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Legal Careers

Law Clerk- Spring 2025

Hiring Organization
United States Attorney's Office (USAO)
Hiring Office
Southern District of California
880 Front Street, Suite 6293
San Diego, CA 92101 - United States
Application Deadline:
About the Office

The Southern District of California is one of 93 offices nationwide and one of four offices in California. While San Diego is the second largest city in California, the district is especially known for their role as a border gateway between Mexico and the United States. While San Diego is recognized as having the busiest border in the western hemisphere, the city is also famous for its beautiful weather, beaches, vibrant culture, and home to the largest concentration of Navy and Marine corps installations in the world!

The Office of the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of California invites well-qualified law students to apply to intern in our Civil and Criminal Divisions as law clerks. While this is a voluntary position, arrangements can be made through the law schools to obtain course credit, and with some schools, public interest stipends. This office has had numerous law clerks who have gone on to successful careers in both the private and public arena.

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

Position Description:

  • Law clerks work closely with the Assistant United States Attorneys in a number of litigation areas and on a variety of topics
  • Law clerks gain firsthand experience as a Federal Prosecutor
  • Law clerks will be involved with writing and responding to motions
  • Researching and writing appellate briefs
  • Reviewing evidence
  • Assisting with trial preparation (opportunities to appear in court are available to clerks who qualify for the Certification Program)

What We Offer:

  • Tours with federal agencies such as the United States Marshals Office, U.S Customs and Border Protection, Metropolitan Correction Center, and U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration
  •  Brown bag lunches are also scheduled, with speakers from around the office covering diverse topics such as comparisons between public and private practice, border issues affecting the office, and taking depositions.
  • Exposure to trial preparation
  • You must be a U.S. citizen 
  • You must be able to pass a security background check 
  • Top 25% of class 
Application Process

Please submit your application materials to: 

  • Cover letter in which you state your preference for our Civil or Criminal Division 
  • Resume 
  • Most recent unofficial transcript 
  • 5 - 10 page writing sample 


Number of Positions
20 (10 available positions in Civil & 10 available positions in Criminal)
Relocation Expenses

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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 June 6, 2024