Clinical Externships

Our Clinical Externship Programs enable second and third-year students to earn academic credit while training under the supervision of public interest lawyers, corporate counsel, or judges through our five different programs: Corporate Counsel, Environmental & Land Use Law, Judicial, Prosecution & Government, and Public Interest (including public defenders, legal services lawyers, and many others.)

Since RWU Law is the only law school in the state, our students have access to plum opportunities in the legislative, executive, and judicial branches, both state and federal. Students must apply in advance, and should seek advice from the Feinstein Center to maximize their ability to be part of these programs.  An information session will be held in advance of the deadline each semester for the following semester’s program.  

Corporate Counsel, Judicial, Public Interest and Prosecution & Government programs are offered each fall and spring semester. The Environmental & Land Use Law, Washington, DC Semester-In-Practice, and New York Public Interest Scholars programs are spring semester only programs.  Corporate Counsel, Public Interest ,and Prosecution & Government programs are also offered in the summer.

What is the difference between a Clinical Externship, In-House Clinic, and a Field Clinic?

In a Clinical Externship, a student trains outside of the law school under the supervision of attorneys or judges. Generally, the law student is assigned projects that deepen the students’ substantive knowledge and skill base. Students make valuable connections and learn lessons about the real-world of practice in a busy public interest law office, corporation, or judicial chambers. For students looking for an immersive experience, we offer each of our Clinical Externship programs in a Semester-In-Practice format, which enables a student to train outside of the law school full-time under the supervision of attorneys or judges.  A Semester-In-Practice allows a student to work either locally or in a remote location chosen by the student and approved by the Clinical Externship Director.

In an In-House Clinic, a student works in the Providence Law Clinic under the supervision of a full-time faculty member whose sole purpose is to teach students and direct the clinic.  Students handle a small number of their own cases from start to finish and, when the student practice rule permits it, are certified as student attorneys. 

In a Field Clinic, a student works outside of the law school under the supervision of an attorney who also serves as a member of our adjunct faculty.  Students are certified as student attorneys and handle a small number of their own cases from start to finish.


Each student at RWU Law is allowed to take advantage of these opportunities in the following program combinations, or, of course, by taking just one:

  • 1 Clinical Externship and 1 In-House or Field Clinic;
  • 2 Clinical Externships (neither can be Semester-In-Practice);
  • 2 In-House or Field Clinics; or
  • 1 Semester-In-Practice and 1 In-House or Field Clinic.
  • New York Pro Bono Scholars

Note: Each Clinical Externship requires students to register for a 2-credit graded seminar and from 4-12 credits of ungraded fieldwork credits.  Students must be selected by the director of each program.

For more information or to schedule a counseling session with the Feinstein Center, please contact

Corporate Counsel

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The Corporate Counsel Clinical Externship Program enables students to earn academic credit while training either two, three or five days each week of the semester in the corporate legal offices of prominent for-profit and not-for-profit companies in Rhode Island and beyond.  Students work side-by-side with highly experienced in-house counsel on a vast range of legal subject matter areas encountered by companies on a national and international scope.  Each student receives regular oversight, feedback, guidance, and mentorship from a designated supervising attorney, who also works with the student to design a meaningful lawyering experience for the semester.  The Program includes a two-hour weekly seminar that teaches the modern role of in-house counsel, the role of the trusted advisor to an “internal client,” and the critical nexus between legal and business knowledge through a Business for Lawyers Workshop; the seminar also teaches the professional development and effective lawyering skills germane to corporate counsel practice.  The companies currently participating are: Alex and Ani, Amica Insurance, Blue Cross Blue Shield, CVS Health, Care New England, Falvey Insurance Group, Fenway Sports Group, Gilbane Building Co., IGT, Kahn Litwin & Renzo, Moran Shipping Agencies, Naval Underseas Warfare College, Newport Experience, RI Hospitality Association, Sensata Technologies, Swarovski, and Textron.

Sumana Chintapalli
Visiting Clinical Professor of Law  
(401) 254-4563

Environmental & Land Use Law

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Through the Environmental and Land Use Law Clinical Externship Program, students earn academic credit while training in legal offices or departments of government agencies and non-government organizations doing environmental and land use legal work in Rhode Island and southern New England. Externs are exposed to the various ways in which environmental and land use law is practiced by government agencies and non-government organizations through litigation, administrative rulemaking and adjudication, and engagement in the legislative process. Students participate in a two-credit, graded seminar “Advanced Topics in Environmental and Land Use Law” designed by the professor, after consultation with the field supervisors, to teach substantive law, regulation, and policy directly relevant to the students’ field work, as well as the ethics and legal skills required of an environmental attorney.

