Judicial Internship Program

The Judicial Intern Program gives students an opportunity to work with trial and appellate judges and view the judicial process from the perspective of the decision maker. Placements include the Wisconsin Supreme Court; Wisconsin Court of Appeals; Dane County Circuit Courts; United States District Court in both Milwaukee and Madison; and the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit (with the work being done in Milwaukee.) Students are able to observe the court system from the inside; learn about the work of judges and their law clerks; and evaluate the effectiveness or ineffectiveness of lawyers appearing before the courts. The actual work performed may vary from judge to judge but the emphasis is on research and writing.

The Judicial Intern Program takes approximately 25 students during each semester of the academic year and during the summer. It is open to all students who have achieved second year status; thus students are eligible to participate in the summer following their first year. Second- and third-year students have priority and are generally placed.

Students register for a law school course and receive credit for their work, but no pay. The preferred level is at least five credits, though up to seven may be earned. Each credit requires 45 hours of work during the course of the semester. Thus, a five credit placement requires a total of 225 hours of work. Students keep track of the number of hours they work each week and submit it to the person designated by the court in which they work. At the end of the semester the complete time log is signed by the designated person and turned in to the law school by the student and the appropriate number of credits is awarded. Also at the end of the semester, a final report is due that evaluates the student's experience and describes: the nature of the work done; observations about the court system, the work of the judges, and the effectiveness or ineffectiveness of lawyers appearing before the courts; and insights into the substantive law that may have emerged while working in the courts. The judges who participate are committed to seeing that the students have productive experiences and receive feedback on their work. Students typically find their placements to be demanding but very valuable.

Students interested in placements with the Supreme Court of Wisconsin or the U.S. District Court for the W.D. of Wisconsin should keep in mind that those Justices/judges, in order to avoid the potential for conflicts of interest,  will only allow students to intern in their chambers if the students have no other legal employment or law school clinical obligations. 

To apply for the program, students complete an application distributed during informational sessions that are held during the year. These informational sessions are announced in email messages to the student body.  

Questions: Externship Director Jane Heymann
Room 5103 Law School
Phone: 262-6413
E-mail: jane.heymann@wisc.edu

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