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Legal Careers

Law Student Volunteer, Fall 2020

Hiring Organization
USAO Southern District of Iowa
Hiring Office
2020 Fall Semester
Job ID
3-SDIA-Law Student Volunteer-20
110 East Court Ave Suite 286
Des Moines, IA 500309 - United States
Application Deadline:
About the Office

The U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Iowa contains a Civil and Criminal Division. The Criminal Division prosecutes violations of federal criminal law - types of cases include, but are not limited to: mail, wire, tax and securities fraud; environmental crimes; firearm crimes; bank robbery; drug crimes; Internet predators; etc. The Civil Division attorneys act as defense counsel for government agencies and employees. Types of civil cases handled include, but are not limited to: discrimination (race, sex, age, disability, religion); bankruptcy; immigration; Federal Tort Claims Act; etc. Civil Division attorneys also act as plaintiff's counsel in areas, which include, but are not limited to: Medicaid and Medicare fraud; the False Claims Act; and any other cases in which the United States has been injured financially or where injunctive relief is needed.

Office Website:

As the federal agency whose mission is to ensure the fair and impartial administration of justice for all Americans, the Department of Justice is committed to fostering a diverse and inclusive work environment. To build and retain a workforce that reflects the diverse experiences and perspectives of the American people, we welcome applicants from the many communities, identities, races, ethnicities, backgrounds, abilities, religions, and cultures of the United States who share our commitment to public service.

Job Description

Assignments include, but are not limited to, assisting attorneys with legal research; writing pleadings; trial preparation; and drafting responsive motions, dispositive motions, memoranda of law, and appellate briefs. The law student volunteers will become familiar with the Federal Rules of Civil and Criminal Procedure, the Federal Rules of Evidence, the local rules of practice for the United States District Court, and the local and Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure. In addition, they may attend witness interviews, meetings with investigative agents, and accompany the attorneys to observe court proceedings in cases on which they have worked or in cases of general interest in the office. Law students who qualify to practice under the district court's student practice rules may also be assigned to handle motion hearings. Our goal is to introduce law students to the federal legal system and to help them develop their practical legal skills.


Law Students with strong legal research, analysis, and writing skills. U.S. citizenship required. Ability to volunteer 16-40 hours a week is required. Due to the sensitive nature of the work performed by the office, candidates invited to interview will be expected to consent to a credit check; all offers to candidates are conditioned upon the successful completion of a required background check which requires disclosure of any drug use, law enforcement and employment records, and financial credit information.

Application Process

E-mailed applications are preferred and may be sent to

In your cover letter, please state location preference. Please also state whether you are interested in a position in the Criminal Division, the Civil Division, or both.

Attached to each e-mail should be a single pdf file consisting of: (1) cover letter (including availability and desired office location i.e. Des Moines, Davenport or Council Bluffs); (2) resume; (3) law school transcript; and (4) a legal writing sample (no more than 10 pages)

Applications may also be mailed to:
U.S. Attorney's Office
Southern District of Iowa
110 East Court Ave
Des Moines, IA 50309

Point of Contact: David Harris (Human Resources Specialist)

Fax: (515) 473-9298



Number of Positions
Up to five student volunteer opportunities may be available for fall 2020. Three students may be selected in the Des Moines office, one student in the Davenport branch office, and one student in the Council Bluffs branch office.
Relocation Expenses
Relocation expenses will not be paid.

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Department Policies

Equal Employment Opportunity:  The U.S. Department of Justice is an Equal Opportunity/Reasonable Accommodation Employer.  Except where otherwise provided by law, there will be no discrimination because of race, color, religion, national origin, sex - including gender identity, sexual orientation, or pregnancy status - or because of age (over 40), physical or mental disability, protected genetic information, parental status, marital status, political affiliation, or any other non-merit based factor.  The Department of Justice welcomes and encourages applications from persons with physical and mental disabilities. The Department is firmly committed to satisfying its affirmative obligations under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, to ensure that persons with disabilities have every opportunity to be hired and advanced on the basis of merit within the Department of Justice. For more information, please review our full EEO Statement.

Reasonable Accommodations:  This agency provides reasonable accommodation to applicants with disabilities where appropriate. If you need a reasonable accommodation for any part of the application and hiring process, please notify the agency.  Determinations on requests for reasonable accommodation will be made on a case-by-case basis.

Outreach and Recruitment for Qualified Applicants with Disabilities:  The Department encourages qualified applicants with disabilities, including individuals with targeted/severe disabilities to apply in response to posted vacancy announcements.  Qualified applicants with targeted/severe disabilities may be eligible for direct hire, non-competitive appointment under Schedule A (5 C.F.R. § 213.3102(u)) hiring authority.  Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to contact one of the Department’s Disability Points of Contact (DPOC) to express an interest in being considered for a position. See list of DPOCs.   

Suitability and Citizenship:  It is the policy of the Department to achieve a drug-free workplace and persons selected for employment will be required to pass a drug test which screens for illegal drug use prior to final appointment.  Employment is also contingent upon the completion and satisfactory adjudication of a background investigation. Congress generally prohibits agencies from employing non-citizens within the United States, except for a few narrow exceptions as set forth in the annual Appropriations Act (see, Pursuant to DOJ component policies, only U.S. citizens are eligible for employment with the Executive Office for Immigration Review, U.S. Trustee’s Offices, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Unless otherwise indicated in a particular job advertisement, qualifying non-U.S. citizens meeting immigration and appropriations law criteria may apply for employment with other DOJ organizations. However, please be advised that the appointment of non-U.S. citizens is extremely rare; such appointments would be possible only if necessary to accomplish the Department's mission and would be subject to strict security requirements. Applicants who hold dual citizenship in the U.S. and another country will be considered on a case-by-case basis. All DOJ employees are subject to a residency requirement. Candidates must have lived in the United States for at least three of the past five years. The three-year period is cumulative, not necessarily consecutive. Federal or military employees, or dependents of federal or military employees serving overseas, are excepted from this requirement. This is a Department security requirement which is waived only for extreme circumstances and handled on a case-by-case basis.

Veterans:  There is no formal rating system for applying veterans' preference to attorney appointments in the excepted service; however, the Department of Justice considers veterans' preference eligibility as a positive factor in attorney hiring. Applicants eligible for veterans' preference must include that information in their cover letter or resume and attach supporting documentation (e.g., the DD 214, Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty and other supporting documentation) to their submissions. Although the "point" system is not used, per se, applicants eligible to claim 10-point preference must submit Standard Form (SF) 15, Application for 10-Point Veteran Preference, and submit the supporting documentation required for the specific type of preference claimed (visit the OPM website, for a copy of SF 15, which lists the types of 10-point preferences and the required supporting document(s). Applicants should note that SF 15 requires supporting documentation associated with service- connected disabilities or receipt of nonservice-connected disability pensions to be dated 1991 or later except in the case of service members submitting official statements or retirement orders from a branch of the Armed Forces showing that their retirement was due to a permanent service-connected disability or that they were transferred to the permanent disability retired list (the statement or retirement orders must indicate that the disability is 10% or more).

USAO Residency Requirement:  Assistant United States Attorneys must reside in the district to which appointed or within 25 miles thereof.  See 28 U.S.C. 545 for district specific information.

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This and other vacancy announcements can be found under Attorney Vacancies and Volunteer Legal Internships. The Department of Justice cannot control further dissemination and/or posting of information contained in this vacancy announcement. Such posting and/or dissemination is not an endorsement by the Department of the organization or group disseminating and/or posting the information.

Updated July 22, 2020