We accept and consider applications on a rolling basis throughout the year for internships and externships.

The International Section of the NOAA Office of General Counsel provides year-round internship and externship opportunities for law school students and internship opportunities for law school graduates. In the past, interns and externs have engaged in research and writing and attended interagency working group meetings at the U.S. Departments of the Interior, State, Defense, Homeland Security, Transportation, and Commerce as well as at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative. The International Section strives to ensure that each intern and extern has an opportunity to complete a minimum of one substantial writing assignment. The ideal candidate will have a strong research and writing background as well as a demonstrated interest in or experience with international environmental law, oceans law and the Law of the Sea.

Internship Application Process

  1. How can I apply for an internship or externship with your office? Submit cover letter, resume, official or unofficial transcript, references and a writing sample. You may submit more than one writing sample; however one of the writing samples must be no more than five (5) pages in length.  We accept applications on a rolling basis throughout the year.  While there are no deadlines, we encourage you to submit your application as far in advance as possible of the time you would like to work in the office due to the competitive nature of the process. Please send all requested materials by email to Richard Mannix with a copy to the office email account.
  2. Is there any additional information I should provide? Your cover letter should indicate prominently the time frame of proposed tenure and explain clearly your interest in NOAA GC International Section, international environmental law, oceans law, and/or the Law of the Sea.
  3. How will I know if my application is being considered? All applications are reviewed.  Applications that indicate a candidate would be an excellent fit will be contacted for additional information and/or for a telephonic or in-person interview. The office is not always able to respond to every application.
  4. Will any interviewing expenses be paid? No funds are available to reimburse applicants for any expenses associated with interviewing.

Offer/Acceptance Process

How am I notified if I am selected?  If you are selected for an internship or externship, you will receive an offer by email from the Chief of the International Section or one of the attorneys in the Section.  If you accept the offer, you must complete and submit the following forms:

These forms must be filled out online, scanned, and submitted by email to Peter Oppenheimer at least thirty (30) calendar days in advance of the proposed start date.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Is this a paid opportunity? No, the office only offers unpaid internships and externships.
  2. How many interns and externs do you normally have at one time? One to three per semester (spring, summer, and fall).
  3. How competitive is the application process? We receive the greatest number of applications for summer positions.  Comparatively fewer applications are received for spring and fall positions 
  4. What are the duration and weekly work requirements? During the spring and fall semesters, we ask for a 20 hour/week commitment for a minimum 10 week period.  During the summer, we ask for a 40 hour/week commitment for a minimum 10 week period.  Exceptions may be made on a case-by-case basis.
  5. What is the difference between a law student internship, a law student externship and a law graduate internship?  Although the terms “internship” and “externship” are often used interchangeably in the context of law students, we use the term "internship" to describe an unpaid, part-time work opportunity of generally 20 hours/week in which students gain experience in our office while continuing to take classes.  Interns may or may not receive credit from their school.  We use the term "externship" to describe an arrangement in which those students who are receiving academic credit for their unpaid their work and therefore must meet a number of requirements imposed by the ABA and their law school (generally 32-40 hours per week).  We use the phrase “law graduate internship” to describe a law school graduate working with us full-time on a volunteer basis.
  6. My law school features a semester-long “externship” program, which allows me to work on a full-time basis for credit. Can the NOAA GC International Section accommodate me? Yes. Our office prefers semester-long “externs.” 
  7. May an intern or extern work remotely?  In almost all cases, work is done at our office in the main Department of Commerce building, 14th St. and Constitution Ave., N.W., Washington, D.C.  Occasionally, an intern or extern may work for part or all of their tenure in Silver Spring, MD where NOAA is headquartered.  There will also be instances where an intern or extern will be out of the office researching and writing at the Commerce Department research library or similar institution in the D.C. metro area.
  8. May positions be extended beyond the time frame initially agreed? Possibly, if work and other circumstances warrant an extension.  A small number of interns and externs have been accepted for a second student internship or law graduate fellowship.   
  9. May first year law students apply for a position? Yes.
  10. Could an internship, externship, or fellowship lead to a paid position? Hiring of full-time or paid term attorneys by NOAA depends on several factors, including vacancies, qualifications (including admission to a state bar) and the availability of funds.  Qualified interns and externs may be considered should an attorney-advisor position become available.  (All such openings are publicized on
  11. May I receive credit for the position? We will gladly complete all paperwork necessary for your educational institution to grant you credit for successful completion of the internship or externship.  Based on the success in the past, a favorable consideration may be given to applicants that would obtain class credit, stipend or other support from their educational institution in furtherance of the development of experience in international marine environmental law.  
  12. Is a security clearance required? Yes, before you can receive a badge (which is a prerequisite for all positions and required for access to federal government facilities), you must have received a security clearance from the Department of Commerce Office of Security. In filling out the required forms described above, you will be required to answer questions, including with respect to any past unlawful activity which is a matter of record or for which you were fined or penalized. Any affirmative answers will have to be explained to the satisfaction of the Department of Commerce Office of Security, and that Office will determine whether you are eligible for the required security clearance.
  13. Is U.S. citizenship a requirement for a position? Generally speaking, all interns and externs must be U.S. citizens. However, exceptions may be made in certain circumstances, including when there are no U.S. citizens available to do the work or project. Non-citizens must complete additional paperwork and undergo additional screening before being cleared to assume a position with NOAA.
  14. Must applicants be law school students or law school graduates? Although the vast majority of our applicants are law school students or law school graduates, we have offered internships and externships to exceptionally well-qualified college students and graduate school students.  

Department of Commerce/NOAA Resources

NOAA’s Office of Education web site has additional information on other student opportunities available throughout NOAA.
The Department of Commerce (of which NOAA is a part) has a Legal Internship Recruitment web page. Additional career opportunity resources within the Department of Commerce include the job career and student career opportunities websites.

Additional Resources

Executive Order 13562 (Dec. 27, 2010) – Recruiting and Hiring Students and Recent Graduates
USA Jobs for Students and Recent Graduates
Law Jobs & Opportunities Blog (use at your own risk; we do not endorse this blog or vouch for any information contained therein)



Consistent with Department of Commerce Administrative Order (DAO) 216-3, the Office of General Counsel upholds the Department’s policy on equal opportunity recruiting and works to generate diverse applicant pools consistent with race, national origin, and gender percentages in the civilian labor force.