Stepping Inside a Lawyer's World

UVA Law's Externships Program Allows Students to Gain Legal Skills and Experience With Real Issues
Emily Reeder and Danny Cohen

Emily Reeder '17, left, externed for Sen. Patrick Leahy, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Danny Cohen '17 externed with Sen. Sherrod Brown, the ranking Democrat of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs.

November 30, 2016

During her externship on Capitol Hill this fall, University of Virginia law student Emily Reeder had a front-row seat to a historic election cycle — and gained skills and connections that will last a lifetime. Reeder worked for Sen. Patrick Leahy, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee.

“By far the best part has been building relationships with Senate lawyers,” said Reeder, a participant in the UVA Law in DC program. “Not only has their feedback honed my legal skills, the opportunity to work alongside such accomplished staff provided incredible insights into the world of policy — and political lawyering — that is impossible to get in a classroom.” 

A total of 150 students have participated in the Externships Program at the University of Virginia School of Law since its launch in the spring of 2013.

The program allows law students to gain critical job skills and experience in the field by working full- or part-time in government and nonprofit positions for academic credit. So far students have worked in 109 offices around the United States and in Europe. (All employers)

Last year the program had the most participants in an academic year to date, with 44 students working for employers, ranging from the Department of Justice to the International Development Law Organization in Rome. This fall, 25 students signed up.

“In addition to honing important practical skills while working on real-world legal issues for actual clients, externs benefit from close mentoring by experienced practitioners in their fields,” said Externships Program Director Sprightley Ryan.

The program offers four paths to extern. This fall, 10 third-year law students are working full-time in Washington, D.C., and taking an evening seminar as part of the UVA Law in DC program. Five students are working full-time in other locations, and 10 have part-time externships and work 10 hours a week locally or in D.C.  Beginning this academic year, students may also extern full-time for three weeks during the January Term.

Reeder said her experience with the Senate Judiciary Committee, which allowed her to see the strategic planning and research that takes place both before and after the president announces executive appointments and judicial nominations, was “fascinating.”

In her role as a law clerk, she helped committee lawyers prepare for upcoming hearings, draft legislation and write memoranda on many topics, including Article III nominations, criminal justice reform, refugee resettlement and immigration policy, ​federal court jurisdiction and the First Amendment.

“I am heading into the last semester of law school with a much clearer vision for my career goals and greater confidence in my own legal skills,” she said.

 

Externship Placements, Spring 2013–Fall 2016

(numbers in parentheses indicate more than one student has externed)

Administrative Conference of the U.S., Washington, D.C. (4)

Alameda County Public Defender, California

Albemarle County (Virginia) Attorney’s Office (2)

American Cancer Society, Cancer Action Network, Washington, D.C.

Animal Welfare Institute, Washington, D.C.

Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law, Washington, D.C.

Brennan Center for Justice, New York City

Brooklyn Volunteer Lawyer’s Project

Children’s Law Center, Washington, D.C.

City of Chicago Law Department

Commodity Futures Trading Commission, International Enforcement Division, Washington D.C.

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Office of Enforcement, Washington, D.C.

County of Santa Barbara District Attorney’s Office, California

Demos: A Network for Ideas and Action, New York

Duke University Management Co., Durham, North Carolina

Federal Communications Commission, Office of Commissioner Clyburn, Washington, D.C.

Federal Election Commission, Washington, D.C.

                Office of Vice Chair Matthew S. Petersen

                Office of Vice Chair Steven T. Walther

Federal Public Defender, Western District of Virginia, Appellate Section (2)

Federal Public Defender, Eastern District of Virginia, Richmond

Federal Trade Commission, Bureau of Competition, Washington, D.C. (4)

Federal Trade Commission, Northeast Regional Office, New York City

Fluvanna County Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office, Palmyra, Virginia

Government Accountability Office, Office of General Counsel, Washington, D.C.

Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative, Chicago

Humane Society of the United States, Washington, D.C.

