Law School Judicial Externships: John Marshall Students Gain Real-World Experience to Graduate

CHICAGO, Nov. 10, 2015 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- In June 2016, students will graduate from The John Marshall Law School having completed more hours of real-world experience than many other law students. That's because John Marshall requires more practical training – a minimum of 168 hours – than most other law schools in the country.

The 2016 class will be the first to fulfill John Marshall's mandate, instituted in 2013, of completing three experiential credits in order to graduate. Among the ways law students have met this challenge has been through clinical work, as well as judicial externships clerking for a judge.

Students in for-credit externships at John Marshall complete a classroom component concurrent with their real-world work. Adjunct Professor Ed Samuelson (JD '08) has overseen the externship class at his alma mater for two years. He is a permanent law clerk for the Law Motions Division of the Cook County Circuit Court and the permanent law clerk for the division's Judge John P. Callahan, Jr.

"Nothing else quite prepares you for understanding how lawyers really act," Samuelson said. "An externship takes the fear out of court. The student realizes there's no reason to be afraid of judges, for instance, and it's a great way to sharpen practice skills, as you're constantly meeting real lawyers who are doing it for a living."

"John Marshall students have strong writing skills, and they're not afraid to work. I always urge them to get into the courtroom and pay attention to what's going on," Samuelson said, and this was advice he gave to student Mitchell Brown, who estimated he spent half of his externship hours observing lawyers arguing motions in the courthouse.

Brown, in his second year at John Marshall, worked for Judge Callahan in the summer of 2014. The judicial externship "gives you a unique perspective on how the law functions," Brown said, "because your law school classes are all about being aggressive on behalf of your client in an adversarial system, and when you work for a judge, you get a more neutral view of the law."

And for anyone with illusions that the real world of the courts is anything like the way it is portrayed on television and in film, the experience is clarifying. "You realize that trial lawyers are not always the best public speakers, or the most entertaining, and that helps to make the idea of a career more approachable," Brown said. "The externship was a real confidence booster for me."

The judicial externship experience reinforced Brown's passion to be an attorney, specifically a prosecutor, and he plans to seek employment with the State's Attorney's office when he graduates. In the meantime, he hopes to have a second externship, this time with a federal judge, during his final year at John Marshall.

John Marshall's externship program is directed by Mary Nagel (JD '88), who has extensive experience doing the type of work the externs are exposed to. She was a law clerk for Cook County Circuit Judge Thomas E. Hoffman, an Illinois Assistant Attorney General, and then again a law clerk, for Cook County Circuit Court Judges Bill Taylor and Barbara J. Disko.

The National Jurist magazine has named John Marshall among the best in the country in providing practical training to law students. John Marshall earned an A- from the publication that is followed by current and future law students, law educators and the legal community.

CONTACT: Christine Kraly 312-427-2737 x 171Source: The John Marshall Law School-Chicago