Judicial Externship

Judicial Externship

Course Description

Prerequisite: Completion of first year curriculum.

The Judicial Extern Program provides law students with a candid first hand experience in the judicial decision-making process. This is accomplished by placing students in a judge or justice's office for a specified number of hours each week to work directly with the judge in daily decision-making tasks.

Judges with whom students are placed are encouraged to maximize the educational experience by granting students access to events in the courtroom and in the judge's chambers. The judge should take time to explain his or her decision to the student and answer any questions. All facets of the judicial decision-making process should be open to discussion, including a candid critique of the quality of the presentations made by lawyers appearing before the judge. The judge should make an effort to introduce the student to other aspects of the daily working life of a judge which may influence the decision-making process, e.g., the judge's relationship to the clerk's office and other courthouse employees, the judge's administrative responsibilities for docket control, the judge's participation in judge's meetings, and the making and enforcement of courthouse policies and procedures.

Judges are encouraged to assign to the law student specific hands-on-tasks which will aid the student in becoming involved in the judicial decision-making process. These tasks may include such activities as summarizing case files, legal research, and document drafting. Judges should keep in mind that the quality of the educational experience for the law student is enhanced by both the depth and breadth of the tasks assigned. Judges are discouraged from overburdening the law student with research at the expense of a full exposure to judicial decision-making. No single task or narrow set of tasks should become the exclusive experience for the judicial extern and should not be assigned at the expense of the student's opportunity to observe and discuss the judge's daily decision-making. A judge may broaden and enrich a student's experience by occasionally requiring the student to observe or work with another judge.


Judicial Externships may be with any New Mexico State Court Judge, including Metropolitan Court, District Court (general, family, or children's divisions), Court of Appeals, and the Supreme Court Justices. Externships may also be with U.S. District Court Judges, U.S. Magistrate Judges, and U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judges and any Tribal Judge. Placements are made only with judges or justices who have expressed interest in supervising a judicial extern.

Students interested in Judicial Externship should contact the Externship Coordinator to ascertain the judicial externship application process. All Externships must be approved by the Law School.

Second externships must involve a substantially different educational experience. For example, students are not permitted do two judicial externships. A student seeking a second externship must obtain academic advisement with the Externship Professor, and obtain written approval from the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs.


Students are not permitted to be paid for the hours they work in the Judicial Extern Program. Students receive three credit hours for successfully completing a judicial externship. The credit hours earned in the externship count toward the hours required to graduate from Law School, but they do not count toward the Law School clinical course requirement of six credit hours earned in an "in house" clinical course.

Office Hours and Class

During the Fall or Spring semesters, students are required to work twelve (12) hours each week, for fourteen (14) weeks in their extern placement, for a total of 168 hours to earn 3 credits. Students are required to work eight (8) hours each week, for fourteen (14) weeks in their extern placement, for a total of 112 hours to earn 2 credits.

In the Summer semester, students work sixteen (16) hours each week, for ten (10) weeks in their extern placement, for a total of 160 hours to earn 3 credits. Students are required to work a total of 104 hours in their extern placement to earn 2 credits.

A set schedule of office hours must be arranged with a student's assigned judge or justice during the first week of the semester. The hours are to be set during the usual working hours of the judge or justice. A copy of the schedule is delivered to the judge and to the Externship Coordinator.

The actual hours worked by the student should generally conform to the scheduled office hours. With the permission of the supervising judge or justice, some flexibility is allowed to accommodate special circumstances, such as, illness or opportunity to engage in a particularly exciting educational experience outside of regularly scheduled hours. A student is not allowed to accumulate hours for the purpose of working fewer weeks. Exposure to the judicial extern experience over the course of a full semester is an essential component of the overall educational program.

The Externship Professor will arrange class sessions to be held during the semester. Attendance of the classes is mandatory, and the hours spent in these classes count as part of the weekly office hour’s requirement.

with your supervising judge or justice and provide a copy to the externship coordinator.

Activity Reports and Confidentiality

Every two weeks, students must submit activity reports to the Externship Coordinator. These reports account for the manner in which a student is spending his or her time in the extern placement. The reports must be sufficiently detailed to present a clear picture of what activities the student has been pursuing and what the student is learning. The report must contain the date of the student's activities, a description of the activities, and the total time expended on each day's activities. It is essential to the Judicial Extern Program that the judge feel free to communicate with the law student. Confidentiality of these communications must be assured. Students are strictly cautioned against breaching confidences and can be disciplined by the Law School for a breach of a confidential relationship. Discipline may include dropping the student from the extern program with a failing grade. In order to insure that confidences are not breached, the student extern and the student’s supervisor must sign all activity reports submitted to the externship coordinator.

Course Credit and Grading

Law students receive three law school credit hours for their work in the Judicial Extern Program. The course is graded credit/non-credit, C-, D+, D, D-, or F.

Final Evaluation by the Supervising Judge or Justice

At the end of each semester, the supervising judge or justice must submit a final evaluation of the student's work to the Externship Professor. The Extern Program Coordinator shortly before the completion of the semester will provide a copy of this form to the supervising judge or justice.


This description of the Judicial Extern Program is designed to anticipate common questions students and designated supervisors may have about the extern program. If questions or problems arise during the semester, do not hesitate to call the Externship Professor.

The School of Law believes that placing students in a judicial environment is a significant and valuable part of the educational program. We welcome suggestions for improvement from anyone interested in the program.