Institute for Justice, Arlington, Virginia

Internal Revenue Service, Office of Chief Counsel, Washington, D.C. (2)

International Bar Association, London

International Development Law Organization, Rome

Legal Aid Justice Center, Charlottesville, Virginia (2)

The Legal Aid Society (New York)

                Criminal Appeals Bureau

                Homeless Rights Project

                Trafficking Victims Legal Defense and Advocacy Project

Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office, Justice System Integrity Division

Lynchburg Public Defender’s Office, Virginia

National Labor Relations Board, San Francisco

National Public Radio, Washington, D.C.

National Women’s Law Center, Washington, D.C.

New York State Attorney General’s Office, Health Care Bureau

Office of the San Diego City Attorney

Overseas Private Investment Corp., Washington, D.C.

Pacific Legal Foundation, Sacramento, California

Pro Bono Partnership of Atlanta

Republican National Committee Office of General Counsel, Washington, D.C.

Rockingham County (Virginia) Commonwealth’s Attorney

Rutherford Institute, Charlottesville (3)

Southern Environmental Law Center, Charlottesville

Student Press Law Center, Washington, D.C.

Suffolk County (Massachusetts) District Attorney, Special Prosecutions Unit

Tahirih Justice Center, Falls Church, Virginia

Trout Unlimited, Berkeley, California

U.N. International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, The Hague

University Physicians Group, Charlottesville

U.S. Agency for International Development Office of General Counsel, Washington, D.C.

U.S. Attorney’s Office, Eastern District of Virginia

U.S. Attorney’s Office, Northern District of Georgia, Criminal Division

U.S. Attorney’s Office, Western District of Virginia, Appellate Division (4)

U.S. Department of Defense, Office of General Counsel, Washington, D.C.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Washington, D.C.

                Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation

                Food and Drug Administration, Office of Policy

U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Washington, D.C.

                Arlington Office of Chief Counsel

                Office of the Principal Legal Advisor (2)

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of Counsel, Houston (2)

U.S. Department of Justice, Antitrust Division, Washington, D.C.

                Criminal Section (2)

                Telecommunications Section

U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Special Litigation Section, Washington, D.C.

U.S. Department of Justice, Criminal Division, Washington, D.C.

                Appellate Section (2)

                Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section

                Fraud Section (2)

                Organized Crime and Gangs Section

U.S. Department of Justice, Environment Division, Washington, D.C.

                Environmental Enforcement Section

                Natural Resources Section

U.S. Department of Justice, Office of the Solicitor General, Research and Publications, Washington, D.C.

U.S. Department of State, Office of the Legal Adviser, Washington, D.C. (3)

U.S. Department of Treasury, Office of General Counsel, Washington, D.C.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Food and Drug Administration, Office of Policy, Washington, D.C.

U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, Washington, D.C.

U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Washington, D.C.

                Adjudication Section

                Complex Financial Instruments Unit

                Division of Corporation Finance

                Division of Economic and Risk Analysis

                Division of Investment Management

                Division of Trading and Markets

                Division of Enforcement (4)

U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Northeast Regional Office, New York City (3)

U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, Minority Staff, Washington, D.C. (2)

U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, Washington, D.C.

U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary, Sen. Patrick Leahy Staff, Washington, D.C. (2)

U.S. Sen. David Vitter, Washington, D.C.

U.S. Small Business Administration, Office of Litigation, Washington, D.C.

UVA Investment Management Co., Charlottesville

UVA Office of Human Resources, Compliance and Immigration Services, Charlottesville (2)

UVA Office of University Counsel, Charlottesville (13)

UVA School of Medicine, Office of Grants and Contracts, Charlottesville (2)

Virginia Capital Representation Resource Center, Charlottesville

Veterans Consortium Pro Bono Project, Washington, D.C.

Virginia House of Delegates, Richmond

Virginia Office of Attorney General, Richmond

                Consumer Protection Section (2)

                Criminal Appeals Section (3)

                Major Crimes and Emerging Threats Section (2)

                Medicaid Fraud Unit

                Transportation, Real Estate and Construction Division

                Real Estate and Land Use Section

Virginia Tech International Support Services, Blacksburg, Virginia

White House Counsel’s Office, Washington, D.C.

White House Office of Personnel, Washington, D.C.

White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, Washington, D.C.

World Bank, Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency, Washington, D.C.

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