Externship Learning Objectives

Student-Directed Learning Objectives

At the outset of the semester, students will be required to establish learning objectives for their field work which should be used to guide their experience in your office.  Students will work with their externship professor to draft the learning objectives and will meet with their field supervisor to discuss and agree to those goals.   


Students are counseled to create at least one learning objective in each of three primary categories: 

  1. Knowledge,

  2. Skills, and

  3. Values.  


These are the categories that professional education is aimed at developing in students, and an externship in a real-world legal setting presents many opportunities to do so.   Field supervisors are encouraged to deliberately facilitate their student's learning in each of these categories so that their development through their externship experience is well-rounded, helping them build their knowledge about substantive areas of practice, develop their lawyering skills through the tasks they perform and observe, and foster the aspirational ideals and values of the legal profession.

Critical Reflection

While taking the externship course, students complete course work in addition to their field work that focuses on analyzing their externship experience, engaging in self-assessment, and reflecting on the values, ethics and professionalism expected in the legal profession.  This type of reflection helps students to deliberately and critically examine their learning in their field office and how it is helping them to develop into professional, ethical, and prepared practitioners, as well as the aspirations and expectations that will be placed on them as practitioners. 


Being a reflective practitioner is a value of the legal profession that an externship experience has the unique ability to advance because students are exposed to practitioners who can model and encourage self-awareness, intentional professional development, and professionalism. 


Field supervisors are encouraged to talk to their student during the semester about the importance of professionalism and self-reflection as a practitioner.  Ways a field supervisor can do this include sharing with the student the things they do to incorporate professionalism and self-reflection into their own practice and discussing examples of unprofessional conduct when it is observed. 


Field supervisors are also encouraged to give feedback to their student that is aimed at encouraging self-reflection.  One way to do this is to ask the extern for their feedback on their own performance before giving feedback to them. 


Having deliberate discussions in these (and other) ways will demonstrate to the student how important it is to assess one’s own competence - a level of capability that all lawyers must maintain - and to aspire to conduct oneself professionally and ethically at all times.  

To learn more about lawyer competencies, click here.

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Denise Platfoot Lacey

Professor of Externships

University of Dayton School of Law

300 College Park

Dayton, Ohio 45469-2772


Click here to email Professor Platfoot Lacey

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