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 five different programs: Corporate Counsel, Environmental & Land Use Law, Judicial, Prosecution, and Public Interest (including public defenders, legal services lawyers, government attorneys, and many others.)

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 to maximize their ability to be part of these programs.  An information session will be held in advance of the deadline each semester for the following semester’s program.  

All programs are offered each fall and spring.  The Public Interest and Prosecution Programs are also 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 the Semester-In-Practice which enables a student to train outside of the law school full-time under the supervision of attorneys or judges.  The Semester-In-Practice Program 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 (neither can be Semester-In-Practice);
  • 2 In-House or Field Clinics; or
  • 1 Semester-In-Practice and 1 In-House or Field Clinic.
  • New York Pro Bono Scholars

Note: Each Clinical Externship requires students to register for a 2-credit graded seminar and 4, 6, or 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 lquinn@rwu.edu.

Corporate Counsel

Click to Open

The Corporate Counsel Clinical Externship Program enables students to earn academic credit while training either two, three or five days each week of the semester in the corporate legal offices of prominent for-profit and not-for-profit companies in Rhode Island and beyond.  Students work side-by-side with highly experienced in-house counsel on a vast range of legal subject matter areas encountered by companies on a national and international scope.  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 teaches the modern role of in-house counsel, the role of the trusted advisor to an “internal client,” and the critical nexus between legal and business knowledge through a Business for Lawyers Workshop; the seminar also teaches the professional development and effective lawyering skills germane to corporate counsel practice.  The companies currently participating are: Alex and Ani, Amica Insurance, Blue Cross Blue Shield, CVS Health, Care New England, Falvey Insurance Group, Fenway Sports Group, Gilbane Building Co., IGT, Kahn Litwin & Renzo, Moran Shipping Agencies, Naval Underseas Warfare College, Newport Experience, Sensata Technologies, Swarovski, and Textron.

David Gibbs
Director of Business Law, Corporate Counsel Clinical Externship Program
dgibbs@rwu.edu
(401) 254-4563

Environmental & Land Use Law

Click to Open

Through the Environmental and Land Use Law Clinical Externship Program, 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 in Rhode Island and southern New England. 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. Students participate in a two-credit, graded seminar “Advanced Topics in Environmental and Land Use Law” designed by the professor, after consultation with the field supervisors, to teach substantive law, regulation, and policy directly relevant to the students’ field work, as well as the ethics and legal skills required of an environmental attorney.

Dennis Esposito
Director/Professor 
desposito@rwu.edu
(401) 254-4575

Judicial

Click to Open

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 endure throughout a career. Students participate in a two-hour weekly seminar taught by a federal district court judge. 

Michael Yelnosky
Director/Dean/Professor
myelnosky@rwu.edu
401-254-4607

Prosecution

Click to Open

Through our Prosecution Clinical Externship Program, students earn academic credit while working in a prosecution office on the federal, state or municipal level. Students are eligible to appear in court as student attorneys in federal and state courts in Rhode Island and Massachusetts. Students gain valuable hands-on experience representing the government in criminal prosecutions. Students participate in a weekly two-hour seminar focusing on the challenging ethical issues of the prosecutorial role and issues within the criminal justice system.

Molly Cote
Director/Professor
mkcote@lynch-law.net

Public Interest

Click to Open

Through our Public Interest Clinical Externship Program, students earn academic credit while working  in a variety of non-profit or government settings. Students are eligible to appear in court as student attorneys in both Rhode Island and Massachusetts, and gain valuable hands-on experience representing low-income clients through civil legal services programs or public defender offices, advocating on behalf of the government in a variety of local or state agencies, or learning about policy development by working in local non-profit organizations. Students participate in a two-hour weekly seminar focused on reflective lawyering, professionalism, social justice, and ethics.

Laurie Barron
Fall and Spring Director/Professor
lbarron@rwu.edu
(401) 254-4653

&

Suzy Harrington-Steppen
Summer Director, Professor
sharrington-steppen@rwu.edu 
(401) 254-4559

Washington D.C. Semester-In-Practice Program

Click to Open

Through our new DC Semester-In-Practice Program, students can earn academic credit while working full-time in a government, 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 David Zlotnick. Professor Zlotnick is based full-time in Washington, working in the Office of Enforcement at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission where he also serves as the Training Coordinator.  He has over twelve years of experience in the DC Legal Market including as a judicial clerk, law firm associate, federal prosecutor, public interest lawyer, professor and now as a regulatory lawyer.

David Zlotnick
Director/Professor
dzlotnick@rwu.edu

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.