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This article grew from a presentation relating externship clinical programs to the theme of the July 2016 International Journal of Clinical Legal Education and Association of Canadian Legal Education conference: The Risks and Rewards of Clinical Legal Education Programmes. Externships or field placement programs involve students placed away from the law school and supervised by a person who is not employed by the law school. Externships offer many potential rewards for students as well as other stakeholders, including especially community institutions. But there are also risks—risks that the externship will be expected to accomplish too much with too few resources or that the externship program will be held back in the potential for contribution due to inadequate imagination or planning. This article seeks to encourage externship teachers to put aside assumptions that are sometimes made about how externship programs “should be” and consider some alternative approaches to course design and possible goals for externship courses.



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