Leading legal minds into the future

If anyone knows anything about Laurie Christensen, an attorney with Baptist, it’s her relentless passion for mentoring young legal minds. It’s not surprising then when talking about the Baptist Legal Externship Program, Laurie can be found at the heart of the conversation.

For four years, Baptist attorneys have participated in the Public Interest Fair held annually at the Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law. Designed to help law students learn about pro bono externships at non-profit organizations, the event also allows non-profits and government agencies to educate students about career opportunities. This year, Baptist hosted two tables, where they gave out bags and healthy snacks.

The summer externship program at Baptist runs 40 hours per week for six weeks. Students receive law school credit and the unique experience of being part of an in-house legal team. And while it may seem the program serves as a stepping stone for employment, that’s not necessarily the case. “We serve as a resource for these students, often writing letters of recommendation to the state bar examiners or references for a possible position outside of Baptist. There are 30 externship sites across the city of Memphis for law students to choose from. We always feel very fortunate to have legal externs in our office,” said Laurie.

This year’s February event attracted about 100 students from the law school, and Baptist accepts one or two to work at the Corporate office.

“We treat the students like peers, not like interns. Everything we do, they do right beside us as they are being mentored by our attorneys.” In fact, Laurie says, “the students are treated just like new team members, even participating in the onboarding process.”

During the spring and fall semesters, the externship at Baptist is 12 hours per week for 14 weeks depending on the student’s schedules.

With summer approaching, more young minds will be working with Baptist’s legal team to gain real-world legal experience and grow their careers.