HLDC students will have the opportunity to work as unpaid legal externs at an approved congressional committee, federal government agency, nonprofit organization or public interest group and will gain exposure to the legislative process, rule-making, review and analysis of government statutes or rules, or law reform efforts. Although HLDC students will be responsible for securing their own field placements, the HLDC program director will work closely with each student to help the student identify appropriate placements based on the student’s professional interests and experience. HLDC will maintain a list of possible field placements to choose from, but students may also identify new field placements to explore. Some organizations and government agencies have well-established programs for law students, and others do not. Students are encouraged to fully investigate all possible placements.
Before a student accepts any placement offer, the placement and the placement supervisor must be approved by the HLDC program director or Senior Associate Dean for Experiential Education Jennifer Gundlach. To be approved, the placement must involve direct supervision by a licensed attorney, provide opportunities for the student to gain exposure to governmental law or policy — legislative, executive, regulatory or advocacy — and include a commitment by the placement supervisor to ensure that the student receives an educational experience consistent with HLDC’s goals and objectives. Only congressional, governmental, and nonprofit or public interest organizations will be approved as field placements. All field placement supervisors will be required to certify that they understand and will abide by the requirements of HLDC.
Students should also be mindful that some government agencies, such as the U.S. Department of State, the Securities and Exchange Commission, the U.S. Department of Justice, the White House and selected Congressional offices, have application deadlines for law students. In addition, given the nature of some government hiring, as well as the time it may take for the government to complete a background investigation (or for a student to obtain a security clearance if one is required), some placements may not be finalized until after a student is required to commit to the program. While every effort will be made to place students in their area of interest, the decision to participate in HLDC may have to be made by a student before his or her placement is confirmed or approved. Students will be responsible, however, for ensuring that they meet all the deadlines that are imposed by their placements, including in regard to information and materials that may be required for background investigations or security clearances.
Finally, it should be noted that some government agencies may limit eligibility for volunteer positions, including externships, to U.S. citizens. Other background issues, such as drug use or serious credit problems, may affect a student’s ability to obtain a security clearance if one is required for the placement.
Below are some additional resources concerning, internships, fellowships and other work experiences in the federal government: