The Clinical Internship Program is an essential component of the curriculum at California Western School of Law. The Program builds upon the strong practice foundation students receive in the second year STEPPS Program. The 14-week program gives third year students the opportunity to earn academic credit for legal work in not-for-profit agencies, private law offices, courts, corporations or government agencies. In these settings, students participate in legal work and acquire useful insights and experiences toward building their careers. The program develops and promotes the confidence, problem solving skills, and professionalism that lead to becoming practice ready attorneys.
For more information, contact Ruth Briscoe, Program Administrator, at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 619-525-1438.
Develop the students' abilities to learn from experience and become thoughtful problem solvers
Promote students' sensitivity to and awareness of professional responsibility and ethical issues
Give students insights into how the legal system works
Train students in lawyering skills
Instill values of professionalism
Develop students' interpersonal skills
Internship and clerking experiences are both valuable aspects of legal education. They are, however, different in focus. The chart below compares the law clerk experience to the internship experience:
Relationship with attorney
Tasks and work
Focus on needs of employer
Focus on needs of intern
Efficiency and speed
Understanding and learning
Opportunity to engage in a variety of lawyering activities
Not primary focus
Work reviewed and redone until correct
Money & experience
Experience with supervision and academic credit
Internship opportunities are available for every student who wishes to participate in the program and most California Western students participate in the Clinical Internship Program.
Full-time internships are encouraged as they provide the opportunity to take on actual lawyering responsibilities and challenges, resulting in the deepest learning experiences. Full-time interns are able to make the transition from law student to first year attorney during the internship.
Internship opportunities are almost unlimited. Students may intern in any type of office or area of law. Students may use the Program's pre-approved internship placements or self-initiate an internship in San Diego or anywhere in the world, adding a cultural experience to the hands-on learning opportunity. California Western students have interned in many countries in Asia, Europe, and South America.
Students intern for 14 weeks and spend from 20 to 40 hours per week at their internship, depending upon the number of units they are earning. Interns receive academic credit (pass/fail) rather than remuneration for their work. Students earn between 5 and 10 credits for their internship, each unit of credit representing 4 hours of internship per week. Every intern is required to enroll in the Internship Seminar for 1 unit.
Thus, a student interning 40 hours per week would receive a total of 11 units of credit, 10 pass/fail and 1 graded for the Seminar. The chart below lists the number of hours students must work at their internships depending upon the number of units they are receiving. Students may take other courses while interning, but may not exceed 16 units of credit.
The above does NOT count the 1 unit classroom component
In the weekly Internship Seminar, students have an an opportunity to share experiences and hear about a wide range of practice. The Seminar also provides a forum for discussing issues of concern to new lawyers, ranging from the most practical questions regarding professional etiquette, to the more theoretical considerations of ethics and morality. Students find these seminars to be an important source of support for making the transition from student to lawyer.
Students interning outside of San Diego, participate in a weekly seminar using a distance-learning program with a supervising faculty member and other out-of-town interns.
How to Plan for an Internship
Students must complete 89 units to graduate. After earning 28 units for the first year (full-time), students will need 61 units to graduate.
After completing first year courses, meet with a Career Services Counselor to discuss career planning.
Meet with faculty advisor to plan schedule for the second and third years.
Visit the Clinical Internship Office to discuss internship opportunities.
Acquire legal experience, at least one of which should be through the Pro Bono Program.
Students are strongly encouraged to plan for a full-time internship. Full-time internships require additional planning. Arrange to take all bar and graduation courses prior to the internship.
A few options to consider in the three trimesters prior to interning are:
Take 2 trimesters of 17 units and 1 trimester of 16 units
Reduce need for high course loads by taking 2 or 3 summer classes or a summer abroad program
Take one 2 or 3 unit course while interning (only consider courses taught in the late afternoon or early evening)
Students must be in their last or next-to-last trimester of law school at the time the internship begins.
Students are required to have a minimum of 50 hours of legal experience (paid, pro bono, or other volunteer) acquired since entering law school.
Students may participate in the Program one trimester only.
Students planning to intern outside of San Diego must arrange to attend the CWSL's Bar Review Course the trimester before or after their internship. See Dean Scheininger in the Academic Achievement Office for details.
Students cannot be on, or in danger of going on, academic probation (Academic Policy 7.33).
Some internships have specific class ranking, prerequisite courses or other requirements, as detailed in the internship notebooks. Please read these requirements carefully when looking through the notebooks. The District Attorney (all departments) City Attorney Criminal Division and the Public Defender's Office all have Trial Practice Co- or Pre-requisites.
Students ordinarily may not intern with relatives, friends, or friends of relatives.
Students interested in interning at an office where they are working or have been employed, must have their supervising attorney complete a Teaching/Learning Agreement.
Students may not take more than 16 units of credit while interning.
Students must complete the STEPPS Program.
Please click here to look at the Internship Calendar (opens as PDF document).