Externships "Learning by Serving"

Through the UNM School of Law's externship program, students gain real world legal skills while working with clients under the supervision of a licensed attorney in a non-profit, government agency, judicial setting or alternative dispute resolution placement. Externs will analyze legal problems and explore the various professional roles lawyers play while forming invaluable networking bonds. Students will be able to choose from dozens of placements in various areas of practice and with approval, may also tailor an individual externship that meets their interest.

Our law school sponsored non-profit externships have a particularly close intersection with themes of child and family justice and immigration.

Learn More about agency externships

Students may enroll in up to two externships during their time in law school and may take the course for either 2 or 3 credits (one (1) credit for every 42.5 hours of work in the placement). Externships include a required one-hour class component which will supplement the experience and count toward the overall hourly requirement. Students may be paid and receive credit for an externship.

More information can be found on the Course Description page (scroll down to near the bottom of the page and look under “Clinic and Externships”).  Carefully read the relevant course descriptions for these classes for further details.

For Students: Externship Search Process

Check Connect for current externship opportunity postings. Apply for an advertised, open position by uploading your application materials as instructed. The employer will then contact you for the next steps. Sometimes the employer will want to conduct an interview and then select the right fit for their position. If there is not a posting for an opportunity you are interested in, contact one of the SCSO professionals for an appointment to discuss how to search for and apply for an opportunity. Often there is an employer who may be interested if asked. Once you have successfully secured an offer, see the registration process below for the next step.

Registration Process

Once you have secured an externship placement, complete the registration form. Email your completed registration form to Hope Eckert for review and approval. Once approved the Registrar’s Office will be notified and will send a CRN by email for your enrollment in your my.unm account. Enrollment will not be permitted without prior approval.

See Opportunities for externships  Registration Form for externships

For Employers

Students will be available to work in an externship during a regular semester which is typically 15 weeks and in summer which is 10 weeks. Remember that you must advertise your position far enough in advance that you may interview and select before the start of each semester. The lawyer supervisor is expected to provide students with training in lawyering skills, such as, client interviewing, counseling, negotiation, legal drafting, case evaluation and planning, case management, time and office management, argumentation, and applied legal research. Students should be exposed to the professional responsibilities of a lawyer. Whenever ethical issues arise, the supervising lawyer is expected to explore these issues in depth with the student.

In order to receive credit for the class students are expected to produce ten (10) pages of written product which may be all one document or may be numerous items.

If you are interested in having a student extern you may advertise the position on our job posting system called Connect. Simply upload your position and students will reply with the application materials you request.

At the end of the externship the supervising attorney will complete an evaluation which is provided by the Student and Career Services Office.

Non-Profit and Government Agency Externships

The Non-Profit and Government Agency Externship Program allows students to work with a government agency, or non-profit organization under the supervision of a practicing lawyer to obtain knowledge and experience in the practice of law. Under supervision, externs have the opportunity to interview and counsel clients, negotiate with lawyers and others, make presentations in court, draft legal documents, conduct legal research, interview witnesses, and generally to perform and learn the various tasks and skills necessary to help a particular client resolve his or her legal problems.

Students enrolled in the Law Office Extern Program are governed by N.M.R. Civ. Pro. 1-094 and Rule 83.11 of the Local Rules for the United States District Court for the District of New Mexico. Students are required to conduct themselves at all times within the spirit and meaning of the Rules of Professional Conduct. Supervising lawyers must be sure that students understand and follow these rules.

Under these rules, students are granted the privilege to practice law while under the supervision of a properly licensed attorney designated by the Dean of the Law School and while the student is currently enrolled in the Law School clinical program. A lawyer other than the lawyer designated by the Law School as the student's supervisor is permitted to supervise the student only with the prior permission of the Law School.

Judicial Externships

The Judicial Extern Program provides law students first-hand experience with judges in state and federal courts. Students strengthen their legal research and writing skills by drafting bench memos, participating in drafting opinions, observing oral argument and being a part of the behind the scenes decision making process.

Alternative Dispute Resolution Externships

The Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Extern Program provides law students experience in mediation, arbitration and settlement facilitation. Under the supervision of licensed attorneys, ADR externs contribute to the ever-expanding role of alternative dispute resolution. ADR externs may interview and work with clients, negotiate with lawyers and others, and generally perform and learn the various tasks and skills necessary to help clients resolve legal problems.

Semester in Practice – Washington D.C. Program

The Semester in Washington D.C. Program allows students to spend the fall semester working in Washington D.C. with a government, non-profit, judicial placement or advocacy organization. Students are able to earn 12 credits through this program. Participating students also may enroll in a seminar class to earn an additional 3 credits.

Learn More about the Semester in Washington D.C. Program


The externship course is such a fun opportunity to take what we learn in the classroom and apply those skills in the real world. At the same time, you get to share the experience with other students and receive support from UNM faculty and professors along the way. The course creates a space to pursue your interests in different practice areas and truly discover what type of law you might want to do. I cannot recommend this course enough - I enjoyed it so much, I enrolled twice!

Mallory Christensen ‘21

Photo of mallory Christensen

During my 1L summer I completed an externship with the Law Offices of the Public Defender (LOPD) in Albuquerque. This externship was an invaluable experience which allowed me to be involved in trial preparation and enabled me to learn practical components of law. As an extern with the LOPD, I completed pre-trial interviews of witnesses, wrote memos and briefs on cases, and observed hearings and trials. Working closely with an attorney at LOPD, I was able to get hands-on experience in the field of Criminal Defense. I am thankful to UNMSOL and the LOPD for allowing law students the opportunity to gain practical legal experience through UNMSOL’s externship program.

Samantha Catalano ‘21

I was selected as one of 35 Rural Summer Legal Corps Fellows (out of over 400 applicants from across the U.S.) and worked at NM Legal Aid. I was supervised by Grace Allison, tax attorney. We launched an inaugural tax pilot project in Laguna Pueblo. I also conducted covid-safe client intakes utilizing our newly designed legal wellness tool.

Lora Church ‘21