Clinical Internship Program
Clinical Internship Program

The Clinical Internship Program is an essential component of the curriculum at California Western School of Law. The Program builds upon the strong practice foundation students receive in the second year STEPPS Program. The 14-week program gives third year students the opportunity to earn academic credit for legal work in not-for-profit agencies, private law offices, courts, corporations or government agencies. In these settings, students participate in legal work and acquire useful insights and experiences toward building their careers. The program develops and promotes the confidence, problem solving skills, and professionalism that lead to becoming practice ready attorneys.

For more information, contact Ruth Briscoe, Program Administrator, at rbriscoe@cwsl.edu or at 619-525-1438.



Goals
Opportunities
Credit
Requirements
How to Plan
Forms


Program Goals

Internship and clerking experiences are both valuable aspects of legal education. They are, however, different in focus. The chart below compares the law clerk experience to the internship experience:

LAW CLERK INTERN

Relationship with attorney Employer/employee Mentor/student
Purpose Produce Learn
Tasks and work Focus on needs of employer Focus on needs of intern
Expectations Efficiency and speed Understanding and learning
Exposure Work assigned Opportunity to engage in a variety of lawyering activities
Feedback Not primary focus Work reviewed and redone until correct
Compensation Money & experience Experience with supervision and academic credit

Internship Opportunities

Internship opportunities are available for every student who wishes to participate in the program and most California Western students participate in the Clinical Internship Program.

Full-time internships are encouraged as they provide the opportunity to take on actual lawyering responsibilities and challenges, resulting in the deepest learning experiences. Full-time interns are able to make the transition from law student to first year attorney during the internship.

Internship opportunities are almost unlimited. Students may intern in any type of office or area of law. Students may use the Program's pre-approved internship placements or self-initiate an internship in San Diego or anywhere in the world, adding a cultural experience to the hands-on learning opportunity. California Western students have interned in many countries in Asia, Europe, and South America.


International Internships: Lessons Learned

Academic Credit and Internship Seminar

Students intern for 14 weeks and spend from 20 to 40 hours per week at their internship, depending upon the number of units they are earning. Interns receive academic credit (pass/fail) rather than remuneration for their work. Students earn between 5 and 10 credits for their internship, each unit of credit representing 4 hours of internship per week. Every intern is required to enroll in the Internship Seminar for 1 unit.

Thus, a student interning 40 hours per week would receive a total of 11 units of credit, 10 pass/fail and 1 graded for the Seminar. The chart below lists the number of hours students must work at their internships depending upon the number of units they are receiving. Students may take other courses while interning, but may not exceed 16 units of credit.


International Internships: Advice from Students and Alumni

UNITS HOURS PER WEEK HOURS FOR TRIMESTER
5 20 280
6 24 336
7 28 392
8 32 448
9 36 504
10 40 560

The above does NOT count the 1 unit classroom component

In the weekly Internship Seminar, students have an an opportunity to share experiences and hear about a wide range of practice. The Seminar also provides a forum for discussing issues of concern to new lawyers, ranging from the most practical questions regarding professional etiquette, to the more theoretical considerations of ethics and morality. Students find these seminars to be an important source of support for making the transition from student to lawyer.

Students interning outside of San Diego, participate in a weekly seminar using a distance-learning program with a supervising faculty member and other out-of-town interns.


How to Plan for an Internship

Students must complete 89 units to graduate. After earning 28 units for the first year (full-time), students will need 61 units to graduate.

  1. After completing first year courses, meet with a Career Services Counselor to discuss career planning.
  2. Meet with faculty advisor to plan schedule for the second and third years.
  3. Visit the Clinical Internship Office to discuss internship opportunities.
  4. Acquire legal experience, at least one of which should be through the Pro Bono Program.

Students are strongly encouraged to plan for a full-time internship. Full-time internships require additional planning. Arrange to take all bar and graduation courses prior to the internship.

A few options to consider in the three trimesters prior to interning are:

  1. Take 2 trimesters of 17 units and 1 trimester of 16 units
  2. Reduce need for high course loads by taking 2 or 3 summer classes or a summer abroad program
  3. Take one 2 or 3 unit course while interning (only consider courses taught in the late afternoon or early evening)

Requirements

  1. Students must be in their last or next-to-last trimester of law school at the time the internship begins.

  2. Students are required to have a minimum of 50 hours of legal experience (paid, pro bono, or other volunteer) acquired since entering law school.

  3. Students may participate in the Program one trimester only.

  4. Students planning to intern outside of San Diego must arrange to attend the CWSL's Bar Review Course the trimester before or after their internship. See Dean Scheininger in the Academic Achievement Office for details.

  5. Students cannot be on, or in danger of going on, academic probation (Academic Policy 7.33).

  6. Some internships have specific class ranking, prerequisite courses or other requirements, as detailed in the internship notebooks. Please read these requirements carefully when looking through the notebooks. The District Attorney (all departments) City Attorney Criminal Division and the Public Defender's Office all have Trial Practice Co- or Pre-requisites.

  7. Students ordinarily may not intern with relatives, friends, or friends of relatives.

  8. Students interested in interning at an office where they are working or have been employed, must have their supervising attorney complete a Teaching/Learning Agreement.

  9. Students may not take more than 16 units of credit while interning.

  10. Students must complete the STEPPS Program.

Please click here to look at the Internship Calendar (opens as PDF document).


FORMS (open as PDF documents)


For more information contact:
Ruth A. Briscoe, Clinical Internship Program, 619-525-1438 or fax: 619-615-1438 or email: rbriscoe@cwsl.edu