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Legal Careers

Unpaid Law Student Volunteer, Summer- T-ETL

Hiring Organization
Civil Division (CIV)
Hiring Office
Environmental Torts
175 N Street NE
Washington, DC 20002 - United States
Application Deadline:
About the Office

The Environmental Torts Section (ET) defends the government in property damage, wrongful death, and personal injury cases involving toxic substances in the environment and federal facilities. ET's toxic tort matters are filed and litigated under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) and commonly involve complex scientific and medical issues requiring expert testimony. ET operates within a wide range of litigation, often defending the government in multiple-plaintiff lawsuits, in mass tort actions, and multi-district litigations. These cases are often brought by plaintiffs alleging injuries caused by air, surface, water, or groundwater contamination, or by direct contact with hazardous substances. Some of the more recent cases ET has litigated have related to (1) alleged groundwater contamination at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina; (2) a government contractor's fraud during the cleanup of the Hunters Point superfund site; (3) alleged heavy metal exposures from mine waste released into a river; (4) alleged exposure to per-fluorinated compounds; and (5) EPA's oversight of state and local agencies' activities concerning lead in the water supply of Flint, Michigan.

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

Are you interested in a rewarding and challenging opportunity? The Department of Justice is looking for ambitious and reliable volunteer law students who can:
· assist in handling large mass tort cases;
· investigate cases and organize large cases files;
· research federal and state law, and federal agency guidelines;
· research expert witnesses;
· summarize transcripts and medical reports;
· work on broad and diverse legal case matters; and
· be a part of a team that has responsibility, visibility, and importance.


Be a current law student. Excellent research and writing skills, organizational skills, attention to detail, and a desire to be part of a team environment are essential. Excellent opportunity for students with a background and interest in environmental law, toxic torts, and/or complex multi-party litigation and multi-district litigations. Must be a U.S. Citizen. Interns must be able to commit 40 hours per week for 8 to 12 weeks in the summer.

Application Process

Applicants should submit a cover letter, resume, and current transcript via email to The cover letter should be addressed to the "Environmental Torts - Law Student Volunteer Coordinator." It is best to send all documents in a single PDF. The consideration of applications and interview process will begin in mid-February 2023 and will proceed on a rolling basis until all positions are filled.


Volunteer (uncompensated). Course-credit, work-study, and externship opportunities are available depending on school requirements.

Number of Positions
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 January 27, 2023