VLS was one of the first law schools to allow students to earn a full semester of academic credit in an off-campus apprenticeship. Our individualized approach to experiential learning allows second- and third-year students to learn from practice by working directly with judges and lawyers across the nation and the globe. VLS faculty teach and coach students and their supervisors using online class discussion, journals, site visits, individual and group conferences, and frequent communications throughout the semester.
We offer three externship courses: the Semester in Practice (SiP), Judicial Externship, and Part-Time JD Externship:
Semester in Practice (SiP)
Through a full-time, semester-long externship, VLS students apprentice in legal practice with experienced supervisors at government agencies, nonprofits, corporations, and law firms in the U.S. and abroad.
In this semester-long practicum students work in judges’ chambers, where they learn about the process of judicial decision making by observing and participating in the functions of a court. Students work closely with a supervising judge to develop legal skills such as writing, research, and analytical skills.
Part-Time JD Externship
Similar to the Semester in Practice, the Part-Time JD Externship is a semester-long externship in which students work part-time with experienced supervisors in a variety of legal settings, including courts as well as public and private practice settings.
“This was the best thing I ever did in law school. I grew immensely over the course of the semester. I developed my critical thinking skills, and really learned to think like a lawyer.”
- Michael Hershberg JD’16, on his externship with The Access To Law Foundation, Atlanta, GA
VLS has an extensive network of experienced lawyers, judges, and qualified JD recipients with whom students may work, but students are not restricted to a finite list of externship options. Each semester, a significant number of students apprentice to legal professionals who are new to the VLS community.
During the externship semester, students also work one-on-one with an assigned faculty supervisor who serves as teacher, coach, mentor, and confidant throughout the semester. Faculty supervisors have significant experience in the legal profession outside of academia, offering students the benefit of their perspectives, along with the support necessary to successfully begin navigating the challenges of early professional experience.
Vermont Law students can begin the transition to a professional career before graduation through one or more JD Externship courses.