The University of St. Thomas School of Law is committed to providing each student with relevant, practice-ready legal experience. The activities of each legal externship and the requests of field supervisors are designed to accelerate students' positive professional development and a substantive understanding of the law.

St. Thomas School of Law offers the opportunity to explore five areas of fieldwork: the judiciary, the public sector, the intersection of law and business, compliance and misdemeanor defense. Once a student has completed one of the five externships, they have the opportunity to participate in an advanced externship. These legal externship course credits qualify toward St. Thomas Law’s required experiential coursework. The legal externships are distinct course offerings, different from the law school’s required Mentor Externship Program.


Judicial Externship

The purpose of the judicial externship is to offer students an opportunity to learn about the judicial process, the role of judges and judicial clerks, and the impact lawyers have on the administration of justice. Judicial externs work under the direct supervision of a state or federal judge. They study the judicial decision-making process and evaluate the various legislative, ethical and policy considerations that influence judicial decisions. Judicial externs also provide legal research and analysis for various issues and cases pending before the court.

Fredrikson & Byron Public Interest Externship

The purpose of the Fredrikson & Byron public interest externship is to offer students an opportunity to learn about public interest practice while engaging in significant hands-on legal work in a field placement at a public interest organization, or state or federal government agency. Students may be asked to complete legal research, interview and meet with clients, and provide written materials for field supervisors. Students also will be asked to examine complex issues of ethics, access to justice, and broader public interest policies. This externship is named for Fredrikson & Byron, one of the top law firms in the Twin Cities, which also has a strong commitment to pro bono work and professionalism. 

Business Externship

The purpose of the business externship is to provide students with a pragmatic real-world experience obtained in a corporate or organizational environment. Students will engage in the basic activities of client service at the intersection of law and business. Both observation and hands-on work projects focus on the experiences of a first-year attorney in a corporate environment.  

Compliance Externship

The purpose of the compliance externship is to provide students interested in the compliance field an opportunity to see “compliance in action.” The ethics and compliance professional ensures that a company creates and maintains policies and procedures to promote and encourage ethical conduct and a commitment to compliance with the law. Externs will evaluate and complete compliance-related projects under the supervision of a professional in the compliance field. The course-work portion of the externship provides students with an understanding of the genesis of ethics and compliance programming guidelines and an overview of the elements of an effective compliance program. 

Misdemeanor Defense Externship

The purpose of the misdemeanor externship is to provide students with a hands-on experience in the criminal justice system, and an understanding of the challenges faced by clients, lawyers, judges and other participants in that system. Students will represent individual clients extensively in the courtroom under the supervision of a practicing public defender, and will gain litigation experience in interviewing clients, negotiating cases and representing clients in the courtroom.