Department of Justice Internship Programs
To enforce the law and defend the interests of the United States according to the law; to ensure public safety against threats foreign and domestic; to provide federal leadership in preventing and controlling crime; to seek just punishment for those guilt
Volunteer Legal Intern Recruitment
Challenging work. Lots of responsibility. Interesting people. These are some of the phrases that students use to describe their experience as legal interns at the U.S. Department of Justice. The Department of Justice offers approximately 1,800 volunteer internships each year. Approximately 1000 are available during the summer; with the remaining 800 offered during the academic year.
Eligibility for the Volunteer Internships
First-year (second-semester), second-year and third-year law students are eligible to apply at any time. First-year, first-semester law students may apply after December 1 for internships the following summer. The Department follows the National Association of Law Placement guidelines that prohibit employer contact with first-year (first-semester) students regarding summer employment prior to that date. Law students may work in volunteer positions only while attending law school. Law school graduation terminates eligibility, except for graduate law students enrolled at least half time and who are not practicing law. Part-time and joint-degree law students may apply provided they meet eligibility requirements.
How to Apply
The Department publishes detailed information about volunteer opportunities and announces upcoming vacancies for specific offices in late summer (for internships during the academic year) and in December (for summer internships). Each participating office conducts its internship program independently and has its own internal deadlines. Students should apply separately to each office in which they have an interest. Offices typically request a resume and a law school transcript. Application requirements vary and are outlined in the “Qualifications” section of each announcement. Some organizations request a writing sample, a cover letter listing times and dates of availability, and references.
- Summer Internship Opportunities (For Summer 2008)
- Academic Year Internship Opportunities (Internships for Fall 2007 – Spring 2008)
Who is eligible for a Volunteer Legal Internship?
Generally, first-year (second semester), second- and third-year law students are eligible for volunteer legal internships. Law school graduates are not eligible for summer volunteer positions unless they are pursuing an additional graduate degree immediately following their law school graduation and are enrolled more then half time. Check individual listings for organization-specific eligibility requirements.
First-year (first semester) law students can apply after December 1 for internships the following summer. The Department follows the National Association for Law Placement (NALP) guidelines which prohibits employer contact with first-year (first semester) law students regarding summer employment prior to that date.
What kinds of internship positions are available for law students? The Department offers part-time, work-study, and volunteer internships that are open to law students who have not yet received their law degree and to law school graduates attending a graduate law program at least half-time. Internships are available during both the academic year and during the summer.
Part-time. There are a limited number of paid, part-time positions available in the Department. Please note that employment of full-time law students cannot exceed 20 hours per week. These are primarily for students working during the “regular” school year (September-May).
Work study. These are non-compensated positions for course credit or part of a law school’s work-study program. Students should contact their law school for specific requirements before applying for these positions.
Volunteer. The Department selects more than 1800 volunteers annually nationwide. First-year students, in particular, may wish to consider a volunteer summer legal internship. During the academic year, students may work up to 20 hours per week in a volunteer capacity.
What are the advantages of a volunteer internship?
Former interns have cited the following as benefits:
“Substantive, exciting, real work.” “Lots of responsibility.” “The respect the lawyers have for your opinion; they really want to know what you think.” “Opportunity to think creatively.” “Working with other interns.” “The opportunity to live in Washington, D.C. And see what it is like to work with the government.” “Access and exposure to a broad range of different areas.” “Supervisors bend over backwards to provide interns with a learning experience.” “The quality of the lawyers you work with and learn from.”
How do I apply?
Each Department organization conducts its volunteer intern program independently. You should apply separately to each organization in which you have an interest. There are two ways to apply:
(1) in response to a specific posting, or
(2) by applying directly to any Department organization in which you are interested that does not have a listing.
Application requirements and deadlines vary by organization, so you will need to consult each individual listing for specifics. As a general rule, students are encouraged to apply between December and February for summer internships. Note that many of the U.S. Attorneys’ Offices have early deadlines, some as early as December.
Most organizations ask for a resume. Some organizations may request a writing sample, a law school transcript (if available), a list of references, and/or information on geographic preferences or specific skills/knowledge, e.g., language fluency. It is always a good idea to include a cover letter which highlights your specific interest in an organization and any relevant academic, clinical or work experience.
Frequently Asked Questions
More answers to the most frequently asked questions about volunteer internships can be found here: