Board Service Leadership Externship Program

Learning to lead in your community through nonprofit board service

This one-year, two-credit hour externship experience partners students with attorneys serving on boards in eastern Nebraska to learn more about service and leadership as an attorney.

Second- and third-year law students should be encouraged to begin thinking about how lawyers lead others, including serving in their community. Many attorneys are asked to join non-profit boards, bringing their skills to these important organizations. This “course plus externship course” is an opportunity for students to learn about this type of service, engage with alumni, and reflect on how they can use their developing professional skills to benefit their community. In the Board Service Program law students who are in, or have taken, Nonprofit Organizations may extern on a nonprofit board of directors in a non-voting seat.

Eligible Students

Students in the Board Service Program are required to take Professor Paul Weitzel’s LAW 620 Nonprofit Organizations for 3 credit hours in the fall, where Business Associations is a co or pre-requisite. Students in that class are specifically invited to this program, and those selected will participate in the Board Service Program Extern Course, with the Director of Externships, Elsbeth Magilton. 

Planning and Structure

The Board Service Externship Program Course meets just 3 times in the fall, accommodating Professor Weitzel’s Nonprofit Organizations Course and onsite hours, but bi-weekly in the spring. Students in the program earn 2 total credit hours of externship credit upon completion of 85 hours of time in the course, preparing for the course, board meetings, working with their board member onsite supervisors, observing non-profit executive directors, and preparing for board meetings. Time spent in LAW 620 will not count towards the externship. Students will register for 1 externship hour in the fall and 1 in the spring. 

Board Service Externship Program Course

The three Board Service Externship Program Course sessions in the fall will focus on self-leadership and project development, encouraging the students to think about how they can engage their supervisors and boards. Examples of this include reviewing the organizations bylaws, take meeting minutes in support of the Secretary, and reviewing annual filings to the Secretary of State. 

The second semester sessions will take a deeper dive into non-profit leadership. This will include sessions with Professors Stohs and Weitzel on non-profit finance, start-up, and tax considerations. Magilton, with guests, will teach sessions on fundraising and solicitation, board composition, public speaking, and time management for new professionals. Students will complete a final project which may be guided by the needs of the board, or where needed, with the Director of Externships.

Interested students or board members should contact the Director of Externships, Elsbeth Magilton, at

Participating Boards

Child Advocacy Center Brave Be logo

Brave Be

The BraveBe Child Advocacy Center is a nonprofit organization providing a safe, child friendly location for conducting forensic interviews and medical evaluations for abused children in Southeast Nebraska. 

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Lux Center for the Arts logo
LUX Center for the Arts

The LUX Center for the Arts is dedicated to transforming lives through art. They provide education through art classes, artist in residency programs, gallery exhibitions, and community outreach.

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Mourning Hope logo
Mourning Hope

Mourning Hope companions children, adults and families before and after a death loss. They provide support groups, counseling, community education, resources, and referrals.

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Townhall series logo

Omaha Town Hall Lecture Series

Omaha Town Hall Lecture Series is committed to enhancing the cultural life of the metropolitan area. They present experts speaking on topics from entertainment to history, politics to art, geography to journalism.

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Lincoln Children's Museum Teal Logo

Lincoln Children's Museum

The Lincoln Children’s Museum invites children to create, discover, and learn through the power of play. They provide exhibits and programs that stimulate curiosity, motivate learning, and support the wellbeing of children and families.

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Hours and Grading

Upon the successful completion of the externship, the student will receive 2 credits of Board Service Externship credit, graded as a Pass and reflected as such on their transcript. Students will register for 1 credit hour in the fall semester and 1 credit in the spring.

Each credit hour requires 42.5 hours of work. This work is done by attending the Board Service Externship Program Course, work for that course, board meetings and committee meetings, meeting with the on-site supervisor, writing reflection journals and other assignments.

Anticipated Outcomes

  • Increased understanding of how nonprofit organizations operate, including exposure to the work of boards of directors as governance institutions in nonprofit organizations and how that contrasts with the role in for-profit organizations;
  • Increased understanding of the roles and responsibilities of board members, and how they are different from the roles and responsibilities of a lawyer who advises the board in a professional legal capacity;
  • Expanded understanding of the roles lawyers play in the leadership of communities and community organizations;
  • Exposure to skills relevant to lawyering through participation in or observation of such as meetings, monitoring, overseeing, investigating, and developing strategy for organizational operations;
  • Development of advocacy skills through participation in corporate board and subcommittee meetings;
  • Professional network creation and expansion;
  • Increased understanding of leadership styles and approaches; and
  • 2 academic credits awarded on a Pass/No Pass basis.

Application Process

Students interested in participating in the Board Service Leadership Externship Program can apply on 12Twenty, the Nebraska Law Career Development site.

For questions please contact Elsbeth Magilton at