Student Life

The College of Law offers a number of opportunities for students to engage with each other and the community.


Student Life

The College of Law offers and supports various ways for students to engage with each other, faculty, and the community.


Students in a judicial externship work as judicial clerks for state and federal trial and appellate judges. An intensive orientation includes a study of judicial decision-making, judicial ethics, and opinion writing. Students are then assigned to work with the criminal, circuit, and chancery courts in Knox County and neighboring counties, or with the Tennessee appellate courts. Externs assist the judges by conducting research, writing case memoranda, and drafting judicial orders and opinions.

The judicial externship is a four-credit hour course.

Prosecutorial Externship

Students in the prosecutorial externship are placed in either the Knox County District Attorney’s Office or the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Tennessee. The student externs work under the supervision of experienced assistant district attorneys or assistant U.S. attorneys to prosecute actual cases on behalf of the offices.

Public Defender Externship

Students in the Public Defender Externship are placed in either the Knox County Public Defender’s Community Law Office or the Federal Defender’s Office for the Eastern District of Tennessee. The student externs work under the supervision of experienced assistant public defenders and appear regularly in court on behalf of their clients.

Students in the prosecutorial and public defender externships handle all phases of criminal proceedings, including:

  • pretrial factual and legal investigation
  • case development and strategy
  • witness and client interviews
  • preliminary hearings
  • pretrial motions hearings
  • plea negotiations
  • trial and sentencing

To participate in the prosecutorial or public defender externships, students must have taken the Evidence course and must have taken or be taking Professional Responsibility. Both externships are six-credit hour courses, offered in both fall and spring semesters.

Field Placements

Students have the opportunity to participate in field placements with local non-profit entities and business ventures on a for-credit basis during the academic year and in the summer. Field placement opportunities are offered in conjunction with the Clayton Center for Entrepreneurial Law and have included working with Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Y-12 National Security Complex, and UT Athletics.

Legal Clinic

Students have the opportunity to deepen their legal knowledge, strengthen their lawyering skills, and grow their professional experience through our legal clinics. Our clinical faculty guide, mentor, and challenge students while also assisting them in gaining expertise in clinical scholarship.

As a national leader in clinical education, the UT Legal Clinic ranks 9th in U.S. News and World Report’s top legal clinical programs among public universities and is 20th among all U.S. law schools.

Semester in Residence

The Semester in Residence is designed to provide students with an immersive, capstone educational experience in their area of interest during the final semester of law school. Students are partnered with employers who are uniquely suited to the student’s interest. Students must complete 30 hours of work per week, or a total of 450 hours throughout the semester, under the guidance of an on-site supervisor. Students earn 10 hours of course credit through their placement and two hours of credit in a seminar that is offered in Nashville.

International Study

We understand no lawyer is an island. The College of Law offers students not only a strong base in international law in the classroom, but also several opportunities to visit and study abroad. These studies lead to a richer legal education and a more well-rounded student experience.

Second- or third-year students who desire to take law courses abroad during the summer for transfer credit at the College of Law may do so, provided the program and courses they plan to take are approved in advance. The summer program must be sponsored by an approved American law school using, in substantial part, law professors from the United States. No more than 8 semester hours may be earned for transfer credit at UT Law. Grades received in summer foreign programs will not be transferred.

Cambridge, England

The Cambridge Study Abroad Program, fully accredited by the American Bar Association, gives students the opportunity to study and live at Downing College of Cambridge University. Coordinated by the University of Mississippi School of Law, partner schools include UT Law, the University of Arkansas-Fayetteville School of Law, and the University of Nebraska College of Law.

Students and professors from UT Law have been traveling to England for the Cambridge Summer Session for more than a decade. UT Law faculty who have recently taught in the program include professors Joan Heminway and Paula Williams.

More information about the program, including expenses, eligibility, curriculum and applications, may be found at the Cambridge Study Abroad Program site.

Beijing, China

The Chinese Law Summer Program, hosted by Renmin University of China Law School and fully accredited by the ABA, offers a four-week, five-credit option or a two-week, two-credit summer study. The Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law coordinates the program, which partners with UT Law, Boston College Law School, the University of Minnesota Law School, and the University of Oklahoma College of Law.

Courses are taught in English. Most instruction takes place in the mornings, leaving afternoons free for study, sightseeing in Beijing, or language instruction.

Learn more about the program here.

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

The Rio de Janeiro foreign study program partners with the Fundação Getulio Vargas Faculty of Law (“FGV Direito-Rio”), one of the best law faculties in Brazil. Organized by Tulane University Law School, the program focuses on comparative perspectives of law and international development.

The program is designed to offer a maximum degree of flexibility for students to earn either 3 or 6 credits in the study of law and international development. The five-week program permits students to take one or two sessions, each lasting two and a half weeks. With this two-session format, the program offers students who work or have family commitments the option to visit and study for short periods of time. For students who can visit for an entire month, the program allows students to profit from intensive study and have brief breaks to explore Rio as they wish.

More information may be found on the program’s website.