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Washington DC Externships

The Washington, DC, Externship Program offers students the practical experience of working full-time in a legal capacity for the government, non-profits, or other related entities, while completing additional coursework, networking for post-graduate employment, and experiencing the legal and cultural environment of our nation's vibrant and exciting capitol.

The Washington, DC, Externship Program endeavors to give students the opportunity to see how our government works, first-hand, through their externship experiences, enriched with classes and events to maximize the Program experience. To date, over 60% of our DC Program participants have secured employment in DC following graduation.

The DC Externship Program includes five major components:

Externships: Students complete full-time externships (35-40 hours per week for the duration of the semester) in approved positions in the three branches of government, as well as in non-profits and NGOs. Externship parameters require that students engage in legal work, that students be supervised by an attorney, and that positions be unpaid (certain stipends are permitted). Students enroll in and are expected to complete work equivalent to 10 credit hours during the semester (525 total working hours). Past Washington, DC, externship placements include congressional offices, the Constitution Project, the Department of Justice (including the U.S. Attorney's Office, the Office of Immigration Litigation, and the Criminal Division, Human Rights and Special Prosecutions), the Executive Office of the President, Heather Podesta + Partners, the Institute for Justice, the National Center for Victims of Crime, the Securities and Exchange Commission, the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, and the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.

Workshop: All Program students are required to enroll in and attend the Washington, DC, Externship Program Workshop, where students reflect on their externship experiences and actively participate in group discussion on topics including legal, ethical, and managerial issues that arise in the workplace, as well as effective lawyering skills. Students are required to complete a periodic journal in connection with the workshop. Students must complete the journal and workshop requirements in order to receive academic credit for their externships.

Academic Courses: Program students are required to enroll in Lawyering in the Nation's Capitol, a two-unit course that examines the roles of attorneys in the three branches of government, from both a practical standpoint and a policy perspective. This course features engaging and informative lecture about government structure and process, active student debate, and dynamic guest speakers. The Program also offers the opportunity to enroll in an additional course, Advanced Legal Writing, which exposes students to a variety of legal writing exercises, including adversarial writing, non-adversarial writing, and legal opinion writing. This course satisfies the upper-division writing requirement and is designed to complement the externship experience.

Networking: Students are encouraged to take advantage of numerous networking opportunities throughout the semester, including alumni-student events. The Washington, DC, Externship Program is also supported by an Alumni Advisory Committee, and students are matched with area alumni mentors. A DC Program Speaker Series also features guest speakers discussing specific legal practices in Washington, DC, exposing students to a diverse variety of DC-area legal jobs and potentially opening new career paths.

Culture: Students begin their semester in DC with an exciting tour of the city, as part of an orientation day program. During the course of the semester, students visit and tour Washington, DC, institutions, including the Capitol building, the Library of Congress, and the Supreme Court – where students meet with the Clerk of the Court.

Classes are held at Pepperdine University's Washington, DC, building, located at 2011 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW. Limited graduate student housing in the building (newly renovated in Fall 2012, with high-end furnishings and daily maid service) is available.

For more information, please contact Professor Nancy Hunt (nancy.hunt@pepperdine.edu), the Director for the Washington, DC, Externship Program, or Professor Carol Chase (carol.chase@pepperdine.edu), who oversees the program from Malibu.