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Pepperdine | Caruso School of Law

JD Externships

Experiential Learning

Externships are field placements where students earn academic credit for qualifying legal work under supervision of experienced lawyers. Externships enable students to integrate theoretical knowledge of the law with the development of professional skills through practical experience under the supervision of the faculty, the bench and the bar. These experiences offer students unique and invaluable perspectives on the practice of law and the role of lawyers in society.

Participating law students develop and practice essential lawyering skills with real clients and cases, and under the direction of experienced supervising attorneys. Externships increase students' opportunities to build relationships with lawyers in practice while applying their legal education to practical service for clients. 


Once students complete the Externship Checklist, the Clinical Program Manager will register them for the course. Students can register for 1 to 10 units per term (up 22 units over their law school career) and are expected to work with their field supervisors and the Clinical Education Program to determine the appropriate number of units.

Important Dates

Summer 2024

First Day: May 20

Registration Deadline: May 24

Last Day: July 26

Fall 2024

First Day: August 16

Registration Deadline: August 30

Last Day: November 22

Spring 2025

First Day: January 6

Registration Deadline: January 24

Last Day: April 25


London Program

Students who are interested in registering for an externship while attending the Fall London Program should contact the Assistant Director of the London Program, Karen Haygreen. She will provide background information and next steps. 



Second- and third-year law students and master's degree candidates are eligible to participate in an externship. Registration is contingent upon an overall GPA of 2.3 and approval from Professor Fendel, Director of Externships. Externship placements are available across government, criminal law, entertainment, public interest, and judicial sectors, as well as in dispute resolution.


Prospective externs must secure their own placements. The placement must be for legal work that is under the direct supervision of a licensed attorney. Current openings are available through Symplicity or the Career Development Office. New placements are eligible for approval if they meet the clinical program's educational objectives and afford adequate field supervision.

Private law firms will be approved if they are either (1) nonprofit public interest entities (cf. section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code), regardless of whether the student is paid or unpaid, or (2) a for-profit entity where the student is paid. 

In order to build relationships, gather information, and provide support to placements during the course of the semester, someone from the Externship Program may conduct a site visit to field placements to discuss details about the placement, externs' progress, as well as other questions or concerns. Externship program staff will contact field supervisors directly and will schedule such visits at the convenience of the field supervisor.


Each unit of externship credit requires 50 hours* of completed field work. Hours spent in on-site work or with lawyers in the field placement count toward externship credit, while travel time, breaks, and most off-site work do not count toward externship credit. Students can earn up to 22 units of out-of-classroom credit toward graduation; these units include credit earned for externships, journals, and advocacy teams. Following the add/drop deadline, changes cannot be made to the number of registered units. Students are expected to register for the number of units that properly reflects the number of hours to be worked. If extenuating circumstances arise, students should contact Professor Fendel as soon as possible to request an exception.

*Beginning in Spring 2021, each unit of externship credit requires 50 hours of completed field work. 


Course Requirements


All externs are required to attend (first-time and returning externs). One hour may be used toward work hours.

Watch the Surf Report calendar for the date or contact the Clinical Program Manager

Summer Externs: as many externs are not on campus during the summer term, orientation may be conducted online. 

 Field Work & Timesheets

Students must document their time in the field using Tick Timekeeping Software. See instructions on how to enter time and submit timesheets. Students will receive an email directly from Tick Support to facilitate setting up their account.

Approved timesheets are due periodically throughout the semester (see syllabus for dates). Students may either (1) upload signed timesheets to Courses, or (2) email a PDF of their timesheets to their field supervisors for approval, copying clinicallaw@pepperdine.edu or (3) seek approval via e-signature. Note that students will not receive credit unless his or her field supervisor confirms approval of the timesheet via signature or email.

For an explanatory video about how to enter time and seek approval, visit Externship Timekeeping Overview.

 Reflective Memos

Reflective Memos are a forum for comments on progress towards the student's goals, the student's performance or the performance of other attorneys, any problems or frustrations in the work, the culture and function of their office, questions about the work or the profession and the people it serves, and issues about the law and lawyering. Because reflection and learning from experience are goals of the externship program, students should demonstrate thoughtful, serious consideration of these issues.

Students must complete and submit reflective memos via Courses by the dates specified in the syllabus (students may also find prompts in the syllabus). Students must:

  • Type their reflective memos
  • Each entry should be at least one page, double-spaced, and need be no longer than several well-thought out pages

 Feedback & Evaluations

Students should actively seek feedback, criticism and guidance from their field supervisors. Good feedback may be the most important component of a successful externship experience.

Share Goals

In order to initiate an environment of welcome feedback and open communication, externs are asked to share their goals for the semester with their Field Supervisor. Student may do so by either (1) sharing their first reflective memo (which concerns the students' goals) or a simplified list of goals derived from their first reflective memo with their Field Supervisor via email, copying clinicallaw@pepperdine.edu, or (2) email clinicallaw@pepperdine.edu a confirmation that they have had a conversation with their Field Supervisor about their goals.


Three evaluations are required throughout the term and will be accessed via Google Form shared by the Clinical Program Manager:

  • Mid-Semester Performance Evaluation: This is completed by the Field Supervisor and should facilitate a discussion between the extern and Field Supervisor about the extern's work.
  • Final Performance Evaluation: This is completed by the Field Supervisor and should facilitate a discussion between the extern and Field Supervisor about the extern's growth since the previous evaluation. 
  • Student Externship Evaluation: Externs are required to provide their own feedback by submitting a confidential student evaluation regarding the field placement and externship experience.
Summer Externs: due to the limited length of the summer term, the Field Supervisor is only required to complete one performance evaluation. 


Students enrolled in externship courses must be engaged in ongoing, contemporaneous, faculty-guided reflection. Depending on the students' experience with externships and/or the discretion of the Director of Externships, this takes one of three forms: 

  1. Bi-weekly workshop. Concurrent enrollment in one of the bi-weekly workshops is required for first time externs. All workshops begin the second week of the term and meet on alternating weeks. Workshop hours count toward work hours. Workshop days and times are available in the Caruso School of Law Course Schedule.
  2. Faculty Advisor. Faculty Advisors are required for first-time externs who are unable to attend a workshop due to conflicts with their class schedule. Externs with a faculty advisor must:
    1. Find a faculty advisor who is a full-time Caruso School of Law professor (see instructions for more guidance). Reach out and ask your potential faculty advisor if they are are willing, and able to take the time to mentor you during the semester.
    2. Obtain the approval of the Director of Externships.
    3. Meet with their approved faculty advisor approximately every other week (it is the student's responsibility to make sure these meetings are scheduled).
    4. Provide their faculty advisor with copies of their reflective memos and obtain approval on attendance of bi-weekly meetings.
  3. Meetings with the Director of Externships: Students who have already completed an externship and the required workshop (or faculty advisement) instead participate in two 15-minute meetings with the Director of Externships at midterm and end of the semester. The Clinical Program Manager will contact all returning externs to schedule these meetings.

Summer Externs: first-time externs will participate in an online workshop rather than meet on campus and returning externs will have one meeting with the Director of Externships.