Law Student Volunteer

Office of Chief Counsel
Law Student Volunteer, Summer
Washington, DC, DC 20226
United States
About the Office: 

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) is a unique law enforcement agency within the United States Department of Justice (DOJ), whose mission is to protect our communities from violent criminals, criminal organizations, the illegal use and trafficking of firearms, the illegal use and storage of explosives, acts of arson and bombings, acts of terrorism, and the illegal diversion of alcohol and tobacco products.  As a small agency with broad, interrelated missions involving law enforcement, regulatory, compliance, and homeland-security concerns, ATF affords student interns with the opportunity to experience a variety of legal disciplines in a dynamic and collegial environment.

ATF's Office of Chief Counsel provides legal advice and services to the Bureau nationwide in support of programs and operations. Headquarters attorneys are divided into 5 practice groups: Asset Forfeiture; Litigation; Management; General Law and Information; and Firearms and Explosives Law.

Job Description: 

ATF's Office of Chief Counsel provides student interns with the opportunity to work closely with attorneys who: provide legal advice to a wide array of ATF and DOJ officials on ATF's policies, programs, and enforcement operations; review and draft potential legislation impacting ATF's authority and enforcement capabilities; and handle affirmative, defensive and personnel litigation for ATF. Interns can expect to research discrete legal issues, draft memoranda and correspondence, and perform other tasks as required.


Students who have completed one full year of law school by summer 2021.  Students who are interested in performing effective research and analysis of legal issues relating to the following areas are encouraged to apply: criminal laws and regulatory policy governing alcohol, tobacco, firearms and explosives; civil litigation, including employment, tort, and administrative challenges brought under the Administrative Procedures Act (APA); fiscal law; ethics; asset forfeiture and seized property; and disclosure law. Students must be a U.S. Citizen and will be subject to a security background investigation due to the sensitive nature of the work.

Uncompensated, volunteer position. Course credit is available depending on law school requirements.
Application Process: 

Please submit (1) a cover letter (including dates available) expressing your interest, (2) a resume, and (3) a brief writing sample (8 page maximum), via E-mail with “Summer 2021” in the subject line to CHIEFCOUNSEL-INTERNSHIPS@ATF.GOV.  Please include all materials in one PDF file.

Applications accepted on a rolling basis but must be submitted no later than December 1, 2020 for current 2L students, and by January 1, 2021 for current 1L students.

Application Deadline: 
Tuesday, December 1, 2020
Relocation Expenses: 
No relocation expenses will be authorized
Number of Positions: 
Updated October 8, 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.