Julia Wyman
Director, Marine Affairs Institute & RI Sea Grant Legal Program, Adjunct Professor of Law
(401) 254-4613

Housing/Eviction Defense - Spring 2021 Only

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Students train at Rhode Island Legal Services, the RI Center for Justice, HousingWorks RI and/or the Executive Counsel’s Office for the Governor. Students will either provide direct representation to tenants facing eviction due to the economic conditions created by COVID 19, or students will provide legal research and recommendations to non-profit or government agencies working on the pandemic housing eviction crisis. Students will also participate in a weekly seminar titled “Housing Stabilization and Pandemic Lawyering,” designed in consultation with the field supervisors at Rhode Island Legal Services and the Rhode Island Center for Justice, to teach substantive law, regulation, and policy directly relevant to the students’ field work. In addition to learning the specific skills needed to represent tenants in housing eviction proceedings, students will be asked to critically analyze city, state, and federal housing policies that affect low-income renters, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. This Program will only be offered in the spring 2021 semester.

Suzy Harrington-Steppen
Associate Director of Pro Bono Programs,
Summer Clinical Externship Program Director 
(401) 254-4559


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Through our Judicial Clinical Externship Program, students have the opportunity to work with federal and state judges in both trial and appellate courts. Our students work directly with judges and are given assignments that are comparable to the assignments given to full-time law clerks. Our students learn first-hand about litigation by understanding what is persuasive to the court and how to interact with the judiciary. These once-in-a-lifetime opportunities create enduring mentoring relationships and valuable lawyering lessons that endure throughout a career. Students participate in a two-hour weekly seminar taught by a federal district court judge. 


Michael J. Yelnosky
Professor of Law
(401) 254-4607

Prosecution & Government

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Through our Prosecution & Government Clinical Externship Program, students train in a prosecution or government office on the federal, state or municipal level. Students may be certified to appear in court as student attorneys in some of these settings. Students gain valuable hands-on experience representing the government in a variety of settings, including criminal prosecutions. Students may ber certified to appear in court in some of these settings. Students participate in a weekly two-hour seminar.

Sumana Chintapalli
Visiting Clinical Professor of Law  
(401) 254-4563

Public Interest

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Through our Public Interest Clinical Externship Program, students earn academic credit while working  in a variety of non-profit or government settings. Students are eligible to appear in court as student attorneys in both Rhode Island and Massachusetts, and gain valuable hands-on experience representing low-income clients through civil legal services programs or public defender offices, advocating on behalf of the government in a variety of local or state agencies, or learning about policy development by working in local non-profit organizations. Students participate in a two-hour weekly seminar focused on reflective lawyering, professionalism, social justice, and ethics.

Laurie Barron
Director, Feinstein Center for Pro Bono & Experiential Education,
Fall and Spring Public Interest Clinical Externship Director
(401) 254-4653


Suzy Harrington-Steppen
Associate Director of Pro Bono Programs,
Summer Clinical Externship Program Director 
(401) 254-4559

Washington D.C. Semester-In-Practice Program

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Through our new DC Semester-In-Practice Program, students can earn academic credit while working full-time in a government, non-profit, or trade association setting. While in D.C., students will gain practical experience and training, meet and network with D.C. attorneys including established RWU alums, and explore the many ways that a J.D. degree is used in our nation's capital. This program provides an ideal opportunity for RWU Law students who are considering working in Washington D.C. after graduation to explore and plan for their future.

Professor David Zlotnick will work with each student to arrange a placement that fits their personal goals. Students will earn 12 fieldwork credits working in their placement and an additional 2 graded credits for a two-hour weekly seminar taught by Professor David Zlotnick. Professor Zlotnick is based full-time in Washington, working in the Office of Enforcement at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission where he also serves as the Training Coordinator.  He has over twelve years of experience in the DC Legal Market including as a judicial clerk, law firm associate, federal prosecutor, public interest lawyer, professor and now as a regulatory lawyer.

David Zlotnick
Professor of Experiential Education

Close Course Type Descriptions

Course Types

We have classified RWU Law classes under the following headers. One of the following course types will be attached to each course which will allow students to narrow down their search while looking for classes.

Core Course

Students in the first and second year are required to take classes covering the following aspects of the law—contracts, torts, property, criminal law, civil procedure, and constitutional law, evidence, and professional responsibility.  Along with these aspects, the core curriculum will develop legal reasoning skills.


After finishing the core curriculum the remaining coursework toward the degree is completed through upper level elective courses.  Students can choose courses that peak their interests or courses that go along with the track they are following.


Seminars are classes where teachers and small groups of students focus on a specific topic and the students complete a substantial research paper.


Inhouse Clinics and Clinical Externships legal education is law school training in which students participate in client representation under the supervision of a practicing attorney or law professor.  RWU Law's Clinical Programs offer unique and effective learning opportunities and the opportunity for practical experience while still in law school.