Veronica Chacon heads the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University’s externship program, which has about 180 students participate each semester, working with more than 100 employers. Those numbers have steadily climbed over the past few years.

ASU Law boasts some of the best student outcomes in the country, in terms of bar-passage rates and job-placement numbers. A robust externship program offering an abundance of work opportunities with high-level employers is helping to drive that success. Ray English, assistant dean of career and employment services at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at ASU, speaks to students. His office manages the externship program. Photo courtesy of ASU Law Download Full Image

“Externships are invaluable,” Chacon said. “It’s a great way to figure out what it’s like to be a lawyer. And it’s a great way to explore practice areas, which is something we really encourage students to do. It’s often very difficult for students to narrow down what practice area they’re interested in, because until you’ve done it, you don’t really know what it’s like. And so not only from a career services standpoint does it help you find a postgraduation job, but I think it really enriches your law school experience to have this practical work experience as well as the amazing classes that you get here at the law school.”

Unlike internships, which students can seek out independently, externships are vetted by ASU Law and regulated by American Bar Association and university standards. Students must take a class in conjunction with their externships and are required to work a certain number of hours; they also receive class credit.

ASU Law has aggressively grown its externship program and offers several different types. The general externship program is mainly for positions in the Phoenix area, working with government agencies, nonprofit organizations, judges, law firms and corporate legal departments. A 3L residency program, which is exclusively for third-year students, is a full-year program working with small to midsize law firms. There are also externship programs for out-of-state positions.

“I really think it’s because firms are seeing how valuable it is […]

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