Volunteer Law Clerk Intern – Spring 2018

Natural Resources Section
Law Student Volunteer, Academic Year
501 I Street, Suite 9-700
Sacramento, CA 95814
United States
About the Office: 

The Environment and Natural Resources Division (“ENRD”) is the Nation’s environmental lawyer and the largest environmental law firm in the world. It is responsible for litigation at the frontiers of the law, ranging from protection of endangered species, to global climate change, to cleaning up the nation’s hazardous waste sites. Over one-half of ENRD’s lawyers are involved in enforcing the nation’s civil and criminal environmental laws in order to protect the health and environment of citizens of the United States. ENRD also defends environmental challenges to government programs and activities. It represents the U.S. in all matters concerning the protection, use, and development of the nation’s natural resources and public lands, wildlife protection, Native American rights and claims, and the acquisition of Federal property. Many of these cases are precedent-setting.

The Sacramento Field Office (“SFO”) is comprised of attorneys representing ENRD’s Natural Resources Section (“NRS”). NRS is responsible for litigation involving the nation’s national forests and parks, other federally-owned public lands, and natural resources including water resources. NRS defends challenges brought by industry and environmental groups on issues including maintaining public lands such as national parks and forests, defending specific agency decisions regarding the use of natural resources, and litigating whether regulatory programs and actions are takings under the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. A significant portion of the dockets of SFO attorneys involve litigation over federal water management decisions in California and elsewhere in the West, Fifth Amendment takings litigation, and challenges to federal agency decisions under the National Environmental Policy Act.

Job Description: 

ENRD’s Sacramento Field Office is seeking law students with a strong interest in gaining practical experience in environmental law and litigation. Law clerks are called upon to conduct legal research on a variety of issues ranging from environmental law to federal practice and procedure, and evidence. In planning assignments, our attorneys make every effort to provide each student with challenging work in as many areas of our practice as possible. Clerks typically research and draft legal memoranda and briefs, prepare written discovery, present oral reports on shorter research assignments, and attend planning sessions with client agency counsel and technical experts. Clerks may also attend or assist with site visits, witness interviews, depositions, settlement conferences, and hearings taking place in Sacramento, Fresno, Oakland, or San Francisco.


Student applicants must (1) hold full or dual United States citizenship, to be identified in the cover letter; (2) have resided within the United States for three of the past five years, unless military/diplomatic service was involved; (3) be in good standing at their law school, with a strong interest in gaining practical experience in environmental law; (4) complete a minimum of two semesters of law school, with successful completion of at least one introductory environmental law course; and (5) work full-time in the summer over a period of 10 weeks, or a minimum of 16 hours per week during the fall or spring semesters over a period of 14 weeks. First-year law students, who have not completed their first semester, may only apply after December 1.

Strictly voluntary, uncompensated. We are, however, happy to work with law schools for students seeking academic credit for their internship.
Application Process: 

Email cover letter, which MUST identify the applicant’s country or countries of citizenship, resume, unofficial transcript, and a recent legal writing sample (max. 12 pp.); consolidate these documents in to single, unlocked .pdf file to Machaela Melrose at machaela.melrose@usdoj.gov.


The Sacramento Field Office is currently accepting applications for 2018 spring law clerk positions through November 30, 2018.

Hiring is made on a rolling basis. Therefore, please identify the term(s) to which you are applying on your cover letter.

Number of Positions: 
Two positions per semester/quarter or summer session.
Updated November 6, 2017

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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 color, race, religion, national origin, political affiliation, marital status, disability (physical or mental), age, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, genetic information, status as a parent, membership or non-membership in an employee organization, on the basis of personal favoritism, or any other non-merit 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.

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 targeted/severe disabilities are encouraged to register for the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) Shared List of People with Disabilities (the Bender Disability Employment Registry) by submitting their resume to resume@benderconsult.com and referencing "Federal Career Opportunities" in the subject line.  Additional information about the Bender Registry is available at www.benderconsult.com.  Individuals with disabilities may also contact one of the Department’s Disability Points of Contact (DPOC).  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 who have lived outside the United States for two or more of the past five years will likely have difficulty being approved for appointments by the Department Security Staff. The two-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.

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 his  or her retirement was due to a permanent service-connected disability or that he/she was transferred to the permanent disability retired list (the statement or retirement orders must indicate that the disability is 10% or more).


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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.