Southwestern Law School Los Angeles, CA

News Release

August 20, 2009
Southwestern Dominates District Attorney Externships

Long known for its outstanding Externship Program, Southwestern had a particularly successful summer with the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office, placing 46 externs, more than any other law school. (Ten of the externs were SCALEĀ® students who took advantage of the new SCALE I summer option.) Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley wrote a letter of commendation to Dean Bryant Garth in praise of the law school's externship program and how it facilitates such an impressive number of successful placements. More than 700 students from law schools throughout the region apply for these positions and the office can only accommodate about 300 externs throughout all of its locations, according to Regina Mayo, Recruitment Coordinator for the District Attorney's Office.

Professor Anahid Gharakhanian, Director of Southwestern's Externship Program, attributes the law school's success in this area to the Externship Office's organization and ability to work closely with students in preparing their applications. She credits Elizabeth Peisner, Assistant Director of the Externship Program, and Externship Program Manager Mitzie Vitela for helping cultivate the relationships with the D.A.'s Office and facilitating the placement of Southwestern students in these positions, which provide a superior learning experience. "We're very grateful for the educational opportunities that the D.A.'s Office provides for our students," Professor Gharakhanian said. "There's nothing like learning by doing, and they provide great training, great supervision and guidance."

Once in these positions, Southwestern students excel, consistently receiving excellent evaluations. "Having served on our externship committee for several years now and reviewed evaluations of over 20 student externs, I can say with some authority that our externs are top notch," said Professor Tracy Turner, who serves as an externship advisor. "Evaluations of our student externs extol their responsiveness, professionalism, analytical skills, aptitude for research, and writing ability."

Adjunct Professor Joseph Esposito '89, an alumnus who is Head Deputy of the Major Narcotics Division for the D.A.'s Office, as well as teaching and serving as an advisor for Southwestern's Trial Advocacy Honors Program (TAHP), helps as many Southwestern students as he can and places them in both his and other divisions throughout the office. He explained the importance of giving law students hands-on experience. "You get students to work in practical settings where they're not just doing research," he said. "I think our students are very driven. I know what they're capable of."
Second-year day student Adam Wood spent the summer working in the Hardcore Gang Division of the Long Beach Branch Office, where he had the opportunity to assist on a dual jury homicide trial, working on everything from jury selection strategy to providing feedback on closing arguments. "The most important thing I will take away from this experience is the practical application of criminal law," he said. "Too often students focus on the theoretical teachings of the classroom and miss out on how the law is actually used in day-to-day life. Having done this externship and seeing firsthand what it takes to get a murder one conviction revolutionized my understanding of the classroom experience and really brought the concepts to life."