The USAO offers a limited number of unpaid student internships to eligible second and third year law students and 2nd year paralegal students at its office in Concord, New Hampshire. The internships are offered at the discretion of the USAO to students currently enrolled in law school, in good academic standing, who are capable of high quality legal research and writing. Students accepted into the program must pass an extensive background check and commit to remain for a sufficient period of time to enable their understanding of the USAO’s operation and to enhance the quality of their work. Internships are completed for academic credit or volunteer basis, and may last for one or two semesters.
All employees and volunteers at the USAO are required to have security clearances prior to entry on duty. To ensure that valuable internship time is not consumed by the background check process during the academic year, interested students should be prepared to apply for internships with the USAO as follows:
• For Fall semester, applications no later than May 1.
• For Spring semester, applications no later than October 1.
• For Summer semester, applications no later than February 1.
Applications shall consist of a resume, grade transcript, and statement of the student’s interest. Interviews will be conducted solely in the discretion of the USAO, at which time the student shall submit writing samples.
After the interview process, internship candidates are selected and contacted to re-affirm their interest and to review the various potential obstacles to obtaining a background clearance. If the internship candidate believes that there will be no potential obstacles to obtaining such a clearance, he or she will be provided with the necessary papers for a clearance application. These are to be diligently completed by the prospective internship candidate in a timely manner and submitted as directed by the USAO in order to permit sufficient time for the clearance process to be completed by the commencement of the academic year. Failure to obtain the necessary clearance will disqualify the internship candidate from further consideration.
Regrettably, the USAO has in the past been forced to reject a number of potential internship candidates during the course of the background checks.
In order to provide an early and clear understanding of the areas that are likely to prevent approval of a security clearance, interested students should take note of the following problem areas relevant to the clearance process. These include:
- ) Lack of United States citizenship;
- ) Failure to file income tax returns;
- ) Failure to pay income tax;
- ) Delinquent credit card or other debts;
- ) Student loan defaults;
- ) Student loans that should be, but are not, in payment status and that have not been given appropriate extensions;
- ) Other significant financial difficulties;
- ) A record of criminal convictions or domestic violence;
- ) Significant history of psychological illness;
- ) Illegal drug use in the recent past; and
- ) Excessive use or abuse of alcohol.
In the event a student is aware that such circumstances are likely to arise in the course of the background check, care should be taken by the student to consider seriously whether continuing the application process is worthwhile. Potential student applicants should be aware that the knowing falsification or concealment of a material fact on the background check application is a federal felony offense punishable by a term of up to five years imprisonment and/or a $10,000 fine.
A large percentage of internship work will consist primarily of legal research projects and preparation of accompanying legal memoranda or pleadings. In this regard, it must be stressed that, due to the nature of the USAO's responsibilities and short deadlines, strong research and writing skills are a must, as is the need for flexibility in the intern's scheduling. Interns should not have an expectation of being involved in complex or critical matters. Interns may perceive some of the work as routine, but it consists of the daily fare of an attorney in the USAO.
In order to apprize prospective student interns of the nature of the work they may be asked to perform, thus permitting students the opportunity to develop realistic goals for their internship, the following list illustrates the types of project areas an intern may be expected to encounter:
a.) Research and preparation of internal memoranda on issues of civil and criminal law;
b.) Organization and summarization of records and transcripts, either non-grand jury criminal records or civil discovery
c.) Support of AUSAs in preparing and responding to discovery, criminal and civil, including organization, preparation, and copying;
d.) Preparation of routine, and depending upon availability and experience, less routine, civil cases, including habeas corpus petitions;
e.) Research, writing and review for appellate briefs and motions; and
f.) Attendance, essentially as a paralegal or spectator, at hearings, trials and depositions.
Unfortunately, within this framework, certain limitations exist. First, student interns are strictly prohibited from access to the grand jury or to grand jury material and tax information, which may limit the extent of work that may be performed in the criminal area. Second, student interns are not permitted to represent the United States at judicial proceedings.
In order to ensure that the student intern's experience at the USAO is beneficial, the USAO will appoint an Assistant United States Attorney (AUSA) to coordinate all student intern assignments. That AUSA will screen requests by other AUSAs for student intern assistance and will connect the intern with the requesting AUSA. Any AUSA requesting student intern assistance is expected to provide adequate guidance and feedback to the intern to ensure that the assignment provides a learning experience. AUSAs are expected to encourage student interns to accompany them, as observers, to court hearings, depositions, debriefings (where appropriate), or other meetings.
The coordinating AUSA will receive copies of any written products prepared by the student intern. The coordinating AUSA will attempt to provide a student intern with a broad range of work, exposing the student to civil and criminal work in the USAO. The coordinating AUSA will also be available for periodic consultation with the student intern, will consult with the student's faculty advisor when necessary, and will be responsible for preparing a report for the student's law school regarding the student's internship performance. In order to receive academic credit, students must comply with all school rules relative to enrollment and responsibilities.
Internships at the USAO are at will and subject to termination in the discretion of the USAO. For example, the USAO reserves the right to discharge a student intern at any time for conduct that is disruptive to the function of the Office including, but not limited to, the failure to comport oneself in a professional and businesslike manner, the harassment of any member of the USAO or court personnel, or any conduct which constitutes an offense against the United States or is otherwise a violation of state or local law.
The U.S. Department of Justice, United States Attorney's Office for the District of New Hampshire, is an equal opportunity employer. Well-qualified applicants will receive consideration without regard to race, color, national origin, religion, sex, sexual orientation, age, marital status, disability, or any other non-merit factors.