Unpaid Law Student Volunteer, Academic Year-Appellate Staff

Appellate Staff
Law Student Volunteer, Academic Year
950 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20530
United States
About the Office: 

The Appellate Staff of the Civil Division prepares appellate briefs and presents oral argument in all federal courts of appeals, representing the United States and its agencies and officers in some of the most high-profile and sensitive litigation in the country.  The Staff also prepares recommendations for or against further review in cases that the government loses in the district courts or courts of appeals, as well as recommendations for or against intervention or amicus participation in cases in which the government is not a party.  In addition, the Staff prepares draft certiorari petitions, briefs in opposition to certiorari petitions, invited amicus briefs (in cases where the Supreme Court calls for the government's views), and Supreme Court merits briefs on behalf of the Solicitor General's office.  The Staff's litigation covers a wide variety of important legal issues, including cases involving separation of powers, federalism/preemption, First Amendment, Second Amendment, administrative law, False Claims Act, Freedom of Information Act/Privacy Act, commercial litigation, intellectual property law, tort claims, and representation of individuals charged with constitutional violations of a person's rights (Bivens cases).

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: 

Interns typically perform legal research, write memoranda, and prepare initial drafts of appellate briefs.  In addition to case law and treatise research, assignments often entail searching legislative history to aid in statutory interpretation issues.  Interns also participate as judges in moot courts with staff attorneys, present moot oral arguments in cases for which they have completed assignments, and are encouraged to attend oral arguments in the District of Columbia and Federal Circuits.


Candidates must be current law students who will have completed at least one year of law school by the start of the internship.  Candidates must have excellent writing skills and high academic standing.  Candidates must be U.S. citizens or nationals, must have resided at least three of the past five years in the United States, and must successfully complete a background investigation.
Interns may work either full- or part-time.  At a minimum, interns must work at least 20 hours per week for at least 10 weeks.  Interns may choose one of three options for their internship: (1) working at our Washington, DC office in person, (2) working remotely, or (3) working both in-person and remotely.

Academic or work-study credit possible. Transit subsidies are available.
Application Process: 

All applicants should submit a cover letter, resume, writing sample, and law school transcript (unofficial versions accepted).  Applicants who are current 1Ls are also required to submit an undergraduate transcript (unofficial versions accepted); an undergraduate transcript is optional for current 2Ls and 3Ls.  Applications should be sent by email to Dana Kaersvang, Michael Shih, and Laura Myron at civapp.internjobs@usdoj.gov.  
Please consolidate all application materials into a single PDF file labeled with your name in the following format: [LAST NAME], [FIRST NAME] - [Fall/Spring] Internship Application, [LAW SCHOOL] [CLASS YEAR]. Please use the same format for the subject line of your email.
Applications for fall- or spring-semester positions are accepted on a rolling basis, and positions are typically filled several months in advance.  For the fall semester, applicants are encouraged to apply by April 1; for the spring semester, applicants are encouraged to apply by October 15.

Relocation Expenses: 
Number of Positions: 
3 to 4 per semester.
Updated July 6, 2022

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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, https://www.usajobs.gov/Help/working-in-government/non-citizens/). 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, www.opm.gov/forms/pdf_fill/SF15.pdf 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.