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Homeland Security

Office of the General Counsel's Law Student Summer Volunteer Program

Ready to make an impact?  Click here to get startedThe Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of the General Counsel (OGC) is seeking applicants for the General Counsel's Law Student Summer Volunteer Program.

The General Counsel is the chief legal officer for DHS and oversees more than 1,800 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. OGC attorneys work on a broad range of subject matter, including national security law, immigration law, litigation, international law, intellectual property, maritime safety and security, transportation security, border security, cybersecurity, fiscal and appropriations law, federal procurement, and environmental law. OGC also coordinates DHS’s rulemaking process, manages interdepartmental clearance of proposed legislation, and provides legal training for law enforcement officers.

About Our Summer Law Volunteers

The General Counsel's Law Student Summer Volunteer Program provides law students the opportunity to work at DHS in unpaid, volunteer positions in the General Counsel's Office at DHS Headquarters in Washington, D.C. Summer Law Volunteers work on assignments that offer both valuable experience and substantial individual responsibility. For example, Summer Law Volunteers may interact directly with agency clients, attend legislative hearings, and meet with attorneys and representatives from other agencies over the course of the summer. Summer Law Volunteers may also have the opportunity to visit one or more DHS operational sites in the Washington, D.C. area. 

Summer Law Volunteers are assigned to work in one of the following divisions at OGC Headquarters:

  • Ethics Law Division
  • General Law Division
  • Immigration Law Division
  • Legal Counsel Division
  • Management Division
  • National Protection and Programs Law Division
  • Operations and Enforcement Law Division
  • Regulatory Affairs Law Division
  • Technology Programs Law Division

Applicant preferences will be considered when determining Summer Law Volunteer Division assignments, but assignments will be primarily based on resource needs. Successful candidates are selected to work on a term appointment of at least 8 to 10 weeks starting in May or June and not to exceed September 1, 2015. Please note, however, that in limited circumstances Summer Law Volunteers may stay through the fall as part of the OGC Law Student Volunteer Program, subject to the discretion of OGC. Summer Law Volunteers may receive school credit for their work at DHS but are responsible for obtaining the necessary paperwork and fulfilling school requirements to receive credit.


Only U.S. citizens are eligible for employment in OGC's Law Student Summer Volunteer Program. Prior to participating in the program, the applicant will be required to undergo a suitability determination conducted by the DHS Security Office.

The Law Student Summer Volunteer Program is open to second-year law students, as well as third-year law students in four-year programs at accredited schools. 1Ls may also apply starting on December 1. Hiring of 1Ls is dependent on available vacancies.

OGC selects candidates based on multiple factors including:

  • Demonstrated high academic achievement (GPA of 3.5 or higher or top 1/3 of the class preferred)1
  • Exceptional research, writing and analytical skills; and
  • Demonstrated involvement in activities beyond required coursework is encouraged.

Application Process and Deadlines

OGC will accept applications from 2L and 3L candidates for the 2016 Law Student Summer Volunteer Program from August 15, 2015 until September 30, 2015. Interested 1Ls may submit applications starting on December 1, 2015 until December 15, 2015. Hiring of 1Ls is dependent on available vacancies.

Candidates are asked to submit a cover letter, resume, and law school transcript (unofficial copies will be accepted) 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] Summer Law Volunteer Application.”
  • 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. 
  • The cover letter can state the applicant's preference, if any, to be assigned to particular law divisions. Applicant preferences will be considered when determining Summer Law Volunteer assignments but assignments will be primarily based on resource needs.
  • We will only accept electronic submissions. 

Cover letters should be addressed to:

Summer Law Student Volunteer Program Manager
U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Office of the General Counsel

Writing samples and references 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 for 2016.

The OGC Selection Committee will conduct telephone interviews in November and December 2015 and will notify all successful applicants of their offer for a Summer Law Volunteer position as soon as possible following an interview. Decisions on 1L candidates will be made in late January or early February. Applicants who are not selected for the program will receive an email notification.

The United States Government does not discriminate in employment on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, political affiliation, sexual orientation, marital status, disability, age, membership in an employee organization, or other non-merit factor.


1 We understand that not all law schools follow a standard GPA or class ranking and ask that candidates applying from such schools submit a grading or ranking explanation from the school.

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