Pathways To Practice

Pathways To Practice

Internships for academic credit or “externships” are available to students at NC Central University (NCCU) School of Law through the Clinical Program’s Pathways to Practice (PTP) course. This course is designed primarily for students who either (i) do not have an existing structured clinical program available to provide the same opportunity being sought, or (ii) the student has already completed that program and is seeking additional opportunities in the same area(s) of law. During PTP, students are provided with the opportunity to include practical, hands-on experience as part of their law school education by working under judges at federal and state levels and lawyers from government agencies, public interest groups, and corporate counsel offices, all of whom serve as mentors and onsite supervising attorneys for the students. The externships promote the students’ development of key lawyering skills such as legal analysis, research and writing, interviewing and counseling, negotiation, policymaking, and both informal and formal advocacy. Additionally, the PTP’s supervising attorney guides and facilitates the students’ exploration of their externship experience through classroom discussions and other assignments. Through their work with supervising attorneys, students critically examine their learning strategies, their goals and progress, develop self-directed learning habits, and gain an understanding of professional responsibility through the discussion of ethical and moral issues arising in practice.

Learning Objectives and Goals: Pathways to Practice (PTP) is designed to enhance traditional classroom instruction by engaging students in real life lawyering experiences with practicing attorneys. Through PTP, students are exposed to a particular practice area(s) and observe different lawyering styles and techniques while externing with various employers. Also, by working with practicing attorneys and the course instructor, students examine their learning strategies and progress, as well as develop self-directed learning habits.

PTP Options: Externship students complete a specified number of hours working under an onsite supervising attorney during the semester. Externship hours are scheduled at times and locations mutually convenient to the student and the supervisor. There are two PTP course offerings:

  • PTP I: a pass/fail course, open to first-semester 2Ls and above
  • PTP II: a graded course, open to students who have previously completed PTP

 In either course, students can choose to enroll for the following credit hours:

  • 2 Credit Hours = Minimum of 80 externship hours
  • 3 Credit Hours = Minimum of 120 externship hours
  • 4 Credit Hours = Minimum of 160 externship hours
  • 5 Credit Hours = Minimum of 200 externship hours (available during the summer only)

Other course requirements remain the same regardless of the number of credits for which a student is enrolled.

Finding an Eligible Externship Placement and Course Registration: Externship placements that qualify for academic credit through PTP include: (i) private law firms; (ii) local, state, or federal government; (iii) public interest organizations; (iv) businesses and corporations; and (v) state and federal judiciary. Students are responsible for securing their own placement. However, several externship opportunities and information about applying for externships are available through the Career Services Office. Additionally, depending on the placement being sought, there may be certain prerequisites the student must meet before being enrolled in the course. Finally, the student must be supervised directly by a licensed attorney with at least five years of practical legal experience.

The PTP supervising attorney will evaluate the academic achievement of the students and, when appropriate, meet with the onsite supervising attorneys to ensure the quality of the externship experience. Unless impractical, the PTP supervising attorney will also conduct an on-site visit to meet with the onsite supervising attorney and observe externship activities. Emphasis will be placed on visits to new externship placements.

Registration: Students will not be able to register for PTP courses via Banner. Students must have a placement proposal in place before being registered for the course. After the supervising attorney confirms the offer of the externship and completes an Information/Duties Form (available via the PTP TWEN page), the student should forward the form to the course instructor and identify the number of credit hours he/she is seeking. The instructor will then contact the law school registrar to request that the student be registered for the course.

Other Course Information And Requirements:

  • Timesheets, Journals, Class Meetings, PDO: Externship students submit weekly timesheets, write regular reflective journal entries, attend approximately three class meetings, attend at least one individual “status” meeting with the instructor, and attend a professional development opportunity (PDO) with practicing attorneys to encourage networking.
  • Paper/Work Product Requirement (FOR PTP II STUDENTS ONLY): Each student will submit at least 20 pages of either (a) a paper of publishable quality on a topic related to the placement; or (b) work product of substantive material produced during the externship.