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
  • CASA
  • CitySquare LAW
  • Human Rights Initiative
  • Mosaic Family Services
  • Texas Lawyers for Children    
Corporate and Tax
Criminal Justice
  • Collin County District Attorney
  • Dallas County District Attorney
  • Dallas County District Attorney (Family Violence)
  • Dallas County Public Defender
  • Rockwall County District Attorney
  • U.S. 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
  • U.S. Attorney, Northern, Eastern, and Western Districts of Texas
  • Semester-in-Practice Congressional Externship, 
    Dallas office of U.S. House of Representative 
    Eddie Bernice Johnson
  • 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
  • Children's Health
International Affairs 
Multiple international locations
Intellectual Property
  • UTA Office of Technology Management
  • UTD Office of Technology Commercialization
  • UT Southwestern Office for Technology Development

Information for Current Students:  

Learn more about these externship placements and the application process by clicking here.  (Additional 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 Program.

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.
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