsel Government Clinical Externship Program 
omilonas@rwu.edu
(401) 254-4525

Environmental & Land Use Law Clinical Externship

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The Environmental and Land Use Clinical Externship is a great opportunity for students interested in environmental and/or land use law to gain valuable, hands-on experience in a variety of placements. Students earn academic credit while training in legal offices or departments of government agencies and non-government organizations doing environmental and land use legal work. Externs are exposed to the various ways in which environmental and land use law is practiced by government agencies and non-government organizations through litigation, administrative rulemaking and adjudication, and engagement in the legislative process. Many regular placements are in Rhode Island and Southern New England, though students interested in a semester-in-practice or placements outside of New England are encouraged to reach out to Professor Wyman to explore other opportunities. Some examples of past placements include the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management, the Rhode Island Attorney General’s Environmental Unit, the Conservation Law Foundation, and the Department of Justice’s Aviation, Space & Admiralty Litigation Section. Students participate in a two-credit, graded seminar, “Advanced Topics in Environmental and Land Use Law,” that teaches substantive law, regulation, and policy directly relevant to the students’ field work, as well as the ethics and legal skills required of environmental and land use attorneys.

Julia Wyman
Director, Marine Affairs Institute & RI Sea Grant Legal Program
Adjunct Professor of Law 
jwyman@rwu.edu
(401) 254-4613

Judicial Clinical Externship

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Through our Judicial Clinical Externship Program, students have the opportunity to work with federal and state judges in both trial and appellate courts. Our students work directly with judges and are given assignments that are comparable to the assignments given to full-time law clerks. Our students learn first-hand about litigation by understanding what is persuasive to the court and how to interact with the judiciary. These once-in-a-lifetime opportunities create enduring mentoring relationships and valuable lawyering lessons that last throughout a career. Students participate in a two-hour weekly seminar taught by a federal district court judgeand a retired justice of the Rhode Island Supreme Court.

Michael J. Yelnosky
Professor of Law
myelnosky@rwu.edu
(401) 254-4607

Prosecution Clinical Externship

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In the Prosecution Externship Program, students train in a prosecution office at the federal, state or municipal level.  All students will be certified to appear in court, although the nature and frequency of court appearances will depend on the office and unit to which the student is assigned. Students should expect to draft motions and other criminal litigation documents, participate in witness interviews, and prepare themselves and/or assist prosecutors for court appearances and trials, including writing direct and cross-examination questions for grand jury, hearings, or trials.  Students will also get ample opportunity to observe criminal case proceedings. The weekly two-hour seminar will provide background on the legal, practical, and ethical issues that prosecutions face in their careers.

David Zlotnick
Professor of Experiential Education
dzlotnick@rwu.edu

Public Interest Clinical Externship

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Through our Public Interest Clinical Externship Program, students earn academic credit while working on behalf of low-income clients in marginalized communities.  Students may be eligible to appear in court as student attorneys in both Rhode Island and Massachusetts as well as other states.  Students in this program gain valuable hands-on experience representing clients through civil legal services programs, public defender offices, non-profit immigration organizations, and other non-profit organizations.  Students participate in a two-hour weekly Social Justice Lawyering Seminar focused on structural racism in the legal system and its impact on clients and lawyers, professional identity formation, and reflective lawyering.

Laurie Barron
Clinical Professor of Law  
Director of Clinical Externships
Director of Feinstein Center for Pro Bono and Experiential Education
Fall and Spring Public Interest Clinical Externship Director
lbarron@rwu.edu
(401) 254-4653

&

Suzy Harrington-Steppen
Clinical Professor of Law 
Associate Director of Pro Bono Programs

Summer Clinical Externship Program Director
sharrington-steppen@rwu.edu 
(401) 254-4559

Washington D.C. Semester-In-Practice Program

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Through our DC Semester-In-Practice Program, students earn academic credit while working full-time at an executive agency, congressional office, non-profit, or trade association setting. While in D.C., students will gain practical experience and training, meet and network with D.C. attorneys including established RWU alums, and explore the many ways that a J.D. degree is used in our nation's capital. This program provides an ideal opportunity for RWU Law students who are considering working in Washington D.C. after graduation to explore and plan for their future. 

