SIU Law ranked #19 in 'top schools for externships'

Southern Illinois University



Illinois Appellate Courthouse 5th District

SIU Law ranked #19 in 'top schools for externships'

September 05, 2013, John Erbes, Director of Clinical and Experiential Education

SIU School of Law was recently ranked #19 in preLaw magazine's list of “top schools for externships.”  The ranking was based on the percentage of field placements to full-time students during the 2011-12 academic year.  SIU’s percentage during that year was 44.6%.

“We are pleased to be recognized in this ranking, but, more importantly, we are proud of our students for taking advantage of these experiential learning opportunities.  Externships are an important way for students to gain practical experience while in law school so that they can hit the ground running when they graduate,” said Dean Cynthia Fountaine. 

The law school has more than 200 approved public interest extern sites, and more than 70 approved judicial extern sites in both the federal and state court systems.  While faculty and staff at the law school have worked to establish and maintain connections with supervising attorneys at many of these sites, there are a large number of sites that were established through connections that law students have made on their own.

“Over the law school’s 40-year history, we have been fortunate to have many students who have taken the initiative to seek out opportunities at offices across the country.  Once those connections have been established, it makes it easier for the students who follow to take advantage of those opportunities as well,” said Assistant Professor Mark Brittingham, who oversees the Public Interest Externships.

Although the data that was used for preLaw magazine’s ranking was based on a previous year’s enrollment information, the number of SIU law students taking advantage of externships and other experiential learning opportunities has continued to be high.

Of the 131 members of the most recent graduating class, the class of 2013, 108 (82.4%) participated in either a field placement or a legal clinic.

Summer 2013 Externship Experiences

In the summer semester that just ended, ninety students participated in experiential learning activities through an externship or an in-house clinic.

Eighty-five students took advantage of the externship programs to gain invaluable legal experience and put their law school knowledge into practice. Of the eighty-five, fifty-nine students did public interest externships and twenty-six were judicial externs.

The judicial externs were in the offices of state and federal trial judges in Illinois, Missouri, Indiana, Kentucky, Nevada and Alabama as well as one Illinois appellate justice.

The public interest externs were spread across eleven states, Illinois, California, Georgia, Kentucky, Alabama, Missouri, Oklahoma, Iowa, Indiana, Wisconsin and DC/Virginia. They practiced in the offices of public defenders, prosecutors, city attorneys, legal aid attorneys as well as with the Air Force, Army, National Immigration Justice Center and the Great Rivers Foundation.

Those gaining practical experience in Illinois were in nineteen different counties from Johnson County to Cook County.

As evidence of the students’ enthusiasm and dedication, the judicial extern students greatly exceeded the number of hours of work required for the credit hours they were enrolled in. The twenty-six students accumulated almost an additional four hundred pro bono hours by continuing to work at their judicial sites beyond what was required for the externship course.