Non-Litigation Externships

Explore non-litigation externships:

Teri Silvers and Karen Sandler, Lecturers- in- Law (2 for the seminar; 2 for fieldwork)

Course Description
This course provides students with practical experience in intellectual property, entertainment and nonprofit law as they assist staff attorneys at Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts (VLA) in their representation of artists and nonprofit arts organizations. Through class discussions and journals, students reflect on the wide variety of clients and issues they encounter in their fieldwork, and engage in critical thinking about the role that law and lawyers play in the arts and entertainment world.

The Seminar
Students attend weekly two-hour seminars designed to reinforce and expand on their work at VLA through discussion of cases, agreements, reflections from student journals and analyses of the concepts from various readings.  We cover topics such as copyright, trademark, not-for-profit law, music rights and intellectual property licensing, as well as practical skills students need to work effectively at VLA, such as client interviewing, client counseling, and contract negotiation.  There are assigned readings and journals or short papers due each week.

In a typical 14-week semester, students spend 11 hours each week working at VLA, for a total of 144 hours for the semester.  The work is split over two days, in two shifts that must fall between VLA's working hours of 10-6 pm.  VLA's clients are low-income artists and nonprofit arts organizations.  Their legal concerns fall primarily into the areas of copyright, not-for-profit incorporation and tax exemption, trademarks, the music industry, and other arts and entertainment-related areas.  Clients typically seek assistance reviewing, negotiating and/or drafting contracts; resolving disputes; protecting copyrights and/or trademarks; and becoming a nonprofit tax-exempt organization.  Students will prepare for and participate in client intake, clinics and consultations.  They will spend at least half their time on substantive research projects assigned by VLA staff attorneys, on issues arising from client representation, VLA educational programs and advocacy.

Students participate in two role-playing exercises: a client counseling session and a negotiation.

Important Information
Students receive four credits – two academic credits for the seminar and two clinical credits for the fieldwork.  The seminar will be graded with letter grades. The fieldwork will be graded Credit/No Credit.  Grades will be based on class participation, written work and performance in the simulated exercises. Performance in the fieldwork portion of the course can influence the grade for the seminar by half a grade in either direction (e.g. poor performance at VLA will lower an A- to a B+).

Mike Katz, Dan Nadel, and Mark Nielson (2 for the seminar; 2 for fieldwork)

Course Description
The General and In-House Counsel (G/IHC) Externship will provide students with an understanding of roles general counsel and in-house lawyers play while offering them an opportunity to experience that work firsthand at placements in for profit, nonprofit, and startup corporations.  There are three (four) sections offered this term.

The Seminar
This 2-hour externship seminar will explore areas of the law that are integral to a general counsel or in-house practice.  Students will learn to approach legal issues from the perspective of the attorney whose job is simultaneously to be both lawyer and client.

The seminar component will also explore the ethical considerations of G/IHC attorneys including conflicts of interest and confidentiality. G/IHC are in a unique position at the intersection of law and business or operations; we will discuss how the G/IHC attorney must be fluent and able to explain legal rules and processes to artists, business people, educators and other professionals, and to ensure that the legal team understands business or operations considerations and context. The seminar component will integrate students’ field-based learning experiences into our weekly discussions and facilitate students’ reflection on those general counsel or in-house placements. The seminar component will also include a number of simulations and feature guest speakers who will be able to share their varied experiences as general or in house counsel.

Corporate Section – seminar will explore areas including corporate governance, securities and   SEC reporting, M&A, internal investigations, employment law, Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), cyber security, contracts, and litigation.  Lecturer:  Mark Nielson

Nonprofit Sections – seminar will explore areas including movement lawyering in transactional work, formation and structure of different types of organizations, corporate governance and compliance, employment and labor law, political activity, lobbying, and advocacy, intellectual property, media and communications, contract administration and review, fundraising compliance and charitable solicitation registration, confidentiality and ethics for clients, and working with pro bono partners.  Depending on interest more than one section will be offered with a focus on large institutional organizations or smaller advocacy or activist organizations.  

