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Legal Careers

Law Student Volunteer

Hiring Organization
USAO District of Arizona
Hiring Office
PHOENIX, AZ 85004 - United States
About the Office

The Criminal Division of the USAO for the District of Arizona has primary responsibility for prosecuting federal crimes in and relating to Arizona.  Our extensive criminal practice is broken into five sections:

(1) Violent Crimes 1 and 2 (e.g., homicides, sexual assaults, and other major offenses committed on Native American reservations); Violent Crimes 3 (e.g., bank robberies, firearms offenses including gun trafficking, gang cases, assaults on Federal officers, child exploitation, and human trafficking);

(2) Southwest Border Crimes (e.g., illegal re-entry of aliens after deportation, alien smuggling, and drug seizures at the ports of entry);

(3) Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) and Asset Forfeiture (e.g., large-scale narcotics trafficking organizations);

(4) Financial Crimes and Public Corruption (e.g., securities or mortgage fraud, bribery of public officials); and

(5) National Security (e.g., domestic and international terrorism, international smuggling and export violations, and economic espionage).

We also have an appellate practice, which draws cases from the five groups described above.   Law student externs have opportunities for direct involvement in all of our practice areas.

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

Law student externships are available during the fall and spring semesters of the academic year, as well as during the summer.  Externs during the fall and spring semesters generally work part-time, while summer externs work full-time. 

Law student externs have unparalleled opportunities for direct, substantive involvement in federal criminal prosecution.  Our law student externs frequently complete the following assignments:  research legal issues in active cases; write briefs filed in the District Court or the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals; assist with trial preparation, evidence review, and witness interviews; observe hearings, jury selection, and trial; and contribute to a variety of other projects relating to federal criminal prosecution.  Externs will receive assignments in as many different practice areas and with as many different attorneys as possible, providing exposure to a number of subject matters and styles of practice.  

In addition to the externships discussed in this listing, there are externship opportunities in the Civil Division of the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Arizona.  Civil Division externship opportunities are described in a separate listing.

Externship Location: Phoenix

Minimum Weeks Required: Flexible.  Applicants who are available for at least 10 weeks will be preferred.

Web Site:


First, second, or third year of law school.  Must be a U.S. citizen.  Strong grades, and excellent research and writing skills.  A background check (covering criminal and financial history, among other things) is required because of the sensitive nature of the work performed by the United States Attorney’s Office.

Application Process

Applications should include the following materials, all in one consolidated PDF file: (a) cover letter, (b) résumé, (c) law school transcript, (d) legal writing sample, (e) dates of availability, and (f) telephone number(s) where the applicant can be reached in the daytime and evenings. 

Arizona State University students should apply through their Career Services office.  Non-ASU students should apply by emailing the contact listed below.

should apply by emailing the contact listed below.

USAO District of Arizona

Criminal Division
2 Renaissance Square

40 N. Central Ave, Suite 1800
Phoenix, AZ 85004

ATTN: Phoenix Criminal Extern Committee


Application Periods: 

Applications are accepted and reviewed on a rolling basis with the following deadlines:

Spring Semester 2025 – Apply by September 15, 2024

Summer 2025 – Apply by February 15, 2025

Fall Semester 2025 – Apply by February 15, 2025

(For ASU students, please refer to school-specific deadlines available through Career Services)


The externships are unpaid, and externs will not receive benefits; however, the office will work with law schools that offer academic course credit.

Number of Positions

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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 10, 2024