Unpaid Law Student Volunteer, Academic Year- Federal Programs

Federal Programs Branch
Law Student Volunteer, Academic Year
1100 L St NW
Washington, DC 20530
United States
About the Office: 

The Civil Division's Federal Programs Branch represents the Executive Branch in civil litigation in district courts throughout the United States. The Branch defends the Executive Office of the President, the Cabinet, other government officials, and virtually all of the approximately 100 federal agencies and departments of the Executive Branch in civil actions challenging the legality of government policies and decisions. 
Much of the Branch's work arises in high-profile lawsuits involving cutting edge issues of administrative and constitutional law, including the scope of congressional and executive power. Many Branch cases involve Administrative Procedure Act (APA) claims that implicate billions of dollars in federal funds and affect the lives of millions of Americans. Others have far-reaching public policy implications.  For example, the following recent Supreme Court cases were handled by Branch attorneys at the district-court level: NFIB v. Sebelius, 567 U.S. 519 (2012) (challenging the legality of the Affordable Care Act); DHS v. Regents of the University of California, 140 S. Ct. 1891 (2020) (challenging the attempted rescission of DACA program); Biden v. Missouri, 142 S. Ct. 647 (2022) (challenging healthcare workers' COVID-19 vaccine mandate); and Biden v. Nebraska, 143 S. Ct. 2355 (2023) (challenging a program to forgive student loan debt under Higher Education Relief Opportunities for Students Act of 2003). The Branch also brings affirmative litigation to enjoin actions of state and local governments that conflict with the Supremacy Clause and to enforce a variety of agency statutory and regulatory powers. 
Branch litigation is fast-paced and resource-intensive, and ranges from single-plaintiff actions to complex nationwide class actions. It requires coordination with involved agencies, the White House, and the Department of Justice's leadership offices.
The Branch is headed by three directors, who oversee a staff of approximately 110 attorneys and 25 support personnel. The Branch's twelve litigation areas are managed by two deputy directors and twelve assistant directors.  Branch attorneys can specialize their practice but are expected to, and typically maintain, case dockets across any of these litigation areas.
The Branch's twelve litigation areas are: Area 1 --Affirmative Litigation, Regulatory Enforcement, & Third-Party Subpoenas/Touhy Requests; Area 2 --Nondiscrimination Personnel Litigation; Area 3 --Government Information; Area 4 --Health and Education; Area 5 --Housing and Community Development; Area 6 --National Security, National Defense, & Foreign Policy; Area 7 --Agriculture, Energy, & Interior; Area 8 --Foreign and Domestic Commerce; Area 9 --Miscellaneous Litigation; Area 10 --Employment Discrimination Litigation; Area 11 --Social Security Administration and Departments of Labor, Transportation, & Veteran Affairs; Area 12 --Department of Justice & Department of Homeland Security.  More information about the Branch's litigation areas can be found at https://www.justice.gov/civil/federal-programs-branch. 
The Branch's name originated in 1978, when the Civil Division's litigation sections were reorganized and divided into three broad branches: Commercial, Torts, and Federal Programs. As their names suggest, the Commercial and Torts branches were directed to handle litigation arising principally from “commercial” activities and sounding in tort, respectively. The Civil Division's remaining litigation would be handled by the Federal Programs Branch, including “litigation against cabinet officers, agencies or officials challenging their programmatic activities,” “enforcement litigation aimed at remedying statutory or regulatory violations,” “personnel actions involving Title VII,” and “litigation relating to the disposition of government records.” See Memorandum from Barbara Allen Babcock, Assistant Att'y Gen, Civ. Div., to General Counsel, Dep't of Just. (Aug. 23, 1978).  The Civil Division and the Branch have undergone several reorganizations since 1978 --including when the Branch's appellate litigation function was separated to become the Appellate Staff and later when separate Branches were established to handle consumer protection and certain immigration litigation --but the Branch has kept its name.

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 work closely with the Branch's trial attorneys and, like trial attorneys, interns may receive assignments in any of the Branch's practice areas and at any phase of district court litigation. Interns conduct legal and factual research and analysis, draft briefs, other court filings, internal memos, and client letters, and otherwise assist trial attorneys in advising clients, developing case strategies, and preparing for court appearances. Interns are regularly invited to attend client meetings, moot courts, oral arguments, depositions, and other litigation events. Interns also participate in the Branch's robust programming. 


Students must have completed at least one year of law school by the start of the internship. Candidates should have excellent writing skills and high academic standing. Candidates must also 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.

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). Compelling cover letters will address, among other things, the nature of the applicant's interest in the work of the Branch and in government service. Cover letters should also identify the dates an applicant will be available to intern with the Branch.
Applications should be sent by email to FPB.Resumes.Interns@usdoj.gov. Please consolidate all application materials into a single PDF file labeled with your name in the following format: [LAST NAME], [FIRST NAME]  - [SEMESTER] Internship Application, [LAW SCHOOL] [CLASS YEAR]. Please use the same format for the subject line of your email.
Our office hires semester interns on a rolling basis. For the fall semester, applicants are encouraged to apply by April 30. For the spring semester, applicants are encouraged to apply by October 15. 

Relocation Expenses: 
Number of Positions: 
Updated September 13, 2023

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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.