Criminal Externship Overview (State Court System)

Public Defender and State Prosecutor

Students are placed in prosecution and public defense offices (including Regional Conflict Counsel in some locations) throughout Florida, and actively participate in the processing of cases in the criminal justice system. The 3-credit (maximum) clerking program may also be available at other locations throughout the United States, and students may identify an office interested in sponsoring their externship. Please contact Professor Krieger or Lauren Manders for details.

There are three distinct programs, Clerking, Certified Part-time, and Litigation. The programs differ in their credit awards, learning plans, time commitment, assigned responsibilities, and whether “CLI” certification is required or not, all explained below. Read the descriptions carefully to distinguish the differing credits, activities and responsibilities, eligibility, and prerequisites. All programs run for the full 13-week semester except as noted for some summer options.

Reduced Credit for an Externship: For your planning purposes, be aware that students often may participate in a program while enrolling (and paying tuition) for fewer credits than the maximum assigned to that program. In this case however, all other aspects of the program remain unchanged, including the requirements for weeks and hours of participation, the work expected at the site, and the work submitted to the faculty.

Summary of Main Eligibility Differences: The Litigation program (9 or 12 credits maximum, 30 or 40 hours/week of work, respectively) requires completion of either Criminal Practice Clinic or Trial Practice, and Florida Bar background clearance (to qualify for Certified Legal Intern/”CLI” status). The Certified Part-time program (6 credits max., 20 hours/week of work) also requires Florida Bar background clearance/CLI status); Criminal Practice Clinic or Trial Practice are strongly recommended but not required. Clerking (3 credits max., 14 hours/week of work) students do not need CLI status, nor either practice course prerequisite.

If you are qualifying for the Litigation program (30 or 40 hours/week of work) by taking Trial Practice: Trial Practice does not include any of the comprehensive instruction in pretrial skills provided in the Criminal Practice Clinic course (nor other key parts of that course), so you will purchase the CPC materials to read, and will write summaries and experience papers during the externship related to these materials. Students taking the Clerking or Certified Part-time program will have assigned readings on pretrial skills during the externship, with related papers to complete at that time.

Selection: Students provide a statement of purpose with their application, and are matched with offices and divisions based on a number of considerations, including training, certification status, background, interest, and personality qualities. Interviews may be required by the externship faculty and/or the placement office.

The prosecutor/defender externships are rigorous experiences which require each student to display initiative, focused attention, developed interpersonal skills, and organization. Students whose previous record creates questions about these qualities will receive reduced priority and may be deferred.

S/U Credits: All programs are ungraded; all students (and especially transfers) should be aware of the number of permitted S/U credits toward graduation before applying for these programs. However, as noted above, students are generally permitted, after consultation with the externship faculty, to enroll in a program for less than the full number of credits offered, provided the student undertakes the full program as established.

Can you enroll in BOTH a litigation and clerking or part-time program? Yes, students strongly interested in criminal practice experiences may do both programs, with the following limitations:

1. Generally students would take the Clerking program first and, if further interested, then gain certification and take the Litigation program (student works 30-40 hrs/week for a full semester and typically gains litigation experience handling a substantial number of assigned cases). In this case the programs will provide very different learning experiences as a matter of course, and both programs may be taken for up to their maximum credit (15 total) toward graduation requirements.

2. On a trial basis, students may also take the Litigation program first, as described above, and then the Clerking program. Absent special circumstances, a maximum of 12 total credits for both programs will apply toward graduation requirements. 

3. IN ALL CASES, students combining any two such programs must have approval in writing from Professor Krieger BEFORE enrolling for the second program, so plan ahead and contact him early.

4. Students may NOT combine two Clerking programs, nor a Clerking and a Certified Part-time program, because the experiences will not differ sufficiently to justify credit for both programs.

Can you enroll in two part-time programs?  You may not combine two Clerking programs, two Certified Part-time programs, or one of each, since the activities and skills learned in these programs largely overlap.  Remember, however, that with prior written approval of the externship faculty, you may enroll for less credit than a program awards (which may enable you to have the experience of a Clerking and Litigation program while using and paying for less credit).

Consult individual program descriptions for the specifics of each program.