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The Truth about Externships

Are externships worth it? When should you participate in an externship? Keep reading to learn all about Casey Erwin's experience as an Extern for the Mississippi Supreme Court.

Most law students say they did not know what to expect when entering law school, but I honestly had no idea what I was getting myself into. In my 1L year, my only concern was going to class; I did not think about the extra stuff involved in being a law student. When OCI’s (on-campus interviewing) began in the spring semester of the 1L year, it hit me: I was unprepared to interview for an externship. Even though I worked as a legal assistant before law school, extending to a law firm where I was expected to know the standard for a 12(b)(6) motion scared me. On top of that, I am not from Mississippi and did not know many people. Long story short, I ended up not even trying to get an externship my first summer after 1L year, and that is the biggest regret I have had while in law school. During my 2L year, after I gave myself time to make connections, I decided it was time for me to get an externship.

When I began applying for externships and discussing the process with my friends and family outside of law school, I was often asked, “what’s the difference between that and an internship?” Honestly, I could not tell them the difference. Externships teach you how to become a professional. They are essential for making connections, learning how to work in the legal field, and evaluating what type of law interests you the most. Externships also allow you to be mentored by professionals who will provide guidance and feedback on your work performance. While some law students can get a paid externship, others extern for school credit, which is what I did.

For my externship, I had the fantastic opportunity to work with Justice David M. Ishee of the Mississippi Supreme Court. Once I got the externship and the reality of it settled, I thought, “now what?” During my externship, I learned a lot about the judicial system from the inside. I gained research and writing skills and a clearer understanding of what it takes to be a law clerk. I could also attend oral arguments and connect with others in the legal field within the Jackson area.
The truth is that law school does not prepare students for the real world. While in school, law students are taught how to get the externship, but different from what comes next. Externships are the most critical part of law school. Externships provide real-world experience and provide students with different skill sets that are often not taught in law school. Every externship teaches law students other skills, which is why exploring different law areas through externships is essential. I encourage all 1Ls reading this to take the time to apply for externships. 1L year is stressful, but being proactive in externship applications will make the law school journey less stressful.

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27 de out. de 2023

Great article Casey!

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