Out in the Field


On January 11, Fordham Law hosted a training and reception for supervising attorneys of legal externs. Approximately 150 mentor attorneys from private, government, and nonprofit legal organizations attended the event, for which participants received CLE credit.

Beth Schwartz

The program included presentations by six New York-area law professors, including Fordham Law’s Director of Professional Skills Beth Schwartz, as well as roleplaying scenarios and small group breakout sessions. Participants learned how to best manage the working relationship between supervising attorney and law student during an externship, and heard from presenters about past externship experiences and what they should expect from the program.

“It’s important that law schools offer this training program for supervising attorneys because externships are an invaluable service to law students that we provide,” said Helene McNanna, Fordham Law’s administrator of experiential learning programs. “We want to ensure that we are giving our students the best educational experience in the field, the best on-the-ground legal training that they can get.”

Presenters also spoke about important, recent revisions made to ABA standards governing externship placements. Formally adopted in 2014, the ABA changes became effective this past year. Among its dictates are the following:

  • Placements must provide multiple opportunities for students to perform lawyering tasks.
  • Placements must provide opportunities for student self-evaluation.
  • Supervising attorneys must provide feedback.

Helene McNanna

Attendees included Fordham Law alumni who are now in the position to take on Fordham Law students as externs.

“We learned to effectively communicate with law students during their externships to ensure a better experience for them,” said Grace Nam ‘15, Excelsior Service Fellow at the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. “It also made me think about the feedback my own supervisor is providing me.”

Many other organizations were represented at the event, including Bronx Defenders, Sony Music Corp., Center for Constitutional Rights, Christie’s, Legal Aid, U.S. Department of Justice, and the New York City Law Department.

“Our externship partners work very collaboratively with our students and, through this event, we hope to build even stronger relationships and foster greater connections with them,” said Professor Schwartz.

The CLE program was planned and presented by a consortium of eight New York area law schools, consisting of Brooklyn Law School, Cardozo Law, Hofstra Law, New York Law School, NYU Law, Pace Law, and Touro Law, in addition to Fordham.


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