Startup Section – seminar will explore areas relevant to start ups, venture capitalist investing and Web3 entities, corporate governance, venture/crypto deals, regulation and policy (SEC, CFTC, ETFs, securities laws, ICO enforcement actions pleading), intellectual property, commercial contracts and proprietary data, the Metaverse, decentralized autonomous organizations (DAO), and non-fungible tokens (NFTs).  Lecturers:  Mike Katz and Dan Nadel

In the fieldwork placements, students will be expected to devote at least 11 hours per week. Students will be able to identify their own placements, discuss with the lecturers, and/or Liliana Vaamonde for placements. More information will be provided once you are formally accepted into the externship.

Important Information
The course will be open to JD and LL.M candidates. There are no prerequisites to take this course.

Andrew Friedman and Dmitri Holtzman and Kumar Rao, Lecturers-in-Law (2 for the seminar; 2 for fieldwork)

Course Description
This externship will expose students to the varied and important roles that lawyers play in policy experimentation and innovation in states and cities across the country. Course content and fieldwork will focus on how lawyers can support community-conceived policy initiatives
at the city and state level - from analyzing constraints on local authority to drafting policy proposals to engaging in the political fight to win passage. Substantive issues covered in the seminar, and the fieldwork assignments, will include workers’ rights, immigrants’ rights and
immigration reform, civil rights and racial justice issues, health care access, and more.

The externship will comprise (a) a weekly, 2-hour seminar, focused on core legal issues and academic literature bearing on state and local policymaking, law and organizing, and effective policy advocacy and (b) 11 hours per week of fieldwork in ongoing policy initiatives with The Action Lab, the Center for Working Families or the Center for Popular Democracy (CPD).

The Seminar
The weekly seminars will be focused on core legal issues and academic literature bearing on state and local policymaking, law and organizing, and effective policy advocacy

Students are expected to do 11 hours per week of fieldwork to support ongoing policy initiatives with the Action Lab, the Center for Working Families or the Center for Popular Democracy (CPD).

Stephen Louis and Doris Bernhardt, Lecturers-in-Law, 2 ungraded academic credits and 2 ungraded clinical credits

Externship overview:
This externship program will introduce students to the legal issues facing attorneys who represent New York City, and the role of lawyers in City government. It will also introduce students to the complexity of the City lawyer's role as counselor, litigator and/or negotiator for New York City and its agencies and employees, particularly with respect to policy matters. While the focus of the course is on New York City, this externship program may be of interest to any student who is interested in local government law, policy and administration, whether the student is considering working for government or working on these issues in another capacity. Students will be assigned to different divisions at the New York City Law Department (as described below) for a minimum of 10 hours per week..In this externship, students will gain first-hand experience working on litigation matters, transactional matters or policy matters for the City of New York. The New York City Law Department handles the City's litigation, offers advice and counsel to the Mayor, the City Council, and City agencies, and represents the City in development deals. In the past, students have drafted legislation, participated in development deals, drafted memoranda of law and litigation documents, including complaints and answers, joined City attorneys in meetings with government officials, and assisted at legislative hearings, depositions or trials.

Seminar overview:
The seminar component of the course will focus on the experience of representing New York City by examining several current "case studies" concerning New York City policy matters in which City lawyers played a role. Specific seminar topics may include labor and employment issues, economic development, and correctional policies, among others. The seminar will also review the structure of New York City's government; the City's law-making authority and processes; the tools available to City attorneys; how different parties both inside and outside of City government may influence City policy and practice; and the role of City lawyers in representing the City's interests. The seminar will include presentations by guest speakers and in-class exercises in addition to class discussion. Each student will also write a paper analyzing the legal issues pertaining to a New York City policy matter or proposal selected by the student. All students will present their analyses and recommendations to the class near the end of the semester.

Division assignments:
Each student will be assigned to one division for the duration of the course.

