US flag signifying that this is a United States Federal Government website   Official website of the Department of Homeland Security

Homeland Security

Office of the General Counsel's Legal Externship (Volunteer) Program


Program Name
Office of the General Counsel Legal Externship (Volunteer) Program

The Legal Externship (Volunteer) Program at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of the General Counsel (OGC) is a volunteer program during the fall or spring semesters offering law students the opportunity to gain valuable professional experience and to earn academic credit while working in the headquarters Office of the General Counsel, located in Washington, D.C.

The General Counsel is the chief legal officer for DHS and oversees more than 1800 attorneys throughout the Department. OGC is responsible for ensuring that departmental activities comply with applicable legal requirements, and that the Department's efforts to secure the Nation are lawful and consistent with the civil rights and civil liberties of our citizens and residents.

Participants in the OGC Legal Externship (Volunteer) Program will work in one or more Legal Divisions in OGC headquarters.. Volunteers may also have the opportunity to visit certain DHS operational sites in the Washington, D.C. area during their participation in the program.

The Legal Divisions hiring for the 2016 Fall Externship (Volunteer) Program include:

  • General Law Division (to include the Administrative Law Section, the Labor and Employment Law Section, and the Board for Correction of Military Records Section)
  • Immigration Law Division
  • Legal Counsel Division (to include the Litigation Section, the Legislation Section, and the Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Section)
  • National Protection and Programs Law Division
  • Operations and Enforcement Law Division
  • Regulatory Affairs Law Division
  • Technology Programs Law Division (to include the Intellectual Property Law section and the Domestic Nuclear Detection Office Section)
Program Length
The anticipated length of the fall program is from August/September to December, and the anticipated length of the spring program is January to April/May. Volunteers are expected to work 16-20 hours per work-week. Applications for full-time volunteers are also accepted, and may be given preference over part-time volunteers.
Office of the General Counsel
Washington, D.C.
Eligibility Requirements
To be considered you must:
  • Be a U.S. citizen;
  • Be a rising 2L, rising 3L, or LLM student at the time of application;
  • Undergo a suitability determination by the DHS Office of the Chief Security Officer;
  • Demonstrate high academic achievement (GPA of 3.5 or higher required or top 1/3 of the class preferred);
  • Possess exceptional research, writing, and analytical skills; and
  • Demonstrate interest in homeland or national security law; this may be demonstrated through coursework that directly relates to the DHS mission or extracurricular activities; and
  • Enroll in at least one externship credit through your law schools and satisfy your law school's externship program requirements.
Application Deadline
Applications will be accepted for the fall Legal Externship (Volunteer) Program from March 1 through April 15. Applications for the spring Legal Externship (Volunteer) Program will be accepted from August 1 through September 15. Please note that in limited circumstances, fall volunteers may stay through the spring, subject to the discretion of OGC.
Application Requirements and How to Apply
Interested students must submit a cover email, resume and transcript to The following instructions must be followed in order for your application to be considered:
  • The subject line of your email must be: "[Last name first name] fall (or spring) Legal Externship (Volunteer) Program – [law division you prefer] - [Full time OR Part Time (depending on your availability]"
  • The cover letter should specify the division(s) with which you would prefer to work and why. If you would be willing to work in any law division, please include that you are open to working in any of the law divisions in your cover letter and include "Open" in the subject line of your email: "fall (or spring) Legal Externship (Volunteer) Program – Open – Full Time."
  • If you are interested in applying for more than one division, please submit a separate application for each division to which you are applying; applicants may apply to no more than three divisions.
  • The cover letter should also specify if you are available for full-time hours (32-40 hours/week) or part-time hours (16-20 hours/week).
  • The cover letter, resume, and transcript must be attached as three separate PDF attachments to your email. Documents should be titled with your last name, first name, and the document title (example: Doe John Resume, Doe John Cover Letter, Doe John Transcript). Please do not use commas in the labeling of your documents.
  • Only electronic submissions will be considered.

Cover letters should be addressed to:

Legal Externship Program Manager
U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Office of the General Counsel

Writing samples will not be accepted but may be requested later during the application process. Please do not submit any application materials until the application period opens.

Program Objectives

The program offers law students the opportunity to gain valuable professional experience and to earn academic credit while working in the headquarters DHS Office of the General Counsel, located in Washington, D.C.

Salary and Benefits

  • Law volunteers are unpaid and not entitled to benefits through the federal government as they are not federal employees.
  • Unpaid law volunteers are protected in the event of job related injuries under the Federal Torts Reform Act.
  • Relocation expenses and recruitment incentives are not paid for law volunteers.
Last Published Date: March 5, 2015
Back to Top