Information for Students

Chicago-Kent offers three avenues for students to pursue externship opportunities in the areas of government, public interest, private, and for-profit firms and corporations. Examples of externships include working for the Office of the Illinois Attorney General and the U.S. Attorney’s Office; public defender offices; the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission; and numerous major law firms and nonprofits. All externships must be approved. The three types of externships include:

Judicial Externships acquaint you with the day-to-day operation of the courts as you work with trial and appellate court judges and their law clerks to research and write legal memoranda and draft opinions.

Legal Externships allow you to work in civil or criminal practice in a specialized area of your choice with supervising attorneys in federal, state, and local government agencies; corporate legal departments; or public interest organizations.

The Semester Law Firm Associate Program is a unique six credit program during which students have the opportunity to work for academic credit as “associates” for prestigious Chicago-based law firms. Students must spend 24 hours a week at the firm that selects them and also attend a classroom component. This program is only offered in the spring and fall semesters.

For updated information for the Summer and Fall 2024 semesters, please visit this page and watch for an announcement in the Record and SBA Newsletter. 

Judicial Externship Program

Judicial Externship Program (JEP) is a four credit hour, pass/low pass/fail program open to students who have completed at least their first full year of law school and want to do legal research and writing for a federal appellate, district or magistrate judge, or designated Illinois appellate or circuit court judges.

JEP enables a student to become involved in particular legal problems through research and writing, and to contribute to the resolution of those problems by participating in drafting memoranda and opinions. 

Depending upon the judge, an extern may also have the opportunity to observe the judge’s day-to-day routine and discuss with him/her the issues and problems that judges confront. Take advantage of this prestigious learning opportunity while enhancing your marketability in the legal world.

Informational Meeting: An informational meeting for students interested in participating in the Summer 2024 Judicial Externship Program was already held but we hope to hold another for the Fall semester in March. If you wish to view a prior meeting, one is available to watch on Panopto.

Application Process:  Applications, information on how to apply and a list of participating judges for the Summer 2024 Judicial Externship Program are now available here.  Completed applications should be submitted no later than 5:00 pm on February 26, 2024.  Dates for the Fall 2024 semester will be announced at a later date.  If you have any questions about the application process, reach out to Michael Oakes (moakes@kentlaw.iit.edu).  Note:  Before you apply, please know that you must be able to commit 16 hours/week during the fall and spring semesters; 32 hours/week in the summer.  If you have any questions about the Program, please contact Professor Jon Decatorsmith (jdecator@kentlaw.iit.edu).

Find your own judicial externship:  Students can find their own externship through posts made by individual chambers on the Career Services Management System 12twenty* or get placed with judges in various divisions via the Cook County application. In the Summer, students can also apply to judges via the Just the Beginning - A Pipeline Organization, and applications typically close by the end of January each year. 

Cover Letter and Resume Guidance:  Below are short guides on to help you prepare your cover letter and resume:

Cover Letter Guide

Writing Sample Guide

Domestic Relations Division Judicial Externships 

The Domestic Relations Division of the Circuit Court of Cook County welcomes students from law schools nationwide who choose to complement their coursework with a judicial externship. Any law student who has completed their first year is eligible. Preference will be given to applicants who have demonstrated an interest in family law and possess strong legal research and writing capabilities. 

Each extern will be assigned a Domestic Relations Division judge to work with during their externship. Under the direct supervision of their assigned judge, judicial externs are expected to conduct legal research, draft research memos, draft orders, provide basic procedural information to self-represented litigants, and complete other tasks as assigned to facilitate the efficient day-to-day administration of the judge’s courtroom. Externs will also have the chance to observe trials and other court proceedings. Additionally, the Domestic Relations Division hosts an orientation at the start of every semester, and all externs are paired with a division attorney mentor during the semester. 

Summer judicial externs are also able to observe other Divisions within the Circuit Court of Cook County through an exchange program. Summer judicial externships are a full-time, 40-hour/week commitment. Summer externships last a minimum of 8 weeks. Judicial externships with the Domestic Relations Division are unpaid; however, externs are encouraged to seek class credit or outside funding (e.g., from their law school). All externships are conducted in person. Judicial externs are prohibited from engaging in any outside legal work during their externship. 

To apply for a summer 2024 externship, applicants must submit a resume, transcript, and writing sample (not to exceed 10 pages) to Senior Division Attorney McKenna Deutsch at mckenna.deutsch@cookcountyil.gov by April 1, 2024. Externs must submit to a background check and drug test prior to the start of the externship.

Access2Practice (A2P) Legal Externship is a 4-credit-hour Pass/Fail program which enables Kent 2Ls and 3Ls to gain supervision/mentoring in a wide variety of legal areas – both civil and criminal.  Externs must work 16 hours per week during the Fall/Spring semesters and 32 hours per week in the Summer semester as well as attend a series of classes that focus on different legal areas and the often complex realities at the core of law practice.

The program does not assign students to particular field placements. Instead a student must first independently obtain an externship placement before applying to participate in and register for an Access2Practice Legal Externship. Each placement is independent and external to the law school and will have its own independent selection and screening process. 

Informational Meeting: An informational meeting for students interested in participating in the Summer 2024 Judicial Externship Program was already held but we hope to hold another for the Fall semester in March.

Application Process:  Externships can be found via Chicago-Kent’s extensive legal network.  For information on how to do this, follow our document on How to Apply for a Legal Externship Placement. Students can find their own externships through 12twenty*, the Career Services Management System. Newly posted externships will also be featured in The Record.  

Once a student has secured an externship, you must apply to the externship program by (1) informing Professor Decatorsmith via email (jdecator@kentlaw.iit.edu) and (2) filling out this Google Form.  This information allows us to keep track of student placements as well as give us the information needed to reach out to firms and confirm student placement.  The deadline for securing an externship in the summer is May 6, 2024.  

If you need assistance/need to be pointed in the right direction in terms of where to find Legal Externships, contact Michael Oakes (moakes@kentlaw.iit.edu) 

Semester Law Firm Associate Program (6 credits)

The Semester Law Firm Associate Program.  Chicago-Kent’s Semester Law Firm Associate Program is a unique for credit, non-graded program offered to 2Ls and 3Ls with a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.2.  Semester Associate externs will receive 6 credits and devote 24 hours a week during the semester to the fieldwork component (compared to other externship programs, which are only four credits and 16 hours a week). There is also an accompanying classroom component.   This program is only offered in the spring and fall semesters.

Information for the Fall 2024 semester will be forthcoming.