The New York City Regulatory and Business Externship Program gives law and business students semester-long clinical experience in New York City’s financial sector — with both regulatory and commercial placements — and includes a companion course in ethics with students from both schools. The externship gives students leadership exposure that they cannot get elsewhere, says Associate Dean Janet Bolin, who coordinates the program for the law school.
“That financial and regulatory experience is inherent to New York,” Bolin says. “Students get to work with industry leaders and see their level of professionalism — their judgment, knowledge and human skills. It helps them model how to be a professional.”
Hillary Sale, the Walter D. Coles Professor of Law and professor of management, says the externship program is particularly valuable to law students interested in financial leadership because it gives them experience young lawyers normally cannot attain.
“It’s good to have opportunities to learn from talented leaders in top law firms in the New York financial and regulatory world, since they don’t hire students right out of law school,” Sale says. “By seeing and doing, our externs get hands-on experience they couldn’t get otherwise.”
What they see are legal and business leaders in action, who, says Sale, “understand people and strategy and how to manage them. They’re working side-by-side and have access to the inside of the business world at a very high level.”
“By working with leaders in the financial world, students also see the struggle between ethics and the bottom line,” Bolin says, “and they learn that not everything is always clear-cut.”
The externship program has been shown to be a win-win, both for the university and the regulatory and financial organizations that employ the students, says Sale.
“We’re getting great feedback from the employers about our students, and the students are expanding their networks and experiencing different leadership styles,” she says. “We hear them say it’s the best part of their law school career.”