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Experiential Education

drug-court.jpgExperiential Education provides opportunities for students to engage in clinics, externships, and pro bono opportunities to gain hands-on practical experience.

Public Interest and Private Externships

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, private law firms, and offices associated with a public university that have licensed attorneys on staff, such as the SIU Legal Counsel, SIU Student Attorney, or the SIU Athletic Department. 

As students work in law offices or a judge's office they will learn real-world practical experiences. Students are able to work in legal offices throughout America where they can get credit and be paid if the job is a paying position. Students can get as many as 6 credits for working in a semester in a legal environment. 

For every 1 credit, a student must work 42.5 hours. For example, if a student wants to earn 6 credits they must work 255 hours. Multiply 42.5 times the number of credits desired.

Judicial Externships

The Judicial Externship Clinic provides a unique opportunity for law students to learn about the legal system by working for a sitting judge. While experiences vary from chamber to chamber, most placements allow Externs to hone their research and writing skills while learning how judges make decisions and observing a wide range of courtroom proceedings.

Pro Bono Requirement

SIU law students are required to complete 35 hours of pro bono work prior to graduation. While many schools encourage, support, or recognize pro bono work, this requirement was the first of its kind for a law school in Illinois.


Our students begin to grow into their roles as expert communicators, negotiators, and advocates as participants in a variety of hands-on learning opportunities, including our award-winning clinics. Serving residents in a 13-county area in southern Illinois, our legal clinics offer students the opportunity to work closely with clinical faculty while representing clients in a variety of cases.

Metro East Criminal Justice Experiential Learning Program

Third-year SIU law students live and take classes on the Southwestern Illinois Justice and Workforce Development Campus while working at various state and federal offices.


Bartylak Fellowship Program

The Joseph R. Bartylak Public Interest Fellowship Program was created to assist students who accept nonpaying, full-time (defined as 35 or more hours per week/7 weeks), public interest summer internships following their first or second year of law school.

The Fellowship Program is named in honor of the Joseph Bartylak, who served as executive director of the Land of Lincoln Assistance Foundation from 1976 to 2004. SIU School of Law set up the fellowship in July 2004 after it received $425,000 in unclaimed funds from the 2001 settlement of a consumer protection lawsuit involving MCI.

“Public interest” is defined liberally and includes internships in any non-profit legal office, including but not limited to governmental agencies, non-governmental organizations, consumer advocacy groups, and legal services offices. The funds are to be used to assist the Fellows in meeting their basic living expenses during the internship period.

Bartylak Fellows may participate in internships anywhere in the world; however, first priority shall be given to internship experiences in the “Metro East” area of St. Louis, Missouri (i.e., the Illinois side of the Mississippi River) and second priority shall be given to internships elsewhere in Illinois. Students receiving pay or externship credit for their summer experiences are not eligible for consideration to be a Bartylak Fellow.

The annual application process takes place each spring semester.