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Engaged Learning


USF trains practice-ready graduates through hands-on legal work. Through our externship programs, you'll earn academic credit for fieldwork at government agencies, corporate legal departments, law firms, nonprofit organizations, and state and federal courts.

In addition to fieldwork, the programs include a faculty-taught course component. Through these classes, students examine legal and professional issues that arise in their fieldwork and receive an introduction to litigation preparation in anticipation of their postgraduate position. Faculty monitor the externships to ensure their quality as learning experiences. Students assume real-world responsibilities and develop professional relationships in contexts identical to those in which they may eventually practice.

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Civil and Criminal Law Externships

The Civil and Criminal Law Externship Program gives upper-division students the opportunity to put their education into practice by working at law firms, legal departments, and public interest organizations, and government agencies for academic credit.

The policies and requirements of the program are intended to ensure a high-quality experience for students working under the supervision of experienced practitioners.

My externship with Mixpanel prepared me to effectively represent a corporate client and properly advocate and guide the corporation in legal compliance. I also gained practical experience in contract negotiation and commercial transactions that transformed the material I was exposed to in my contract law course."

Sarah Estephan ’20 Claims Counsel, At-Bay

Judicial Externships

The Judicial Externship Program offers eligible upper-division students the chance to receive academic credit for positions as law clerks under the direct supervision of judges and research attorneys in state, federal and international courts.

The skills I learned are really helping me today in my practice. Both judges I externed with really took their time to teach me and show me how every decision being made by the Court affects real people—both in and outside of the courtroom. They became real mentors and made me feel that I can always come to them for advice about anything.”

Freya Ingalla ’18 Associate, Baker McKenzie

Students may extern in federal courts (Ninth Circuit, Northern District, including bankruptcy judges), the California Supreme Court, the California Courts of Appeal, California Superior Courts, and with Administrative Law Judges for 2 – 13 units depending on the court and academic term.

To receive credit for the externship, judicial externs are required to attend a one-day Judicial Orientation, which takes place shortly before or at the beginning of the semester. Externs also must submit evaluations and weekly timesheets, meet individually with the Director and Assistant Professor for the Externships, and complete other assignments as directed.

Each Friday, Judge Stuart Hing spent two hours conducting mock trial trainings with myself and other students where we practiced impromptu opening or closing statements, trial tactics, and observed prominent guest speakers. These skills will allow me to effectively advocate for my clients in writing or before the court."

Marianne Rittenburg ’15 Externed at the Alameda County Superior Court

Academic Eligibility and Other Criteria

Minimum GPA and other academic policy requirements apply in order for the student's externship to be approved for academic credit. Students are advised to work with the Office of Career Planning to prepare cover letters and resumes and to locate additional courts not listed in the Application Packet.

Recent Externships Across the Bay Area

Our students participated in more than 120 externships this year within San Francisco and the broader Bay Area. San Francisco is also home to numerous local courts, large law firms, and corporate headquarters that make the Bay Area a vibrant place to live and work.

Below are examples of recent externship placements:

Recent Civil Law Externship Placements

  • ACLU Immigrants Rights Project
  • Natural Resources Defense Council
  • Morgan, Lewis & Bockius
  • Oakland A's
  • Duane Morris LLP

Recent Criminal Law Externship Placements

  • US Attorney's Office Criminal Division
  • San Francisco Public Defender
  • San Francisco District Attorney's Office

Recent Judicial Externship Placements

  • Supreme Court of California
  • California Court of Appeal, First Appellate District
  • United States District Court, Northern District of California

Externship Employer Information

USF’s externship programs allows eligible upper-division law students to receive academic credit for internships (“externships”) they secure with law firms, corporate legal departments, nonprofits, government agencies, and state and federal courts. 

The programs provide students with the opportunity to include practical, hands-on experience as part of their law school education and is intended to ensure a high-quality experience for students working under the supervision of experienced practitioners who step into the role of professors and mentors, taking charge of the students’ legal education during the externship. 

If you would like to host a USF student, please call the Externship Programs Office at (415) 422-4467 or email externships@usfca.eduWe will assist interested employers in posting a job announcement on Simplicity, USF’s internal job board.  If the employer interviews and hires a student, the student will complete the externship application. After the Externship Programs Office receives the student’s application, the Externship Programs Office will contact the employer to request completion of the employer’s portion of the application. 

If you have any further questions, please contact us. We look forward to working with you.

International Externships

The International Externship Program offers eligible upper-division students real-world experiences with international law firms, multinational organizations, and non-governmental organizations in Vietnam, China, Mexico, and across Europe. Students learn how to do business and pursue justice in today’s global society.

My summer in Prague combined a rewarding professional and legal experience with the unique opportunity to live abroad as a law student. Working at Deloitte exposed me to various aspects of Czech and European law in a corporate law environment, while living in Prague allowed me to explore one of Europe’s most beautiful cities. I highly recommend the summer externship program to anyone interested in comparative and business law."

John Milesi ’21 Associate, Jones Day

Recent International Externship Placements

  • China: UNITALEN, Reed Smith
  • Czech Republic: Deloitte, People in Need
  • Europe-Intellectual Property: Trevisan & Cuonzo Avvocati (Milan), Heineken (Amsterdam)
  • Mexico: Ernst & Young, Instituto Para Las Mujeres en La Migracion
  • Vietnam: Baker McKenzie, Duane Morris