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Externships

Externships provide an unparalleled environment for real-world learning in judicial chambers, nonprofit and public interest organizations, government agencies and in-house counsels' offices, including those in the entertainment business. You will benefit from a hands-on opportunity to strengthen the skills you have been developing in law school — such as research, legal writing, interviewing witnesses and interacting with clients — while gaining new ones, such as preparing for negotiations or trials, or contributing research or draft language for legislation or regulations under development.

As an extern, you may be able to attend court proceedings, negotiations, chambers' conferences, mediations, depositions, internal strategy sessions, federal, state or local agency meetings or congressional committee hearings. Students in prosecutors' offices may appear in court for preliminary hearings and similar proceedings.

Other benefits of externing may include:

  • working under the careful supervision of a committed supervisor
  • drafting legal documents
  • learning to become more autonomous and better at directing your own work and growth
  • practicing the wide range of communication skills essential for effective lawyering
  • building negotiation skill
  • observing attorneys in practice settings
  • exploring different areas and styles of practice before you graduate
  • gaining an awareness of ethical issues
  • internalizing the values and ideals of the profession

Earn Academic Credit

You may receive academic credit as an extern. All externships are graded CR/D/F. You will have some flexibility to decide how many hours a week you will work; full-time externships are available.

The concurrent academic component of the externship course guides you as you evaluate and analyze your work, teaching you the skills to support your own growth when you no longer have professors or focused supervisors to do so.

Eligibility

You must complete your first year of studies before you are eligible to extern. Externships are available during the fall, spring or summer. You may extern twice during law school, but generally those externships must be at different placements.

Externship Placements

Over the years, USC Gould students have externed at an impressive and wide range of field placements. A representative sample includes:

Entertainment

  • Arclight
  • BET Networks
  • Dreamworks
  • Legendary Pictures
  • Lionsgate
  • Marvel
  • NBC Universal
  • SAG/AFTRA

Government

  • California and New York Attorneys General, various divisions
  • California Public Utilities Commission
  • District Attorney's Offices in several California counties
  • Judge Advocate General (JAG), Navy and Coast Guard
  • State and federal public defenders' offices
  • U.S. Attorneys' General Offices, criminal and civil divisions
  • U.S. Customs and Border Protection
  • U.S. Department of Justice
  • U.S. Federal Trade Commission
  • U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission
  • U.S. Small Business Administration

In-House Corporate Counsel

  • Aderans America Holdings
  • Healthsperian (Washington, D.C.)
  • WASH Family Laundry Systems
  • WestPark Capital

International

  • Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia
  • International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (the United Nations, at The Hague)
  • International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (at The Hague)

Judicial

  • California Courts of Appeal
  • Federal and state court chambers, at both trial and appellate levels, including the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and other circuits around the country
  • Federal bankruptcy chambers
  • Federal District Court chambers, including the Central District of California and others around the country
  • Los Angeles Superior Court
  • U.S. Court of International Trade

Nonprofit/Public Interest

  • Asians Advancing Justice
  • ACLU of Southern California
  • Children's Law Center of Los Angeles
  • Disability rights organizations
  • Labor unions and the National Labor Relations Board
  • Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles and other legal services offices around the country
  • LGBT rights advocacy, including the It Gets Better Project and the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund
  • Local school districts
  • Mental health advocacy entities
  • Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund
  • National Immigration Law Center and other immigration organizations
  • Public Counsel
  • Wage Justice Center

SC in DC

"SC in DC" offers a unique opportunity to learn how federal statues, regulations and policies are made, changed and understood in the nation's capital. Students may extern in Washington, D.C., during either the summer or academic year. In addition to the federal departments and commissions listed above, externships are available in Senate and Congressional offices and committees.

Additional Information

For more information, contact externships@law.usc.edu.

Jonathan Stanley 2017

My externship was with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. When I got there, they put me right to work assisting in the drafting of a notice of proposed rule-making for small-dollar loans. I was incredibly grateful for the opportunity to turn in work product, get feedback and improve my work over the semester.

Jonathan Stanley 2017
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

Felicia Cao 2017

My externship was with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia based in The Hague, Netherlands. It was rewarding being in a truly international workplace, assisting with the preparation of draft legal decisions, orders, and memoranda. I worked under the supervision of experienced legal officers who were open to discussing the goals I set for my externship. I was grateful to always receive feedback on my work.

Felicia Cao 2017
International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia

Douglas Hewlett, JD 2013

I worked at Legendary Pictures in the Legal & Business Affairs department during the summer after my first year of law school. It was a fantastic learning experience. I was quickly trusted with drafting various documents, including option purchase agreements, director agreements, producer agreements and writer agreements. As a USC student, I was constantly afforded unique and valuable opportunities.

Brian Adesman 2016
Legendary Pictures

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