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SMU’s Externship Program provides students with the opportunity to learn by doing. They work in carefully selected legal settings under the supervision of a mentor-attorney and a member of the law faculty. Student externs observe and participate in lawyering tasks, gaining both valuable skills and a sense of the kind of lawyer they wish to become. In addition, externships foster sensitivity to the social, political and professional implications of the legal process.

Pre-Approved Externships

A large number of externships have been pre-approved. They provide students a chance to work with non-profit organizations, courts, government agencies, corporate counsel’s offices, and health care organizations. They give students exposure to the roles of judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys, advocates for the poor, advisers to businesses, enforcers of regulatory systems, and more.  Some externships also provide the opportunity to work abroad with international institutions.
Here are some of the externship opportunities that are available:
Non-Profit Agencies
CitySquare LAW
Human Rights Initiative
Mosaic Family Services
Texas Lawyers for Children
Corporate and Tax
Corporate Counsel Externship
IRS Chief Counsel (Dallas)
SMU Athletics Compliance Office
SMU Office of Legal Affairs
Criminal Justice
Collin County District Attorney
Dallas County District Attorney
Dallas County District Attorney (Family Violence)
Dallas County Public Defender
Rockwall County District Attorney
US Attorney, Northern, Eastern, and Western Districts of Texas
Federal and State Government
Department of Health & Human Services
Department of Housing & Urban Development
Environmental Protection Agency
Federal Trade Commission
Texas Attorney General, Consumer Affairs Division
US Attorney, Northern, Eastern, and Western Districts of Texas
Dallas Immigration Court (Executive Office for Immigration Review)
Dallas County District Courts
Dallas Court of Appeals
Texas Supreme Court
Texas State Court Education Program (multiple courts)
Health Care
Parkland Hospital
Texas Scottish Rite Hospital
Department of Health & Human Services
International Affairs (multiple international organizations)

Information for Current Students:  

Learn more about these externship placements and how to apply for the Fall 2015 and Summer 2015 Externships by following these links. (Extra information about applying for Dallas and Collin County District Attorney externships is available here.)

Please note that ABA accreditation rules require that students have successfully completed 28 credit hours toward the J.D. degree before participation in the externship program.  Therefore, 1E students are not eligible to participate in externships at the end of their first academic year.

Each February, students can also apply to participate the following fall in the Corporate Counsel Externship.

Student-Initiated Externships

Students also may apply to have appropriate unpaid legal internships recognized as for-credit externships. BEFORE THE STUDENT BEGINS WORKING, the student must find a faculty member willing to be the Faculty Supervisor and, together with the Faculty Advisor, be sure that the externship satisfies these rules. If it does, the student and Faculty Supervisor submit this Student New Externship Application Form to the Chair of the Curriculum Committee for its review. Students may not begin an externship for credit until it has been approved by the Curriculum Committee.

How to Register

After being selected for an externship, whether pre-approved or student initiated, the student must fill out and get the Faculty Supervisor’s signature on the Externship Registration Permission Form and follow these instructions.