Professor David Zlotnick will work with each student to arrange a placement that fits their personal goals. Students will earn 12 fieldwork credits working in their placement and an additional 2 graded credits for a two-hour weekly seminar taught by Professor Zlotnick. After over 15 years on the full-time RWU faculty, Professor Zlotnick is now based in Washington, working in the Office of Enforcement at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.  He has worked in the in the D.C.legal market as a judicial clerk, law firm associate, federal prosecutor, public interest lawyer, professor, and now as a regulatory lawyer. 

David Zlotnick
Professor of Experiential Education
dzlotnick@rwu.edu

New York Pro Bono Scholars Program

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RWU Law is proud to participate in the New York Pro Bono Scholars Program (NYPBSP), a program in New York State for qualifying third year law students.  Third year law students can spend 12 weeks of their final spring semester in law school providing full-time pro bono legal assistance to low-income people while participating in a required 2-credit weekly seminar.  In exchange, these students will be permitted to take the New York Bar Exam in February of their third year of law school and, assuming a passing score as well as successful completion of the New York Pro Bono Scholars Program and all graduation requirements, be admitted to practice as a member of the New York Bar or the Bar of any Uniform Bar Exam jurisdiction, as soon as possible after completion of the program.  Participation, Pro Bono placements and supervising attorneys must be approved by RWU Law.  New York Pro Bono Scholars will be able to participate in graduation ceremonies in May but will receive their diplomas in June.

Please refer to the New York Pro Bono Scholars Guide for a complete description of the requirements of the program and the kinds of pro bono work that are eligible.  Please note, however, that not all pro bono work that is eligible under the program will also comply with RWU Law’s program requirements.  Because the RWU Law program requires enrollment in a special section of the Public Interest Clinical Externship, placements in private law firms and corporate counsel offices will not qualify, nor will work in a law school clinic.  

http://www.nycourts.gov/attorneys/probonoscholars/ProBono-Scholars-Program-Guide-2014.pdf

Please also review the New York State Unified Court System’s Pro Bono Scholars Program website at:

http://www.nycourts.gov/ATTORNEYS/probonoscholars/index.shtml

For RWU Law specific information, guidelines and deadlines for the NYPBSP please review RWU Law Frequently Asked Questions For NYPBSP and NY Pro Bono Scholars Curricular Track.

If you have any questions about the program’s requirements or need assistance determining if the program is right for you, please contact Andy Horwitz, Assistant Dean for Experiential Education, at ahorwitz@rwu.edu.

To be considered for the NYPBSP, any interested student must submit a Pro Bono Scholars Application during the Clinic and Clinical Externship application period held during the spring semester of his or her second year.

Eliza Vorenberg
Clinical Professor of Law
Pro Bono Collaborative Director
Director of Pro Bono & Community Partnerships
evorenberg@rwu.edu  
(401) 254-4597

Close Course Type Descriptions

Course Types

We have classified RWU Law classes under the following headers. One of the following course types will be attached to each course which will allow students to narrow down their search while looking for classes.

Core Course

Students in the first and second year are required to take classes covering the following aspects of the law—contracts, torts, property, criminal law, civil procedure, and constitutional law, evidence, and professional responsibility.  Along with these aspects, the core curriculum will develop legal reasoning skills.

Elective

After finishing the core curriculum the remaining coursework toward the degree is completed through upper level elective courses.  Students can choose courses that peak their interests or courses that go along with the track they are following.

Seminar

Seminars are classes where teachers and small groups of students focus on a specific topic and the students complete a substantial research paper.

Clinics/Externships

Inhouse Clinics and Clinical Externships legal education is law school training in which students participate in client representation under the supervision of a practicing attorney or law professor.  RWU Law's Clinical Programs offer unique and effective learning opportunities and the opportunity for practical experience while still in law school.