Legal Intern Program
United States Attorney’s Office
Middle District of Tennessee
The Office of the United States Attorney for the Middle District of Tennessee represents the federal government in criminal and civil actions within 32 of 95 counties in the State of Tennessee. The Criminal Division handles a variety of case: Violent Crimes, Narcotics, Organized Crime, White Collar Crime, Online Child Exploitation, and General Crimes. Attorneys within the Civil Division represent the United States and its departments and agencies in civil proceedings filed against the United States in federal court and/or handle affirmative civil enforcement cases. Approximately 40 attorneys work in the office – approximately 75% of the attorneys work in the Criminal Division and 25% work in the Civil Division. The office is located in Nashville, Tennessee.
Description of Legal Intern Program
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Tennessee utilizes the volunteer services of law students on a year-round basis. These legal interns are unpaid volunteers who work either for the experience and/or for academic credit. The program is intended to give currently enrolled law students the opportunity to assist in the prosecution and defense of both criminal and civil cases in the District Court in the Middle District of Tennessee and the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.
Legal interns are not assigned to any particular section or division and have the opportunity to do work in both the Criminal and Civil Divisions. Interns will have an opportunity to choose from a variety of projects submitted by attorneys, and a supervising attorney will be available to the interns throughout the internships. Additionally, summer interns will have a mentoring attorney to guide them in their assignments and answer questions about the office and legal career choices.
Legal interns typically research legal issues, write memos and/or draft responses in pending cases, prepare jury instructions or other pretrial filings, and assist with appellate briefs. Legal interns also work with attorneys in responding to discovery, interviewing witnesses, assembling exhibits for trial, and negotiating settlements. Additionally, interns are encouraged to observe hearings and trials. Summer interns also have the opportunity to participate in several extracurricular activities, including tours of a local jail, a state prison, the medical examiner’s office, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, the Metropolitan Nashville Police Academy, and various federal agencies. Summer interns are encourage to participate in a ride-along program with the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department. Additional opportunities for summer interns will include talking with local judges and assistant federal public defenders, and participating in roundtable discussions with AUSAs to discuss various topics including judicial clerkships, the DOJ Honors program, public interest works, and other topics.
Summer interns are expected to work full time for a minimum of 10 weeks and preferably for the full 12 weeks. Splitting the summer is strongly discouraged but will be considered for rising third year students when compelling circumstances warrant such an exception. The summer intern program for 2021 is tentatively set for May 24, 2021, through August 13, 2021.
Legal interns who work during the semester are expected to work at least 12 hours a week for a minimum of 12 weeks (144 hours) during the school semester (early January through April in the spring, and mid-August through early December in the fall).
Submitting an Application
To submit an application, a currently enrolled law student should submit four items in PDF format to the email firstname.lastname@example.org:
- Cover letter: please include a letter separate from your email and include your law school, year in law school, and personal statement reflecting your background and reason for your interest in the program; emails will not be distributed to or considered by the hiring committee
- Resume: please limit to one page; include your email address and phone number where you can be reached during the day
- Transcript: an unofficial version is fine
- Writing sample: short (e.g. no more than 5 pages) samples reflecting writing, research, and analytic skills are preferred
Please submit each of the four PDF documents listed above as individual PDF files to the email email@example.com, identifying each file as follows: “[LastName], [FirstName] – [DocumentType]” (e.g. Doe, Jane – Cover Letter.pdf).
All applicants still interested in the summer internships should update their applications as soon as possible after receiving their most recent set of grades.
Timeline for Applications and Interviews
Applications for summer employment in 2021 should be received no later than January 22, 2021. Interviews will be conducted in person or by video conference during February and will be arranged by email. Contingent offers are expected to be extended by March 1, 2021.
Applications for students interested in working part time during the school year must be received by May 1 for work in the Fall semester and by October 1 for the Spring semester. Although we receive over 100 applications for the summer program, we sometimes have unfilled positions during the semester and encourage students to apply!
Please direct any questions to Carrie Daughtrey via email at Carrie.Daughtrey@usdoj.gov or by telephone (615-401-6583).
Applicants must be U.S. citizens. Applicants also must be enrolled in a law school at the time of work in the U.S. Attorney’s Office. We are not permitted to hire high school students, undergraduate students, or any one not enrolled in law school to work in the legal intern program; such inquiries should be directed to the Human Resources Department within the office.
Prior to beginning work as a legal intern, candidates must undergo a background check, which addresses criminal history, credit history, character issues, and recent drug usage (use within the last year or while enrolled in law school may be disqualifying). This background check takes approximately three months, which is why the deadlines for application submissions are so early. All offers are contingent on the student timely submitting their package for the background check, as well as the outcome of the background check itself.