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+).

Various Lecturers- in-Law, 4 credits (2 for the seminar; 2 for fieldwork)
Available in: Fall 2024 and Spring 2025

Course Description
The In-House Counsel Externship will provide students with an understanding of roles in-house lawyers play while offering them an opportunity to experience that work firsthand. The 2-hour externship seminar will explore areas of the law that are integral to in-house corporate practice – including corporate governance, compliance, M&A, product counseling, employment law, intellectual property, privacy, contracts, and litigation – from the perspective of the attorney whose job is simultaneously both lawyer and client. The seminar component will also explore workplace dynamics and ethical considerations of in-house attorneys including conflicts of interest and confidentiality. Field placements will provide students the opportunity to learn from practice in corporations’ and institutions’ legal departments. Students will integrate the seminar-based skills into their field practice.

Students will be assessed on class assignments and performance. 

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 (both terms) – seminar will explore areas including corporate governance, corporate compliance, securities and SEC reporting, M&A, internal investigations, employment law, Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), cyber security, contracts, and litigation. Lecturer: Giselle Huron, Mark, Maher Mark Nielsen

Corporate Sustainability and ESG (Fall) – seminar will provide students with an understanding of the roles lawyers play in the ESG space while offering them an opportunity to experience that work firsthand with various companies’ ESG or sustainability departments. The class focuses on the unique, challenging and rewarding aspects of being ESG attorneys in the law firm environment. New to the legal space, the practice of ESG touches all aspects of an enterprise, helping clients identify environmental, social, and governance opportunities and risks; stay abreast of domestic and international ESG-related regulatory developments, trends, better practices and business implications; conduct rigorous due diligence, expanding beyond the traditional scope of data rooms; and leverage investigation and crisis management practices during a triggering event.  Lecturers: Larcy Cooper and Madhuri Pavamani

Healthcare Section (Spring) – the seminar will explore the impact of diverse regulatory schemes in complex organizations grounded in the ever-changing backdrop of the healthcare industry.  Privacy, anti-kickback, marketing, payer and insurance issues will be explored from the perspective of the role of the general or in house counsel.  Lecturers: Richard Barasch and Brett Friedman 

Startup Section (Fall) – 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.


Learning Outcomes

  • At the end of the course, students will have acquired understanding of and/or facility in various lawyering skills, for example, oral advocacy, legal writing and drafting, negotiation, and client communication.
  • At the end of the course, students will have acquired understanding of the development and structure of certain corporate institutions and related legal departments.
  • At the end of the course, students will have acquired understanding of and/or facility in ethical and professional issues.

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

Andrew Friedman and Kumar Rao, Lecturers-in-Law, 4 credits (2 for the seminar; 2 for fieldwork)

This externship seminar will expose students to the varied roles that lawyers are playing in supporting community organizing, issue
campaigning, and social movements, including policy innovation and experimentation in states and cities across the country. We will examine in depth the current tumultuous political and social moment, the corresponding health, climate, carceral, and economic crises, and its intersections with questions of law, power and social change.

Course content and fieldwork will focus on the role of law in
supporting community and movement-conceived campaign and policy initiatives at the city, state and federal levels – from analyzing constraints on local authority, drafting legislation, engaging in community organizing and mobilization, to advising on political fights. Special attention will be paid to the importance of community organizing and social movements in advocating for progressive reforms and the unique role lawyers can play in supporting mobilizing for social change and building strategic broad-based coalitions to win reforms and transformation. This class will have a framework of exploring power at all levels of government and how lawyers, organizers, movements, and elected officials, can use a range of strategic tools to make change.

The externship will comprise (a) a weekly, 2-hour seminar, focused on core legal issues and academic literature bearing on social movements, state and local policymaking, law and organizing, and effective policy advocacy and (b) 10 hours per week of fieldwork in ongoing policy and research initiatives at a range of grassroots and progressive policy and advocacy organizations, including The Action Lab, Make the Road NY, FWD.US, the Green New Deal Network, and the Center for Popular Democracy. 

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).

Doris Bernhardt and Clava Brodsky, Lecturers-in-Law, 4 credits (2 for seminar; 2 for field placement)
Available in: Spring 2025

Course Description
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 firsthand 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.

The Seminar
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 and litigation 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 proposing a new policy, law or initiative for the City and analyzing the legal issues pertinent to their proposal. All students will present their proposals to the class near the end of the semester.

Field Placement
Each student will be assigned to one division for the duration of the course. Potential division assignments include:

  • 50 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.


Akshaya Kumar, Lecturer-in-Law, 5 credits (2 for seminar; 3 for field placement)
Available in: Fall 2024 and Spring 2025

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: field placements (3 credits) and a weekly seminar (2 credits). While the field placement 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. 

Field Placement
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
The externship is available to upper-level J.D., LL.M and SJD candidates.