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Office of the General Counsel's Legal Externship Volunteer Program

Office of the General Counsel's 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 2019 Spring (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.

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.

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

OGC will accept applications for 1L, 2L and 3L candidates for the 2019 Law Student Spring Volunteer Program from July 30, 2018 through August 13, 2018.

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, Spring 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 Cover Letter, Doe John Resume, Doe John Transcript). Please do not use commas in the labeling of you documents.
  • The cover letter can state the applicant’s preference, if any, to be assigned to a particular law division. Applicant preferences will be considered when determining Spring Law Volunteer assignments but assignments will be primarily based on resource needs.
  • We will only accept electronic submissions.

Cover letters should be addressed to:

Spring Law Student Volunteer Program Manager
U.S. Department of the 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 application materials until the application period opens for Spring 2019.

The OGC Selection Committee will conduct telephone interviews in September.

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.

We understand that not all law schools follow 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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