Semester In DC Field Placement Program

National Mall, Photo by Jacob Creswick

Jacob Creswick

Together with the University of Iowa, Nebraska Law supports a student program encouraging students to spend fall semester working and learning in Washington DC.

The 12 credit hour DC Program provides students an opportunity to spend a semester in DC with a cohort of classmates while acquiring exposure to the unique legal environment of the Nation's Capital. All students can benefit from the chance to witness federal lawmaking firsthand whether they wish to live in DC long-term or not. Through the DC program, students can deepen their understanding of federal law by working in a government agency, or with a judge or non-profit public interest organization.

While in DC, students will also take a course, together with students from the University of Iowa, focused on the work of attorneys in the DC area. Learning objectives for the seminar include:

  • Examining the role of attorneys in DC, both within the federal government and in organizations working with or interacting with the federal government
  • Understanding and witnessing the function of administrative agencies and the process of federal lawmaking
  • Reflecting upon the students' collective field work experiences and how they may affect their professional identity and development
  • There will be opportunities to hear from DC-based attorneys and Nebraska and Iowa Law alumni, tour institutions such as the Supreme Court or Congress, and learn firsthand the process for federal lawmaking
  • Where available, students may be paired with alumni mentors during their time in DC, and there will be events to facilitate networking with DC area alumni.

Finding and Developing a Placement

Students are responsible for finding a position in DC - but the Director of Externships, the Career Development Office, and the faculty are here to help! If you're an employer seeking a student, we'd love to help you post a position and identify a great fit for your office. Below are some great resouces for students seeking a placement:

  • Start by searching 12Twenty
  • US Office of Personnel Management Portal:
  • Arizona Handbook (contact Career Development for link and password)
  • Washington Council of Lawyers
  • Positions on The Hill
  • Idealist
  • PSJD
  • Meet with Kala Mueller and/or Elsbeth Magilton


Students will earn 12 credit hours in this pre-approved semester long program. These 12 hours include the seminar course taught in DC which is graded pass/no-pass. This program is best situated for fall of 3L year.

Students will have three critical supervisors:

  • Elsbeth Magilton, Nebraska Law Director of Externships
  • Kate Mueting, DC course Professor, Sanford Heisler Sharp, LLP
  • The onsite supervisor at the placement

Students must meet with Elsbeth Magilton and receive approval to participate in the program after securing a field placement. Once receiving approval, students must submit the Student Proposal Form. 

Onsite supervisors will be expected to fill out the Nebraska Law Supervisor's Agreement and agree to the Supervisor Manual. Note, logistics for supervisors in the DC program may differ slightly (administratively) from what is outlined in the manual, though expectations for a high degree of mentorship and engagement remain.

Housing Resources

Links to popular housing websites. Some are specifically marketed towards student interns.



Will you bring your vehicle to DC? If so, consider whether your housing includes a parking spot, or if there is street parking.

Public Transportation

Make sure to consult the metro map. Identify your field placement site and its proximity to a metro station or bus stop. Focus on neighborhoods on a direct metro line or with a minimum number of transfers to your field placement location.

Considering Housing Options

  • What features do you need? What would you like to have?
  • Consider whether you need a washer/dryer, dishwasher, or elevator.  If your unit does not have laundry onsite, how close are you to the local laundromat or and dry cleaner?
  • Is it furnished?
  • Are utilities like electricity, water, gas or internet included?
  • Consider where you'd be shopping for groceries or household goods.  If you find housing located some distance from a grocery store, think about whether you can use public transit, or a grocery delivery service (e.g., Instacart or Peapod).
  • Some DC neighborhoods are known for vibrant nightlife. Consider your preferences for a more busy or quiet area.
  • Above all, be flexible.  Keep in mind that this is a short term arrangement and that some creativity can go a long way.

Financial Planning

Costs to student:

  • Nebraska Law Tuition 
  • Housing and Utilities
  • Meals
  • Transportation in DC
  • Travel to DC

Be sure to work with Nebraska's Financial Aid team.

The amount you can borrow increases for different areas to accommodate the cost of living.

In addition to the 'Semester in DC Program' Nebraska Law is also home to the 'Honors Externship in the Department of Defense Office of General Counsel (International Affairs)' supervised by Professor Jack Beard.
This honors externship in Washington, D.C. is one of the most prestigious international law/national security externship opportunities for law students in the United States Government and meets the requirements of a full semester (12 credits) at the University of Nebraska College of Law. Students serving in this externship are involved in significant work and every effort is made to integrate them into the professional life of the office. Duties include legal research, drafting memoranda and assisting in the drafting of international agreements, attending departmental and inter-agency meetings, and dealing with senior national security officials of the U.S. Government. The externship offers an unparalleled opportunity to observe and participate in international legal practice in the United States government, hands-on experience in national security legal matters, and a unique and valuable insight into career opportunities in this field. A security clearance is necessary.

This program is facilitated directly by Professor Beard, separately from the other externship programming, and interested students should contact him directly.

Portrait of Elsbeth

Elsbeth Magilton
Director of Externships