One benefit to pursuing a career in the legal field is that the opportunities are limitless—private practice, in-house, academia, nonprofit legal work, prosecution, government—and the list goes on. One area that should not be overlooked is he federal government—interning with the federal government is a great way for law students to develop their legal skills while exploring different areas of the government. If you are interested in interning with the federal government but do not know where to start, this article will help you start the process.
Narrow Down Interests.
The first step to interning with the government should be determining your field of interest. Recognizing your interests will help narrow the internship opportunities down. It is worth noting that it is important to look at the description of the office, not the agency, when determining where to apply. There are 15 executive departments, but within these departments are dozens of agencies, sub-agencies, and offices. Don’t dismiss an agency just because of its name—you may be surprised how many agencies actually appeal to your professional interests once you take time to research. For example, if you are interested in immigration law, you may assume that you will only find immigration-related work with the Department of Homeland Security. But the other agencies, including the Department of Defense and the Department of Labor, have offices that deal with immigration-related issues.
How do you apply for an internship with the federal government? While it seems like an obvious choice to use sites like LinkedIn, you will need to apply on USAJOBS.gov. Even though the agencies may post internships on other sites, they only accept applications through USAJOBS.gov.
Once you have created a USAJobs.gov account, you can start looking for internships! It is helpful to use filters to narrow down opportunities. Be sure to thoroughly read the job description. Document requirements vary among agencies, and some agencies will ask you to email your application directly.
When do you need to apply for an internship? It depends—agency deadlines vary. It is important to plan in advance to ensure that you do not miss any opportunities.
Pro Tip: Consider reaching out to a local college about staying there if you do not live in the area. Most colleges rent out their dorm rooms and apartments to interns in the summer.
Look into Pathways.
The U.S. Office of Personnel Management has created a program called Pathways, which is worth looking into if you want to intern with the government or want to pursue a career with the federal government after graduation. Pathways is a federal government program that offers students and recent graduates a path to internships, training, and career development opportunities. There are three main components to Pathways: the Internship Program, the Recent Graduates Program, and the Presidential Management Fellowship. If you are a first-year or second-year law student, the Pathways Internship Program will provide you with opportunities to explore federal careers. (Bonus: you will get paid!) The Recent Graduates Program is a program that offers career development, with training and mentorship for those who have graduated within the past two years. The Presidential Management Fellows (PMF) Program is for recent graduates with an advanced degree, including a J.D. PMF is a two-year appointment that will allow participants to work at a single federal agency or participate in a rotational opportunity at another agency.
Consider Capitol Hill.
An alternative to interning with an agency is working on Capitol Hill. To find an internship, contact your state’s Senator or Representative. Send an email to the appropriate contact with your resume and a cover letter that describes how interning in their office will help further your career goals. Congressional members prefer to have their constituents be their interns, so they will welcome your email!
Pro Tip: If you want to intern with the House of Representatives, you can subscribe to the weekly House Employment Bulletin to receive information on openings in offices and on committees. If you prefer the Senate, keep an eye on the Internship Opportunities Bulletin.
What happens if you do not get a federal internship this year but want to try again next year? Network! Attend ABA events or reach out to people on LinkedIn. If you network with people in the office you desire, they will be able to help you with your application next year.
Women’s History Month is a time to reflect on and celebrate the achievements of women throughout American history, and it is also a time to consider where progress is yet to be made before women are on truly equal footing. When it comes to the legal profession, the historically male-dominated industry has made significant strides; for example, women have comprised the majority of new law students for the past several years.
Judicial clerkships have long been considered an excellent way for law school graduates and new lawyers to expand their legal training and glean valuable insight into the litigation process. It isn’t always easy to get the scoop on why clerking is beneficial, though, or how to apply for and obtain a prized judicial clerkship.
Interviews are naturally stressful because you can’t predict exactly which questions will be asked, but prepping for common interview questions will help you ease some stress. Whether you’re getting ready for an entry-level or lateral interview, OCI, or a callback, preparing in advance will give you time to think of specific examples and ways to tie your experiences to the specific role and firm/organization.
As we reviewed earlier, many attorneys are behind technologically and reticent to adopt new tech tools, despite (1) ABA recommendations to stay abreast of relevant technology, (2) sophisticated clients who expect tech proficiency in their attorneys, and (3) competitors like alternative legal service providers (ALSPs) using technology to provide legal support work at lower costs. The bottom line is that law firms and lawyers need to keep current with technology because being deficient means losing business—or going out of business.
We recently spoke a bit about how AI programs such as ChatGPT and DALLE-2 are affecting the creative industry, along with some possible future scenarios. With the use of such AI programs on the rise, we must also ask ourselves how they will affect students, teachers, and academia as a whole.