Externships & Summer Stipends


Vanderbilt Law students have ample opportunities to gain substantial experience working alongside legal professionals anywhere in the world. Externships and summer stipends allow students to choose and design placements tailored to their individual interests, typically by working with federal or state judges, prosecutors, defenders or agencies; state attorneys general or legislative offices; corporate legal departments; and legal aid or other nonprofit or non-governmental organizations.

Through these experiences, students develop an understanding of professional responsibility issues in live lawyering settings; identify and analyze the lawyering skills they observe and develop in their field placements; and engage in critical reflection about legal practice, the roles of attorneys in various practice settings, and their own future professional careers.

Experiential Example

Course Credit for Supervised Legal Work Experience

Vanderbilt Law students receive course credit each year for working pro bono in summer and semester externships with faculty-approved legal employers throughout the U.S. and abroad. Students seeking to gain work experience during the academic year may apply for externships in the offices of federal and state attorneys’ offices, in judicial chambers, and with federal and state agencies in Nashville. A limited number of semester externships in other U.S. locations or in other nations are also available each year. To receive course credit for semester or summer externships, students must choose a placement site, obtain approval, and register for credit through the law school’s Legal Clinic.

See Where our Students Have Served

Students may engage in semester-long or summer externships in Nashville in self-designed placements or at sites ranging from the chambers of judges and magistrates of the Middle District of Tennessee’s federal district and bankruptcy courts to the Tennessee Supreme Court and Courts of Appeals. They may also engage in externships throughout the U.S. and overseas in self-designed placements.

Summer Stipends & Fellowships

Each summer, Vanderbilt Law students receive stipend awards to help defray their living expenses while they engage in summer pro bono work. 

  • Vanderbilt Law School Summer Stipend

    Vanderbilt Law School's Summer Stipends are available to students who work unpaid positions at either a non-profit or a governmental agency, including the judiciary. Positions may qualify whether they are in the U.S. or in other countries. Students apply by submitting applications to the Associate Dean for Experiential Education. Stipends will be awarded to those students who have accepted positions that most clearly reflect their educational, personal, and/or career goals.

  • Legal Aid Society Public Interest Stipend

    Vanderbilt Legal Aid Society's Public Interest Stipends are available to students who pursue projects that support traditionally under-served populations. The stipends are awarded on a competitive basis. Students apply by submitting proposals detailing their projects, and recipients are selected based on the merits of their proposals.

  • Amy and Frank M. Garrison Public Interest Fellowships

    Each year, students receive fellowships to support a summer experience working in the public interest in unpaid positions at either a non-profit or governmental agency.

  • Branstetter Summer Fellows

    The Branstetter Summer Fellows program is an initiative designed to enable law students who are interested in litigation and dispute resolution to work in unpaid summer internships with a non-profit or government organization where they will gain meaningful litigation experience. The Branstetter Program selects ten Branstetter Summer Fellows who receive a whole summer stipend or partial summer stipend for the internship.

  • Cheek Business Law Summer Fellowship

    The Cheek Business Law Summer Fellowship program provides financial support to Vanderbilt Law students who work in the summer on transactional matters in the area of corporate and business law. Students are eligible for the fellowships if they are working for government agencies which regulate business issues or are working on corporate and transactional issues at not-for-profit corporations or businesses.

  • George Barrett Social Justice Summer Stipend

    The George Barrett Social Justice Summer Stipend provides financial support to students who seek to do social justice legal work during the summer.

  • Nichols Humanitarian Fund

    The Nichols Humanitarian Fund enables law students to volunteer for domestic or international humanitarian service opportunities by making support available for educational, travel, and living expenses during their time of service.

  • Regulatory Fellowship

    Vanderbilt Law School's Regulatory Fellowship provides funds for students who work in the summer for government or non-profit organizations that are involved in regulatory matters.

  • Sally Shallenberger Brown EELU Environmental Fellowship

    Vanderbilt Law School's Sally Shallenberger Brown EELU Environmental Fellowship provides financial support to students who work in the summer for non-profit organizations dedicated to land conservation.

  • Torry Johnson Stipend

    The Torry Johnson Stipend provides financial support to students who work during the summer in criminal law, either in public defenders' or district attorneys' offices.

Have Questions?

Email us with questions regarding the externship programs.

Student should contact the Office of Student Financial Aid to apply for summer loans to finance their externships. Apply for summer loans by May 10.