Real-life Lawyering Skills
Cooley is one of a small number of law schools that requires students to gain practice experience before graduating. Consistent with our mission of preparing graduates to be ready to practice law, Cooley offers a range of opportunities for gaining this experience.
Graduates who complete this requirement are well prepared to serve their clients. All have demonstrated that they not only understand the law, but can apply it in a real-life setting. Cooley students receive this hands-on learning through internships and externships. Each student completes a minimum three-credit clinical program (either an internship or an externship), or demonstrates that they have comparable work experience.
What is an Intern?
An intern is a second or third year law student who works in a teaching law clinic staffed with law school professors. Students handle all aspects of the cases they are assigned, pursuant to the student practice rule. Cooley has established eight in-house clinics, Sixty Plus, Inc., Elderlaw Clinic, two Estate Planning Clinics, the Cooley Innocence Project, the Family Law Assistance Project, two Public Defender Clinics, and the Public Sector Law Project. Each of these clinics provides legal services to targeted members of the community near each campus.
What is an Extern?
Externs are third-year students who work closely with experienced lawyers outside the law school who provide a supervised learning environment within their practice. Cooley faculty members oversee every placement and enhance the learning opportunities by engaging in regular discussion with externs.
Cooley's externship program places students with practicing lawyers throughout Michigan and across the United States for 14-week terms. Cooley Law School has approved externships at sites from Florida to Alaska, Maine to California, with placements including legal services offices, public defenders, judges, prosecutors, government agencies, private law firms and in-house counsel. All sites are reviewed and approved by the school before credit may be awarded. Extern supervisors must be licensed attorneys with a minimum of three years’ experience, a clean disciplinary record, and not be a part of the student’s immediate family.
Regardless of the student's choice, every Cooley graduate will be well-trained in the practice of law. Cooley's clinical programs enable students to bridge the gap between law school and real world practice.