Public Interest Externships
The Public Interest Externship is open to any student who has completed the first year of legal studies and has a cumulative grade point average of at least 2.6. For more information on enrollment requirements, see the School of Law Rules relating to Clinics. Those students who wish to utilize an Illinois Student Practice License (711 License) must have completed 45 hours of law credit and be in good academic standing. Having a 711 License will allow students to represent clients and appear in court under the supervision of a licensed attorney.
Students who have not completed the requirements for obtaining a 711 License may still enroll in the course, but the work they can perform is more limited. Students who choose public interest law offices outside of Illinois will need to determine if they are eligible for that state’s student practice license.
Students who enroll in the Public Interest Externship will work in a publicly-funded law office which provides public "service" type legal assistance. These include state's attorney offices, public defender offices, legal service offices, offices associated with a public university which have licensed attorneys on staff, such as the SIU Legal Counsel, SIU Student Attorney or the SIU Athletic Department. Students may also work in non-profit organizations which have in house counsel and federal, state or local agencies which have attorneys on their staff. These agencies include the Department of Public Health in Springfield, Illinois, an office of the state attorney general, and similar agencies and offices. Students who wish to clerk for state or federal judges should enroll in the Judicial Extern Clinic course (Law 672).
Each placement site must be pre-approved by the course instructor. A list of currently approved sites is available here. If a student wants to arrange to do an extern placement in a qualified office which is not currently approved, the proposed site may apply for approval prior to the time the student enrolls for the course. Applications are available in Kaplan Hall, the Legal Clinic building. As a result, extern opportunities are available virtually anywhere there is a courthouse or a public interest or governmental law office.
The type of experiences a student has at an extern placement will vary with the type of office the student selects. State's Attorney and Public Defender externs get into court and do traffic and misdemeanor bench trials and other types of courtroom work (if they have a 711 License). Legal work done in agencies and legal services providers will also vary. Students should select an extern placement based on the types of skills they wish to develop and the experiences they desire. In addition to working in the chosen legal office, extern students must submit various paperwork throughout the semester and participate in class discussions via the course TWEN page. Students will also have a limited number of class sessions at the law school and at least two individual meetings with the Professor overseeing the course. Some extern sites require that a student submit an application and be selected by the attorney, so students should either contact the site or Professor Brittingham to ascertain whether that is required.
The externship course is graded on a modified Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory scale (S, S+, S-, U). To complete the course for three academic credits, students must complete 140 extern hours, with at least 20% of those hours from observing court and other proceedings. For six academic credits, students must complete at least 280 hours of externship work, including 20% as observation hours.
Summer Public Interest Extern Class Meetings
Externships may be done over the summer between the student's second and third years of law school. Students will need to plan ahead to accomplish this to be certain they have the general course requirements and appropriate prerequisites. Class sessions for the summer course will take place at the end of or immediately after the end of spring semester. This will allow students who have placements in offices located anywhere in the United States to spend their summer at their placement site and get started prior to the start of summer classes.