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Legal Careers

Law Student Volunteer - Summer 2023

Hiring Organization
USAO Middle District of Tennessee
Hiring Office
U.S. Attorney's Office for the Middle District of Tennessee
719 Church Street, Suite 3300
Nashville, TN 37203 - United States
Application Deadline:
About the Office

The Office of the United States Attorney for the Middle District of Tennessee represents the federal government in criminal and civil actions within 32 of 95 counties in the State of Tennessee. The Criminal Division handles a variety of case: Violent Crimes, Narcotics, Organized Crime, White Collar Crime, Online Child Exploitation, and General Crimes. Attorneys within the Civil Division represent the United States and its departments and agencies in civil proceedings filed against the United States in federal court and/or handle affirmative civil enforcement cases. Approximately 40 attorneys work in the office – approximately 75% of the attorneys work in the Criminal Division and 25% work in the Civil Division. The office is located in Nashville, Tennessee.

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

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Tennessee utilizes the volunteer services of law students on a year-round basis. These legal interns are unpaid volunteers who work either for the experience and/or for academic credit. The program is intended to give currently enrolled law students the opportunity to assist in the prosecution and defense of both criminal and civil cases in the District Court in the Middle District of Tennessee and the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Legal interns are not assigned to any particular section or division and have the opportunity to do work in both the Criminal and Civil Divisions. Interns will have an opportunity to choose from a variety of projects submitted by attorneys, and a supervising attorney will be available to the interns throughout the internships. Additionally, summer interns will have a mentoring attorney to guide them in their assignments and answer questions about the office and legal career choices.

Legal interns typically research legal issues, write memos and/or draft responses in pending cases, prepare jury instructions or other pretrial filings, and assist with appellate briefs. Legal interns also work with attorneys in responding to discovery, interviewing or deposing witnesses, assembling exhibits for trial, and negotiating settlements. Additionally, interns are encouraged to observe hearings and trials. Summer interns also have the opportunity to participate in several extracurricular activities, including tours of a local jail, a state prison, the medical examiner’s office, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, the Metropolitan Nashville Police Academy, and various federal agencies. Summer interns are encouraged to participate in a ride-along program with the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department. Additional opportunities for summer interns will include talking with local judges and assistant federal public defenders, and participating in roundtable discussions with AUSAs to discuss various topics including judicial clerkships, the DOJ Honors program, public interest works, and other topics.

Summer interns are expected to work full time for 12 weeks. Splitting the summer is strongly discouraged but will be considered for rising third year students when compelling circumstances warrant such an exception. The summer intern program for 2023 is tentatively set for May 22, 2023, through August 12, 2023.

Legal interns who work during the semester are expected to work at least 12 hours a week for a minimum of 12 weeks (144 hours) during the school semester (early January through April in the spring, and mid-August through early December in the fall).


Applicants must be U.S. citizens. Applicants also must be enrolled in a law school at the time of work in the U.S. Attorney’s Office. We are not permitted to hire high school students, undergraduate students, or any one not enrolled in law school to work in the legal intern program; such inquiries should be directed to the Human Resources Department within the office.

Prior to beginning work as a legal intern, candidates must undergo a background check, which addresses criminal history, credit history, character issues, and recent drug usage (use within the last year or while enrolled in law school may be disqualifying). This background check takes approximately three months, which is why the deadlines for application submissions are so early. All offers are contingent on the student timely submitting their package for the background check, as well as the outcome of the background check itself.

Application Process

To submit an application, a currently enrolled law student should submit four items in PDF format to the email

  • Cover letter: please include a letter separate from your email and include your law school, year in law school, and personal statement reflecting your background and reason for your interest in the program; emails will not be distributed to or considered by the hiring committee
  • Resume: please limit to one page; include your email address and phone number where you can be reached during the day
  • Transcript: an unofficial version is fine; please update your transcript one you receive it in January
  • Writing sample: short (e.g. no more than 5 pages) samples reflecting writing, research, and analytic skills are preferred

Please submit each of the four PDF documents listed above as individual PDF files to the email, identifying each file as follows: “[LastName], [FirstName]   –   [DocumentType]” (e.g. Doe,  Jane   –   Cover Letter.pdf).

NOTE: All applicants still interested in the summer internships should update their applications as soon as possible after receiving their most recent set of grades.

Applications for summer employment in 2023 should be received no later than January 24, 2023. Interviews will be conducted in person or by video conference during February and will be arranged by email. Contingent offers are expected to be extended by March 3, 2023.

Applications for students interested in working part time during the school year must be received by May 1 for work in the Fall semester and by October 1 for the Spring semester. Although we receive over 100 applications for the summer program, we sometimes have unfilled positions during the semester and encourage students to apply!

Please direct any questions to Carrie Daughtrey via email at or by telephone (615-401-6583).


Uncompensated, academic course credit possible

Number of Positions
Up to 8
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 11, 2023