Law Student Volunteer - 2020/2021

Law Student Volunteer, Summer
Washington, DC 20530
United States
About the Office: 

The mission of the Office of the Pardon Attorney is to advise the President on the exercise of his power to grant clemency for offenses against the United States, pursuant to Article II, § 2 of the Constitution. The Office processes petitions for all forms of clemency, including pardon, commutation of sentence, and remission of fine, by conducting the necessary investigation on each petition and preparing a report and recommendation to the President for the signature of the Deputy Attorney General. The Office prepares documents, such as warrants of clemency and notices of denial, necessary to implement the President's decisions. The Office also acts as a liaison with the applicant and the public throughout the pendency of the clemency case, and is the repository of records concerning grants of clemency over the years.

For more information about the Office of the Pardon Attorney please visit:

Job Description: 

Volunteer law interns will assist the Office's attorneys in case-processing tasks, such as preparing drafts of reports to the President on selected cases, as well as preparing responses to correspondence. Special research projects may be assigned by Office attorneys as need dictates, and may include historical and legal research.


Second-year law students. Must have word processing skills and ability to quickly learn new information technology. Students with an interest in criminal justice, constitutional law, administrative law, or prisoner rights would be good matches for this Office.

Uncompensated volunteers. PARDON works with law schools that offer academic course credit and work-study.
Application Process: 

Interns are a year-round need for this Office.

Deadline for submitting applications for 2020 Summer Semester: March 15, 2020

Deadline for submitting applications for 2020 Fall Semester: June 1, 2020

Deadline for submitting applications for 2021 Spring Semester: October 1, 2021

Required start date for 2020 Summer Semester: May 26, 2020 (minimum of 40 hours per week and 10 week commitment)

Required start date for 2020 Fall Semester: September 8, 2020 (minimum of 16 hours per week and 12 week commitment)

Required start date for 2021 Spring Semester: January 26, 2020 (minimum of 16 hours per week and 12 week commitment)

All potential candidates should attach the following documents to their initial email and should be sure indicate "Volunteer Law Internship for OPA" in the subject line:

-Cover letter


-Writing sample

Office of the Pardon Attorney
145 N Street N.E., Suite 5E.109
Washington, DC 20530
ATTN: Christina Smith, Senior Attorney-Advisor/Intern Coordinator

Relocation Expenses: 
Not applicable
Number of Positions: 
OPA will accept as many volunteer interns as it has space to accommodate.
Updated February 11, 2020

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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 color, race, religion, national origin, political affiliation, marital status, disability (physical or mental), age, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, protected genetic information, pregnancy, status as a parent, or any other nonmerit-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 his  or her retirement was due to a permanent service-connected disability or that he/she was transferred to the permanent disability retired list (the statement or retirement orders must indicate that the disability is 10% or more).


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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.