Judicial Externships

If you would like to gain a practical understanding of the legal system while in Law School, a judicial externship will give you a front row seat.

As a student in this program, you’ll have the opportunity to work with a federal or state court judge—often researching and drafting orders or opinions. Most externs will also have the opportunity to observe court proceedings.

Program Requirements:

Externs receive two or three course credits graded pass/fail, upon satisfaction of externship requirements, which include:

  • 100 hours of unpaid work (for two credits) or 150 hours of unpaid work (for three credits)
  • Two individual meetings with the supervising professor
  • Two short essay assignments
  • Three short class meetings
Federal court externship

Students serve as law clerk interns in the chambers of one of the federal judges or magistrates in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana (Indianapolis). These externships generally require a great deal of research and writing with a limited opportunity to observe court proceedings.

Federal court externs may not be employed at a law firm during the period of their externship. 

Students placed in federal court must undergo a background check. Please review the following documents for further information:

State Appellate or Supreme Court Externship

Externs generally work on draft opinions under the direction of the judge and judicial clerks.  Most of the court’s caseload is criminal, although students sometimes work on civil cases as well. 

Indiana Supreme Court Externship

Externs primarily work on transfer memos, which require summarizing and analyzing briefs and lower court opinions in making recommendations regarding discretionary review by the Indiana Supreme Court.  Students interested in externships with the Indiana Supreme Court may be required to submit application materials directly to the justice(s) by the deadlines noted here

Chief Justice Rush Externship:  Externs can expect to work on all matters assigned to Chief Justice Rush’s law clerks---including writing memoranda discussing civil and criminal transfer petitions, writing oral argument memoranda, drafting merits opinions, and cite-checking draft opinions. Externs may also have the opportunity to moot arguments before Chief Justice Rush in preparation for oral argument. On all matters, Externs will receive constructive feedback and input on work product, and can expect to work in a collaborative environment alongside Chief Justice Rush’s clerks and administrative staff.

Externs for Justice David often work on transfer memos in both civil and criminal cases.  Externs for Justice Massa generally work on transfer memos in civil cases. 

STATE TRIAL Court Externship

Externships are available in the Marion Superior Court or with judges in other counties.  These externships offer the greatest opportunity to observe court proceedings and usually include a great deal of interaction with the judge. Students are generally assigned to two judges (one in the criminal division and one in the civil division) or may limit their placement to one court.

Other Judicial Externship programs

The Court Externship program at McKinney has also arranged externships with many other federal and state judges within and outside Indiana.

Finding the Best Fit:

Several factors should be considered in deciding which placement is best for you.  

  • What areas of law interest you?  Consider the types of cases each court hears.  For example, family law cases will be heard in state civil court.  Intellectual property cases generally land in federal court. 
  • Are you looking for intensive research and writing or an opportunity to observe court proceedings?  State trial court generally offers the most opportunities to observe proceedings.  Most other placements include significant research and writing. 
  • Where do you plan to practice after you graduate?  Externships are available not only in Indianapolis but in other counties and even other states.  Externs have a wonderful opportunity to learn more the court where they will likely practice.
  • Not sure what you want to do?  A placement in a state trial court that hears both civil and criminal cases offers the broadest opportunity to see different cases and types of proceedings. 

Before registering for a fall or spring judicial externship, you must complete the law school's Judicial Externship Application.  Summer externships generally require direct applications to the judge(s).  For more information, contact Professor Joel Schumm at jmschumm@iupui.edu or 317-278-4733.

For Judges:

Evaluation of Student Intern  DOC  |  PDF