DePaul University College of Law > Academics > Experiential Learning > Field Placement Program

Field Placement Program

With more than 3,500 externship placements since the creation of the Field Placement Program in 1974, the program has become a central part of students' professional skills training at the College of Law. Externships allow students to gain valuable career experience while making important professional contacts. Course credit is offered in exchange for placements with various government agencies, members of the judiciary, nonprofit organizations and for-profit organizations that are otherwise uncompensated.

The Field Placement Program is available to upper-level students who have completed 28 or more credit hours and who are in good academic standing with at least a 2.0 GPA. Full-time students earn 28 credit hours after the completion of their first year.

Students can complete externships in the spring, summer and fall. Students are limited to two semesters of participation, but if an externship takes place in summer, students may register for up to three semesters of externship credit.

Program Requirements

In order to receive academic credit, student-externs must fulfill the specific requirements described in the Course Handbook (available in Forms for Students below). Following is an abbreviated summary of the Field Placement Program requirements. Students must:​

  • Attend a mandatory, orientation meeting.
  • Complete either 120 hours of fieldwork for 2 class credits or 180 hours of fieldwork for 3 class credits.
  • Turn in two progress reports.
  • Keep and turn in a daily log weekly.
  • Meet with a faculty mentor (who is assigned to each student-extern after registration) at least three times.
  • Turn in a final report and supplement at the conclusion of the externship.

Information on available placements can be found outside the Field Placement Program Office, or by talking to the Field Placement Program assistant director. Placements are also posted on Vincent. All placements are approved on a case-by-case basis. Students apply on their own to their desired agency, as they would in order to obtain regular employment. For examples of placements, please see a list of all placements since fall 2011.

After students have been offered an externship, they must turn in a resume, a letter of intent, and an unofficial transcript to the Field Placement Program assistant director, in order to get registered for the Field Placement course and receive class credit. The Course Handbook provides guidance on how to do so. Please note that applications must be received at least two days before the last day to add a class for the semester. Once a student's application has been received, the Field Placement Program assistant director will tell the student if they have been approved for the course. If a student is approved, the assistant director will confirm that student has room in his or her class schedule for the Field Placement course, and will then process the student's registration.

Information for Employers

The Field Placement Program is always excited to expand its pool of placements and advertise new opportunities to students. It is very important that the externship experience is educational and that our student-externs receive valuable supervision. The program requires students to be supervised by a licensed attorney (preferably with 5+ years of experience). It is also important that the placement is compliant with the Fair Labor Standards Act.

The employer signs an affiliation agreement at the beginning of the semester detailing the students duties, signs-off on the first two student progress reports, completes a mid-semester evaluation, and fills-out an evaluation form of the students work at the end of the semester.

Before the program posts a new placement, employers should complete a questionnaire (available in Forms for Employers below) and return it to the Field Placement Program assistant director. If the opportunity is a fit for DePaul, the Field Placement Program will advertise to students. Externship placements are typically posted for the entire year on Vincent, our electronic job database, unless an employer prefers it to be posted based on demand. With new placement opportunities, generally only one student-extern will be placed during the first semester of participation.

Special Requirements in For-Profit Placements

Before approving a for-profit placement (a placement with a private law firm or in-house counsel with a corporation) the Field Placement Program assistant director will speak with the supervising attorney to ensure they can provide substantive legal work, adequate supervision and a mentoring relationship.

Additionally, a private law firm must:

  • Have at least three full-time, licensed attorneys in good standing with malpractice insurance.
  • Not bill for the student's work or for the supervising attorney's time spent mentoring the student. (Students are allowed to work on pro bono and contingency fee matters.)

Student-Externs cannot:

  • Obtain or use a 711 license in for-profit placements.
  • Use student Westlaw accounts for externship research.

The Field Placement Program assistant director or faculty mentor may visit the law office or corporation during the course of the semester.​​​​​​​