Why You Need Externships

Today we have a guest post from 3L Libby Moyer. Libby extolls the virtues of externships. As you consider what courses you will select next semester, consider her wise words!

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Stop taking regular classes!! Just kidding…but you need to be doing externships. Experiential learning is the best thing you can do for your future career. I hate to tell you this, but employers don’t care much about your obscure civil procedure knowledge. Employers want to see that you have practical legal writing and research skills and can communicate and interact professionally.

I’ve done externships the past three semesters. I worked with the City of South Bend Legal Department, St. Joseph Circuit Court with Judge Broden, and Indiana Legal Services. In case it’s lost on my readers, I highly recommend externships!! Reach out to me (lmoyer1@nd.edu) with any questions. Below are more of my thoughts on the benefits of externships.

Practical Skills – You may have heard that law school prepares you on how to think like a lawyer but not how to be a lawyer. Externships allow you to practice the legal research and writing skills you learned 1L year. I wrote research memorandum, drafted city ordinances, edited appellate briefs, and advised my supervisors on the correct courses of action. I also sharpened my research skills by learning new ways to narrow and define my searches, utilize nontraditional search engines, and bring case law into my memos and recommendations.

Practicing Professionalism – Working in the real world is very different from learning in a classroom. For one thing, emails are VITAL to your success as a professional. Externships allow you to learn effective and professional email management skills. Externships also teach you the proper etiquette for the courtroom, judge’s chambers, legal aid, government, and corporate offices, and beyond. Don’t overestimate your communication, time management, and project management skills. Show your future employers that you have those skills by rocking your externships and securing glowing recommendations.

Engaging with the Community – Finally, we all know the Notre Dame campus can be a bubble of privilege and academia. Stepping into the community allows us to learn about people whose experiences are different from our own. Externships give you an opportunity to engage with community members and work on real legal issues within the community. My favorite experience was attending code enforcement hearings for the City of South Bend. While watching my trial advocacy course at work live, I also interacted with reporters, city officials and employees, and local community members. It was very heartening to watch the city employees and the hearing officer work with people going through difficult times and give them second chances.

You’ve read my reasons for doing externships, and I hope I’ve convinced you! Reach out to me if you would like to discuss my experience. Have a great semester!