Potential division assignments include:

Administrative Law - Represents the City in lawsuits that challenge the validity of its regulatory laws and the policies and decisions of the administrative agencies charged with carrying them out.
Affirmative Litigation - Represents the City in litigation in which the City is a plaintiff.
Economic Development - Acts as the City's business and transactional counsel for a wide range of projects that are intended to enhance the City's economic base.
Environmental Law - Represents the City in environmental matters as well as matters involving the City's water supply, sewage system and sanitation services.
Family Court - Handles the City's juvenile delinquency prosecutions (children ages seven to fifteen) and parental support matters. Labor and Employment - Represents the City in federal and state court in litigation arising out of the City's role as the employer of more than a quarter-million workers.
Legal Counsel - Provides advice to the Mayor's Office and City agencies regarding the legal implications of policy initiatives and administrative reforms, as well as other legal matters.

Meredith Stead and Alison Besunder, Lecturers-in-Law (2 graded academic and 2 ungraded fieldwork credits)

This externship is only offered in the Spring semester. 

Course Description

This Extemship will consider: 1) the doctrines relating to the creation, modification and termination of trusts; 2) the administration of estates and trusts (including investment powers, duty of loyalty, allocation between income and principal, remedies for breach of fiduciary duty and spousal rights); and 3) lifetime and postmortem estate planning for moderate and substantial estates (including exemption trusts, disclaimers, the marital deduction, gifts to minors, life insurance trusts, charitable remainder trusts and grantor retained trusts).


There will also be a Field component to this Extemship which will consist of interviewing clients at a Senior Center on Manhattan's West Side and drafting Wills, Powers of Attorney, Living Wills and Health Care Proxies for these clients. During the semester, there will be meetings with clients at the Senior Center and class and individual meetings at the Law School to discuss the estate planning situations and to review drafts of documents prepared by the students. Work will be done in teams of two and each team will interview two clients and will prepare the documents and participate in the execution of the documents.

Requirements and Application Process

 The course is open to JD and LL.M. candidates. In order to be considered for the externship, students are required to have taken, or be concurrently enrolled in a course in Trust, Wills, and Estates. Alternatively, previous work or internship experience relating to wills, trusts, estate, or administration is also sufficient.

To apply, please complete the externship application available through LawNet. The application period can be found on the Experiential Learning home page ( Prospective applicants may be contacted for an interview once all applications have been submitted.

Any additional questions can be sent to Liliana Vaamonde at [email protected] 

Akshaya Kumar, Lecturer-in-Law 5 credits 

Course Description
The United Nations Externship provides students with an opportunity to learn more about the law and practice of the UN and the processes of making and implementing institutional law at an international organization. The externship will include a placement at one of a variety of legal offices including the UN secretariat, UN funds and programs, country or organization missions to the UN, or nonprofit advocacy organizations focused on influencing the UN’s decision making procedures. The seminar component of the course will offer opportunities to deepen students’ understanding of rulemaking within the UN system and create space to interrogate assumptions about how international organizations function.

Students cannot pre-select their placements and must be willing to extern at any of the potential host employers. The course consists of two parts: fieldwork (3 clinical credits) and a weekly seminar (2 academic credits). While the fieldwork credits are pass/fail, students will be graded for the seminar credits on the basis of a required presentation and group work.

The Seminar
Students will meet together with the instructor for a weekly seminar. Students are expected to reflect on their fieldwork experiences as a part of weekly seminar discussions, Students will examine primary materials focused on the normative context within which the UN functions, developing an understanding of the interaction between law and practice, and identifying avenues for change and reform. It is recommended that applicants should have taken a basic course in public international law or the equivalent.

The coursebook, often supplemented with additional relevant material, will be The Law and Practice of the United Nations by Simon Chesterman, Ian Johnstone and David M. Malone (Oxford Univ. Press, 2nd Ed., 2016).

Students will be placed by the instructors according to the needs and decisions of the various offices concerned. It should be borne in mind that there are no guaranteed places in any given office for CLS students and that some host organizations require students to interview or submit additional application materials as part of the selection process. Each student is expected to work at their host office a minimum of two full days a week for the 14 weeks of the semester.

Important Information
Extern selections will be made on the basis of the qualifications of the candidates and the needs of the office concerned. The externship is available to upper-level J.D., LL.M and SJD candidates.