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.
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.
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.