For The Record

Richmond Law’s D.C. Externship Program is hitting its stride as it finishes its third year.

Launched in 2015, the program offers 3Ls practical experience in federal agencies and nonprofits. The students live in Washington for a semester, complete 500 hours of substantive legal work, and meet with each other and program director Steve Allred to explore how their jobs are structured, discuss management techniques, and hear from guest speakers.

The seminar component sets aside time for processing and discussion of the experience and the legal profession, a key benefit as students are “trying to navigate what can be a very intimidating profession,” Grayson Orsini, L’18, said.

Orsini was one of 11 students in the fall 2017 cohort, up from four in the program’s pilot year. Placements this year included Sen. Tim Kaine’s office, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, and the general counsel office for the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Lindsay Lehmen, L’18, completed her externship in the Department of Justice’s Office of Human Rights and Special Prosecutions. She spent most of her time in research and writing for HRSP, which investigates and prosecutes people accused of human rights violations and international crimes.

“I love working for Justice,” she said. “I like the issues that it allows you to work on. I like the people. I like the culture.”

Nicole Desbois, L’18, spent her time with the Competition Policy Division of the Wireline Competition Bureau of the Federal Communications Commission. The organization handles net neutrality rules, among other issues.

“You’re on the cutting edge of all these new emerging communication technologies,” Desbois said. “You get to be there and see how it works. … It’s fascinating.”

With an entire semester in Washington, networking opportunities abound, she added. Their experiences are what faculty envisioned when establishing the program.

“At a time when employers are seeking law graduates who are practice-ready, this program offers one way to gain valuable practice experience,” Allred, the program director, said. “It has also led to some great permanent placements of our students, including Honors Attorney positions.”