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Externship Program

The Department of Law invites law students to apply for its Extern Program. This program is designed to provide students with a challenging externship that reflects the demands and rewards of public service.  Participants in the Extern Program are not compensated however course credit is available pursuant to your school’s externship program. Work schedules will be determined in accordance with your school’s externship requirements and your Department of Law supervisor. Please consult with the director or coordinator of the externship program at your school.

The participant will be assigned to one of the practice divisions within the law department. He or she will be assigned a supervisor who will coordinate assignments. Together, the chosen participant and the supervisor will determine the start date, the hours to be worked and the date on which the program will end for the individual.

Deadline to apply to participate during the summer is March 1. There is no application deadline to participate during the academic year.

Please note that residency is not required for these unpaid positions.

Application Process:

In order to begin the application process, a hard copy of your materials must be mailed or hand delivered to the address below. E-mail applications will not be accepted.

  • Cover letter (In addition to identifying your Division preference, please indicate that your application is for the Externship Program)
  • Resume
  • Law School Transcript
  • One writing sample (Writing Sample Policy)

Forward Application Materials to:
Legal Recruiter
City of Chicago
Department of Law
30 N. La Salle - 1640
Chicago, IL 60602

NOTE: Failure to submit all materials may result in your application not being considered.

The following is a brief description of the available Divisions:

Appeals

The participant would be responsible for research, reading the record, and drafting the brief, and would receive detailed feedback on the draft. If oral argument is set, and it is appropriate for the participant, we would provide further supervision and support through a moot court and at oral argument.

Aviation, Environmental, Regulatory and Contracts (AERC)

Working in AERC would offer the participant the opportunity to work on a broad range of projects including advice and counsel, transactional, and litigation projects. Some of the work would include: observing and supporting attorney court appearances, preparing and offering legal opinions in response to clients' requests, research and drafting (motions, briefs, substantive legal correspondence). Work on The O'Hare Modernization Program (OMP) would introduce the participant to a broad range of issues including contract negotiation, municipal procurement issues, and sustainable design and would involve working with federal and other local agencies, as well as construction litigation. Participants would also gain first-hand experience in every phase of the preparation and drafting of contracts, including the following: (1) discussion with a client department about how to structure a transaction to meet the client's objectives, (2) identification of business risks for the client's consideration, (3) contract drafting, and (4) negotiation with counsel for the City's contractors. 

Building and License Enforcement (BLE)

Participants in the BLE Division would have the opportunity to try cases in the Circuit Court of Cook County (Criminal, Civil and Chancery Divisions) as well as in the Department of Administrative Hearings and in the Department of Business Affairs and Licensing. A participant would be assigned a case to handle from start to finish which would include discovery, trial strategy, negotiations and trial/settlement. The matters would include prosecution of the following areas: Conservation/Code Enforcement; Licensing; Zoning; Demolition; and Drug and Gang House Enforcement. The participant would also be involved in policy meetings with various Departments to streamline processes used to enforce the Building and Zoning Code of Chicago.

Collections, Ownership and Administrative Litigation (COAL)

Participants in COAL would have the opportunity to draft memos and negotiate settlement agreements, file and take citations to discover assets at the circuit court and argue motions at the Department of Administrative Hearings. Participants may also get hands-on experience conducting hearings before Administrative Law Officers and dealing with a wide variety of cases, including vehicle impoundments, gun registration denials and revocations, animal control issues, and myriad other Municipal Code violations, plus experience in dealing with police witnesses.

Constitutional & Commercial Litigation

Participants would have the opportunity to work on complex legal issues, including constitutional law issues. They will draft arguments for motions, participate in court hearings and both answer and draft discovery. 

Employment Litigation (ELIT)

Participants in ELIT would practice in state and federal courts and handle employment cases that involve extensive motion practice, intensive discovery, depositions, settlement negotiations and trials. A participant may be able to answer complaints, file motions to dismiss, answer discovery, take depositions, and actively participate in all stages of the litigation. All participants would be assigned to a case with a partner and a supervisor who would supervise all aspects of the case.

Federal Civil Rights Litigation (FCRL)

FCRL, the Division that defends the City and police officers sued in federal court for alleged misconduct pursuant to Section 1983 as well as state law claims, offers participants the opportunity to manage a case in federal court from its inception. They would be responsible, under the supervision of an experienced attorney, for answering complaints, drafting and answering written discovery, motion practice, taking and defending depositions, preparing pretrial orders, engaging in settlement negotiations and trying cases.

