Supporting rural justice: judicial externships in county seats throughout Indiana

The Law School is excited to announce an innovative program that will place outstanding public-service oriented first-year law students as externs in the chambers of Indiana trial court judges. This first summer will serve as our pilot program and will include 4-5 1L students.  We hope to expand the program in future years.

The Supporting Rural Justice program spans eight weeks. It will begin mid-May, and will end in time to meet pre-semester obligations such as PGA training and Journal orientation.  Students will be supervised by individual Indiana judges and will assist with researching and drafting, motions, court orders, and decisions. Students will have multiple opportunities to learn about courtroom procedure and motion practice, observe trials, and encounter the rewards and challenges of serving rural communities. Students will be expected to be in court at least four days a week but can telecommute one day a week.


  • Each student will receive two academic credits
  • A $4,000 stipend for the eight-week summer position (with a mileage allotment if the student is doing substantial commuting, more than an hour each way).

Each participant will:

  • Attend a mandatory 2-3 day “boot camp” training session at the beginning of the summer, which will offer:
    • A civil procedure refresher with an emphasis on motion practice;
    • A crash course in basic courtroom evidence;
    • A basic overview of criminal procedure, with a focus on search and seizure;<
    • An introduction to some of the pressing issues that rural courts face, including issues related to the opioid epidemic, family law, and access to justice.
  • Submit regular short reflective essays and
  • Meet twice in the summer under the guidance of a faculty member.

Selection process

Criteria for selection will include academic achievement in law school and undergrad, public service, work ethic, and interest in and/or experience with legal and social issues of rural America.  To apply, please submit the following documents by February 6 at 11:59 p.m. to CareerNet:

  • A 1-2 page letter of interest explaining who you are and why you would like to participate in the program. In your letter, please indicate which counties you would like to serve. If you have a particular connection to an individual county, please let us know.  It is perfectly acceptable to express no preference, and there is no need to have prior connections with a particular county or with the State of Indiana;
  • A résumé;
  • An informal record of your grades from last semester;
  • The name of one of your Law School teachers who has agreed to serve as a reference.

Decisions will be made by a faculty committee, and awards will be announced by February 11. Please note that those who do not receive a Supporting Rural Justice award may nevertheless be eligible for a judicial externship and may receive course credit (which requires tuition but allows for summer loans) or may work for an Indiana trial judge as a volunteer.

Judges from 19 separate rural counties, nominated by the Indiana Supreme Court, have volunteered to mentor students, welcome them into chambers, and supervise the students’ work and experience.

Participating counties

County County seat city Distance from Bloomington
DeKalb Auburn 195 miles
Fountain Covington 108 miles
Jackson Brownstown 44 miles
Lawrence Bedford 25 miles
Miami Peru 133 miles
Newton Kentland 156 miles
Orange Paoli 45 miles
Owen Spencer 17 miles
Parke Rockville 72 miles
Putnam Greencastle 45 miles
Ripley Versailles 80 miles
Rush Rushville 93 miles
Starke Knox 168 miles
Vermillion Newport 90 miles
Vigo Terre Haute 59 miles
Washington Salem 57 miles
Wayne Richmond 121 miles
Wells Bluffton 159 miles
White Monticello 136 miles