Birmingham is home to a thriving legal community with over 3,200 practicing attorneys, federal and state courts, and government agencies. Externships give students an opportunity to observe experienced lawyers at work, apply in a real setting what they’ve learned in the classroom, and get an inside view of a particular area of practice. Networking for future career options is also a vital aspect of these experiences.
Students typically work 120 hours during a semester and receive two credit hours for on-site work and one credit hour for the externship seminar. Externships are coordinated through the Career Services Office for corporate, judicial, government, litigation, and public interest law placements.
One of the most important attributes of an exceptional lawyer is a commitment to serving the public. Cumberland School of Law fosters this concern through a wide variety of opportunities to participate in community outreach and public interest law. The law school seeks to provide an understanding of a lawyer’s duty to serve the community through the following programs:
Cumberland Community Service Organization
The Cumberland Community Service Organization is a student organization dedicated to public interest projects within the law school community and the community at large.
Center for Law & Civic Education
The Center for Law & Civic Education is a nationally-recognized entity housed at the law school and dedicated to educating young citizens about law and government. Law students assist the center with two important programs:
Street Law - Students are trained to teach juvenile law and are assigned to teach a class once every six weeks in public and correctional schools.
Teen Court - Teen court is a division of Jefferson County Family Court created for first-time juvenile offenders charged with non-violent crimes. Defendants are represented and prosecuted by teen attorneys before a jury of their peers. Cumberland School of Law students assist the teen litigators in preparing their cases.
VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance)
For the Cumberland VITA project, students prepare tax returns for low-income individuals. In 2003, the American Bar Association named the Cumberland School of Law initiative the best new VITA project.
Julia Tutwiler Prison Education Project
In association with the State of Alabama, students teach basic law courses to inmates.
Cumberland Community Mediation Center
To accompany the Mediation Practice Course, students will be utilized as mediators to resolve community disputes in cases where the parties are unable to pay for legal services.
Mediation Project Video
PUBLIC INTEREST LEGAL OPPORTUNITIES
Public Interest Law Externships
This program offers academic credit for placements with judges, government agencies, and public interest organizations.
Public Interest Volunteers
Public interest organizations request student volunteers through the Career Services Office. Placement in government and public interest salaried positions is also facilitated.
Summer Public Interest Stipend Program
Cumberland offers a limited number of summer stipends for students who volunteer with public interest legal organizations. The program is funded by a grant from the H. G. and H. U. Sims Foundation and the generosity of our alumni.
Spirit of Service Award
Awarded annually by the law school to any student or faculty member who has contributed 30 hours of pro bono or public interest work.
Dean’s Public Interest Award
Awarded annually by the dean to the student who has best exemplified a commitment to public interest and public service.
Awarded by the Alabama Bar Association to any student who provides 50 hours of volunteer support at any of the State of Alabama’s Legal Services offices.
Alabama Bar Association Student Pro Bono Award
Awarded annually by the Alabama Bar association to the law student who has made a significant contribution of pro bono work.