Paralegal Externship: One Way to Put Skills to the Test

Communication. Research and writing. Organization. Attention to detail. These are the skills paralegals need to succeed. One of the most important pieces of the paralegal degree program at Globe University is the externship, which all paralegal students complete during their final quarter before graduation.

Paralegal students must complete 180 hours of substantive paralegal work with a local firm or law office before they can earn their degree. The externship is a crucial stepping stone for students to enter the professional world, providing them with real-world experience and a chance to connect with professionals in the field. We spoke with one of our current externs, Carly Henry, to find out more about this experience.

paralegal degree program

(From left) Howard Goldman, Carly Henry, and Greg Dutch

Carly is doing her externship with Howard S. Goldman and Gregory N. Dutch in the downtown Madison area. Attorney Goldman practices personal injury, worker’s

compensation, and social security disability law. Attorney Dutch practices in all of those areas, plus criminal law.

I asked Carly what her typical day is like.  She said, “Every day is different!” Carly has had a wide variety of experiences in her externship so far. She has observed hearings and sentencings, summarized hearing transcripts, conducted legal research, drafted demand letters to parties, attended meetings with clients, and composed client correspondence.

Carly has utilized her Globe University education to the fullest in her externship. She notes that many of the terms and concepts she has encountered were already familiar to her because she learned them in her paralegal program classes. She has been able to use the applied learning skills she learned in class—like summarizing transcripts. Carly, the winner of Globe’s Research Award, has also put her exemplary research and writing skills to good use. Carly’s familiarity with case law has also given her an edge in her externship.

Carly said, “Attorney Dutch asked me if I was familiar with the case Gideon v. Wainwright. I was familiar with it because we studied it at Globe. It’s a case which means that everyone is entitled to representation.”

Carly’s advice for paralegal students entering an internship? “Erin [Everett, paralegal program chair,] taught us not to use passive terms in writing, and Howard caught me using it twice! Don’t use passive voice!”

Carly added, “If you are going to work in a law firm that practices personal injury, take an anatomy class. Other than that, be prepared to learn a lot!”

By Erin Everett, Paralegal Program Chair at Globe University-Madison East and Madison West