International Semester in Practice Program

The International Legal Practice Semester-In-Practice provides select students in their final year of law school with hands-on international practice experience working full time for a semester for a public interest organization while earning academic credit.

Complementing the fieldwork component, students engage in academic coursework relevant to their internship throughout the semester. The program is designed to enhance students' learning in international and comparative law, practice, and procedure; policy and practice; advocacy; professionalism; and reflective practice.

Interested students should contact Instructor Mary Sawicki to discuss details of program and application process. 

Program Details

  • Students extern full time in a 10-credit ungraded field placement (the equivalent of 35 hours per week at the externship), with oversight from a faculty supervisor, during one semester of their final year at the law school.
  • Students concurrently enroll in a two-credit graded internship seminar. Among other things, enrolled students are required to submit weekly time logs and journals, speak with his/her faculty advisor for one hour at least every other week, and complete mid-semester and end-of-semester evaluations of the placement.
  • Participating students may not be employed or volunteer at any other job (including pro bono service) for more than 20 hours per week while participating in the Semester in Practice Program, nor may students be engaged in employment, which may conflict with the internship.
  • Students may not receive monetary compensation for work at their for-credit internship, in accordance with American Bar Association standard 305 for field placements. However, interns may be reimbursed for reasonable out of pocket expenses related to the internship (in the rare cases where students may be offered a modest stipend).

Potential Externships

Suffolk Law School has relationships with the following organizations (as well as others), or students may identify their own placement organization based on a particular practice area or region. (All placements must be approved by Suffolk Law before a student applies):

  • United Nations Office of the Special Representative for the Secretary General on Violence against Children (New York)
  • International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, Appeals Chamber (The Hague, Netherlands)
  • European Court of Human Rights (Strasbourg, France)
  • International Chamber of Commerce, Dispute Resolution Department, Policy Department (Paris, France)
  • Legal Resources Centre (Cape Town or Grahamstown, South Africa)
  • Centre for Law and Policy Research (Bangalore, India)
  • World Intellectual Property Organization (Geneva, Switzerland)
  • Other placement organizations identified by a student and approved by the Law School.

Students are encouraged to meet with Instructor Mary Sawicki to discuss potential internship opportunities. A helpful resource for researching international externship organizations, in particular, in the area of international human rights may be found here.

To qualify under the program, externships must consist of legal work under the direct supervision of an attorney at the host organization, and the placement organization must be pre-approved by the Law School. Once students have been accepted into the Semester-in-Practice Program, students then apply to the organization.

Program Requirements

Eligible students must:

  • Be in or entering their final year of law school
  • Minimum GPA of 3.2
  • Complete prerequisite courses prior to start of externship. Required courses vary per externship (please review the Informational Packet.)
  • Complete a competitive application process

Participating students may not exceed the total number of fieldwork credit hours, i.e., 12 credits, allotted per the law school’s policy concerning clinical and other nonclassroom activities (see Academic Standards, Section G). Students need to confirm with the Registrar’s Office that they have enough ungraded credits available to participate in the program, taking into consideration past semesters in addition to academic plans for remaining semesters at Suffolk Law.

Once a student is selected for the International Legal Practice Semester in Practice Program, he/she will work with Instructor Mary Sawicki to apply to the student’s placement organization of interest, and Sawicki will assist with the process of securing the externship. Note that participation in the program is contingent upon the approval of the student by the relevant externship placement organization. In the instances where SULS has a relationship with the organization (such as in the case of the fall placement at the UN office), Suffolk Law will liaise with the placement organization. In other cases, students apply directly to the organization. Please contact Instructor Mary Sawicki with questions.

How to Apply

Students interested in the Semester in Practice Program must first apply to Suffolk Law to participate. Once students have been accepted into the Semester in Practice Program, then they apply to the organizations of interest.

Application package must include

  • Current resume
    • A resume detailing your professional and educational experience, if possible particularly in the area of the proposed internship, including previous internships, travel, education, employment, extracurricular activities, honors, languages, etc.
    • Students are advised to take advantage of SULS’s Career Development Office to have their resumes reviewed/critiqued prior to applying.
  • Official or unofficial transcript (Registrar generated, not a self-produced grade sheet).
  • Two references (professors and/or professional supervisors). Provide their names, associated title, nature of relationship and full contact information.
  • Statement of interest The Statement of Interest is a short essay or cover letter explaining why you are applying for the program; the type of internship opportunity sought; and what you will bring to such an internship. Please do not simply repeat your resume/CV. More specifically, in the Statement of Interest, you should include:
    • The type of internship opportunity sought (if known, the particular organization(s) for which you would like to apply);
    • How the opportunity relates to your career goals;
    • The specific educational objectives you hope to achieve through the program;
    • Significant relevant academic and professional accomplishments;
    • Experience that may be relevant to the field or work of an internship organization, including, for example, study or work abroad or work in the United States involving international issues;
    • Undergraduate or graduate courses of study in areas involving international issues and/or area of law involving the internship; and
    • Foreign language abilities (please indicate, as precisely as you can, your level of competence).

Submit the required documents in a single PDF document via email to Mary Sawicki. Please collate the materials in the order listed above. Use your name as the title of the PDF (i.e.: "J. Smith Semester in Practice Application"). All required materials must be submitted simultaneously by the deadline. 

Applications are evaluated based on the qualifications of the student to complete the internship program, the quality of the opportunity, how well the opportunity supports the student’s career and academic plans; the student's demonstrated interest in international and comparative law, the student's overall academic and professional record, and any other factors deemed relevant.

Students will be notified of the decision made on their applications as soon as practicable.