Field placements fall into one of three categories: Judicial, Public Interest, or Public Sector.
Each of these provides different experiential learning opportunities.
Externs in a judicial setting provide assistance to a judge in researching issues before the court and in drafting orders, internal memoranda, and opinions. Externs work closely with judges and senior law clerks, and are primarily engaged in legal research and writing. Externs also gain familiarity with court operations and observe various judicial proceedings.
Judicial externships offer unique learning experiences at both the trial and appellate level. Externs working at appellate courts generally conduct extensive research and draft lengthy memoranda, whereas externs at trial courts often write short memoranda related to pre-trial motions and trial-related issues such as proposed jury instructions or evidentiary questions.
Public Interest Externships:
Externs at public interest or nonprofit organizations focus on cases and causes that are significant to the general public. Some of these organizations provide legal services to disadvantaged and low-income individuals or groups and work directly with clients; others work on public policy and impact litigation and have relatively little client contact. Many public interest organizations seek to effect change in laws and use a variety of methods to that end, including policy research, legislative advocacy, and law reform litigation.
Public Sector Externships:
Externs in government service placements work at every level of government - local, state and federal - and in every branch of government - executive, legislative, and judicial. The range of lawyering activities at different offices varies greatly. Some public sector field placements are court based, such as those representing the government in prosecuting crimes, defending civil litigation, or enforcing statutes. Other field placements are based in administrative agencies or in executive or legislative branches. At these sites students primarily draft statutes and regulations, provide advice to public entities, or perform transactional work such as drafting and reviewing contracts.