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Legal Careers

Volunteer Legal Intern - Academic Year/Summer - Criminal/Civil Divisions

Hiring Organization
USAO Northern District of California
Hiring Office
Criminal/Civil Division - San Francisco, Oakland, San Jose
CA - United States
About the Office

The Criminal Division of the United States Attorney's Office for the Northern District prosecutes all federal crimes from Monterey to the Oregon border, including economic, cyber security, narcotics, violent corruption, child exploitation, immigration, and other federal crimes. The Civil Division represents the United States and its departments and agencies in civil proceedings filed in federal court. Approximately 130 AUSAs work across these two divisions in one of three offices: San Francisco, San Jose, or Oakland. 

Internship Locations: Volunteer Legal Interns can apply to the U.S. Attorney's Office's: (i) Criminal Division - San Francisco; (ii) Civil Division - San Francisco; (iii) Criminal Division - Oakland Branch Office; (iv) Civil Division - Oakland Branch Office; (v) Criminal Division - San Jose Branch Office; or (vi) Civil Division - San Jose Branch Office. Applicants can express interest in multiple divisions/offices but will be assigned to one. A single application should be sent to the Office's internship e-mail inbox indicating the applicant's preferences in the cover letter and subject line of the e-mail. The program is in-person and interns are required to be in the office. Remote work is not available. 

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

Assignments may include assisting attorneys with legal research, writing pleadings, trial preparation, and completing appellate briefs. 

Within the Criminal Division, interns are encouraged to observe pretrial proceedings, trials, and other court proceedings, in cases on which they have worked or in cases of general interest in the office. 

Within the Civil Division, interns are encouraged to observe hearings, pretrial proceedings, trials, and appellate oral arguments, and other court proceedings; to attend meetings with client agencies and to attend settlement conferences, mediations, depositions, site visits, and witness interviews. 

Minimum Hours: (School-year) 16 hours per weeks required across 10 weeks per semester or 8 weeks per quarter.

(Summer) 40 hours per week across 10 weeks. 


Volunteer Legal Interns must have completed one year of an ABA accredited law school before beginning the internships. During school-year terms, Volunteer Legal Interns must be enrolled in an accredited law school at least half-time. Volunteer Legal Interns must complete a background check before beginning employment. Law school graduation terminates eligibility for volunteer positions except for graduate law students who are enrolled at least half-time and not practicing law. Must be a U.S. Citizen. 

Application Process

Law students wishing to apply for an internship should submit a resume, cover letter, current law school transcript, and writing sample to the division(s)/branch(es) of their choice. If applying to more than one division/office, please indicate preference. Applicants must email their applications to and indicate in the subject line their division(s)/office(s) preference (e.g. "SF-Crim"; "Oak-Crim"; "SJ-Civ"; "SJ-Crim") and when they would like to serve as an intern (e.g., "Application for Summer 2024"). 

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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 June 13, 2024