Thursday, March 24, 2016

What do law students gain by working as corporate externs?

This Corporate Counsel blog post discusses a popular extern program at SMU's Dedman School of Law:

What Law Students Gain When They Work as Corporate Externs

In today’s world, employers demand recent law graduates who can “hit the ground running.” And the experience students gain in corporate externships helps prepare them for those expectations. In the very first class session, I stress, “Your externship is a learning experience. It’s not the pathway to a legal job like a summer clerkship is with a law firm, but the skills, substantive experience, broader networks and stronger résumés you build through the program can make you more attractive to legal employers.”


The program helps students gain experience they can include on their résumés and makes them more attractive to prospective employers. I show them how to include their externship experience on their résumés, just as they would any other legal experience, so they can highlight the valuable training and practical experience they acquire over the course of the semester.


By the time students participate in the externship program as 3Ls, most have litigation experience working with a judge or a law firm. All too often, however, externs have no transactional experience, which can be much more difficult for students to obtain in law school. One of the side benefits of the externship program is that it provides a large number of transactional placements where students can work with contracts, conduct due diligence and attend negotiations. As an example, one student assisted attorneys with a credit agreement and observed the agreement evolve from the first draft to the closing. Another student worked on compliance checklists and schedules, allowing her to delve into regulations governing public companies and to review the company’s policies for compliance.


The program also provides students with educational experiences they could not obtain in the classroom. For example, students have the opportunity to work in very specialized practice areas it would be difficult for them to learn about in law school or at law firms, such as fashion law, cybersecurity, healthcare compliance, aviation taxation and food labeling law.


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Continued reading here.


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