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Course Details

Externship: Community Legal Services (Shapiro)

Spring 2023   LAW 830-001  

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Beth Shapiro

Executive Director - Gittis Legal Clinics

Additional Information
Experiential Course


Skills Training
Oral Presentations
Team Projects
Drafting Legal Documents
Other Professional Skills:

100% Other (Fieldwork & pass/fail)

Satisfies Senior Writing Requirement



Class meets in person.

Meeting Times/Location




For the Spring 2023 semester, CLS will be hosting externs in person in their offices, and in the following Units: Housing and Energy Units. CLS will assign students to either one of these Units.

Community Legal Services (CLS) represents 11,000 low income Philadelphians a year and also advocates for systemic changes that will improve the lives of the poor. We focus our practice on the most needy individuals and families. CLS lawyers are leading advocates in areas of law affecting low-income residents, including: landlord-tenant, consumer, mortgage foreclosure, employment, criminal record expungement, welfare, utilities, family advocacy (representing parents in the child welfare system), disability and elder law. There are opportunities for placement in CLS offices in Center City or at CLS' neighborhood office in North Philadelphia. Student assignments will involve a broad range of lawyering tasks, including to the greatest extent possible client interviewing, counseling, case planning and development, and hearing preparation and participation. Students also work on systemic and policy issues and appellate briefs as they arise during their externship. Each student will be supervised by an experienced legal services attorney and will get to know other staff. For the Spring 2023 semester, CLS will be hosting externs in the following Units: Housing and Energy Units. If a student’s placement at CLS requires them to appear in court, the student should contact externships@law.upenn.edu to arrange for their certification under Pennsylvania's student practice rule.


Students are not permitted to enroll in this Externship if also enrolled in another Clinic or Externship in the same semester. Students who elect to use their enrollment in this Externship toward their public service requirement will receive one fewer credit for this course, in exchange for 35 hours of TPIC credit (students should contact TPIC to arrange for the credit exchange). Be certain to review the "Enrollment Procedures for Clinical Courses" section on the Registrar's website.

ADD/DROP FOR EXTERNSHIPS: The placement site incurs a substantial amount of time and investment in the program and is burdened by drops that occur after enrollment has been announced. As such, students should not register for this Externship if they are uncertain about remaining in the course. Please email externships@law.upenn.edu with any questions.

FACULTY SUPERVISION: Students are assigned a faculty supervisor who is a member of the Clinical Faculty with whom they will meet on a bi-weekly basis for hour-long tutorials.

Course Concentrations

Skills Learning outcomes: Demonstrate an understanding of the individual course skill; Demonstrate the ability to receive and implement feedback; Demonstrate an understanding of how and when the individual course skill is employed in practice.

Public Interest Learning outcomes: Demonstrate a core understanding of the varied legal aspects of public interest law; Perform legal analysis in the context of public interest law; Communicate effectively on topics related to public interest law; Demonstrate an understanding of how public interest law is connected to and affected by a wide variety of legal and regulatory structures and doctrines.