Finance and Economic Development

Participants would have an opportunity to work in a Division that handles a variety of types of transactions that advance, among others, economic development, affordable housing, and the removal of blight. Many economic development transactions utilize the tool of tax increment financing (“TIF”).  Participants will be given training in understanding the TIF Act, both as relate to the establishment of TIF Areas and the implementation of TIF plans through negotiated redevelopment agreements. Other learning opportunities in the area of economic development will come from assisting Division attorneys regarding other tax incentive programs involving Enterprise Zones, Special Service Areas and the Cook County Classification Ordinance. Affordable housing projects also rely on tax incentive programs as well as loans, grants, and allocations of tax credits to raise capital. Opportunities will be made available to learn how housing deals are structured and various funding sources are needed and brought to the table.  Another core area of the Division’s practice is public finance. This Division acts as issuer’s counsel on various bond transactions of the City, the proceeds of which allow for the City to address operating and capital costs and to operate certain enterprises involving water and wastewater facilities. There are significant contracts and documents required that the Division prepares, such as redevelopment agreements, loan and grant documents, bond documents and intergovernmental agreements. Participants will also be involved in due diligence reviews and researching important issues. The City generally acts through its corporate authorities, i.e. the Aldermen comprising the City Council. The Division prepares authorizing ordinances for City Council approval of the relevant transactions. Participants can assist with preparing drafts of ordinances and will be able to see City Council and relevant committees thereof in action. 

Labor

Participants will assist with investigating and defending charges filed at the administrative level in employment discrimination, harassment and retaliation and, in doing so, gain knowledge and experience in a broad range of employment-related issues, including compliance with the ADA, FMLA, and the City's Sexual Harassment Policy. Participants will also have the opportunity to second chair grievance arbitration hearings and disciplinary proceedings before the Police Board and the Human Resources Board.

Legal Counsel

Participants will help attorneys prepare ordinances for introduction at City Council meetings, and help research and provide advice in response to requests by City departments and officials. Accompanied by division attorneys, participants will have the opportunity to attend City Council Committee meetings where proposed ordinances are debated, as well as meetings of the full City Council. Working with division attorneys, participants write ordinance drafts, research memoranda, and ceremonial resolutions for introduction at City Council meetings.

Legal Information, Investigations and Prosecutions (LIIP)

Participants will be immersed in electronic discovery issues and will track and respond to preservation requests received by the City and issue legal holds on electronic public records. The participants may have the opportunity to research and advise on electronic discovery issues. Participants will also provide legal advice concerning the new Freedom of Information Act, and act as counsel for the City for FOIA appeals filed with the Attorney General’s office. It is anticipated that the participants would be able to independently handle appeals with supervision from more senior staff. Participants will be responsible for locating documents, preparing appropriate responses to subpoenas and arguing motions to quash, or motions to show cause for failure to produce. Additionally, participants would get a wide variety of practical experience prosecuting violations of the Municipal Code in several different forums. Participants in the Traffic Unit would get experience trying cases before circuit court judges and handling a high-volume practice. Participants in the Branch Courts Unit would get experience handling a variety of Municipal Code violations, including city misdemeanor charges before judges in various branch courts, plea-bargaining and trying cases, dealing with police witnesses, and working with the State's Attorney's office. 

Real Estate

Service in the Real Estate Division would provide the participant with experience in the City's purchase, sale, leasing, condemnation and zoning of land, the management of the public way and public open spaces, "green" initiatives, and the execution of the City's affordable housing and urban redevelopment programs. Participation would include drafting redevelopment agreements, attending negotiating sessions, preparing ordinances and assisting at closings.

Revenue Litigation

A participant in this division could expect to draft petitions; attend court calls and administrative calls; interact with taxpayers regarding tax assessments; review discovery; engage in settlement negotiations; perform factual investigations; draft memoranda, briefs and settlement agreements; perform legal research; and perform other duties related to tax litigation and advising the Department of Finance.

Torts

Participants in the Torts Division will receive their own docket of personal injury cases. Participants will answer pleadings, draft, file, and argue contested motions, propound and answer written discovery, depose witnesses, conduct Rule 90 arbitrations, and try cases in the Circuit Court of Cook County.