Federal Judicial Practice Externship

LW.12448 / LW.12450
Judge Alison Nathan
Professor Michelle Cherande
Open to 3L and 2L students
Maximum of 14 students
Fall semester
5 credits* (Credit/Fail)
No prerequisites

Course Description

The Federal Judicial Practice Externship (“FJP”) is designed to teach students about federal practice through exposure to the workings of judicial chambers as well as class sessions that focus on substantive and practical issues of law. Topics covered include, inter alia, effective oral advocacy techniques, legal writing, judicial decision making and ethics.

Students participating in the class dedicate their time to both a placement with a district court or appellate court judge and a weekly, two-hour seminar. To develop advocacy skills, all students are required to participate in a moot court argument before a panel of judges.

Students will submit applications through CAMS, the online application system. Based upon these applications, students will be selected for interviews by the participating judges. To be accepted for this class, you must be selected by a participating judge for work in his or her chambers. Students cannot volunteer to work in a judge’s chambers and then apply for the course. In addition, since students will be working for a federal judge, students may not work in a private law firm, government office or legal services office during the externship.

The class is credit/fail, and five credits are awarded for satisfactory classroom performance and a statement that work completed in chambers was acceptable.

The seminar will meet one evening a week.

Judicial externs cannot engage in any political activity.  During the semester that students are working in chambers, they cannot make any political contributions, volunteer for any campaigns, attend any campaign rallies or wear campaign shirts/buttons.


After undergoing a selection/interview process, students work in the chambers of participating district court and appellate judges in either the Eastern District of New York, Southern District of New York or Second Circuit. Students are expected to spend approximately two days in chambers each week and to complete any outstanding work at home.

While in chambers, students complete extensive research and writing projects such as bench memoranda on a broad range of cases, including immigration, criminal law, habeas corpus, and complex commercial disputes. It is hoped that each student will also draft an order or opinion. Students are also encouraged to attend Second Circuit oral arguments or district court proceedings, particularly those related to the cases on which they are working.


Class sessions are taught in a variety of styles ranging from lecture to visiting speakers. The lectures address fundamental topics of oral advocacy, legal writing and appellate review. The substance of these classes directly relates to the types of cases that FJP students see in chambers and to the development of practical skills. Other classes involve discussions with a distinguished group of guest speakers about various aspects of legal practice. When a guest speaker teaches a class, each student is expected to prepare at least one question to ask the speaker in order to foster an engaging and interactive classroom discussion.

All participants are required to present an oral argument to a panel of judges. The briefs for the oral argument are given to the students and students are required to base their arguments solely on the materials presented to them. Students are provided with significant feedback from the panel.

Application Procedure

Students should submit the standard application, a resume and a grade transcript via CAMS. Selected student applicants will be contacted by Michelle Cherande for an interview. If you have any questions, please contact Michelle Cherande.

Student Contacts

Externship participants in Fall 2022 were:
Yvonne Diabene
Abby Draper
Mariam Ehrari
Matthew Kalinowski
Rebekah Kim
Kevin Kuate Fodouop
Mari LeGagnoux
Madeline Leibin
Kai Mayer
Evan Meisler
Jessica Moore
Tess Saperstein
Sophia Young
Josh Zakharov

* 5 credits include 3 clinical credits and 2 academic seminar credits.