We accept and consider applications on a rolling basis throughout the year for internships, externships and fellowships.
The International Section of the NOAA Office of General Counsel provides year-round internship and externship opportunities for law school students and fellowship opportunities for law school graduates. In the past, interns, externs and fellows 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, extern and fellow 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
How am I notified if I am selected? If you are selected for an internship, externship, or fellowship, 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:
Frequestly Asked Questions
Is this a paid opportunity? No, the office only offers unpaid internships, externships, and fellowships.
2. How many interns, externs, and/or fellows do you normally have at one time? One to three total per semester (spring, summer, 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 an internship, an externship and a fellowship? Although the terms “internship” and “externship” are often used interchangeably, 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 those students who are receiving academic credit for their unpaid legal 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 term “fellowship” to describe a law school graduate working with us full-time on an unpaid 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, extern, or fellow 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, extern, or fellow may work for part or all of their tenure in Silver Spring, MD where NOAA is headquartered.
8. May positions be extended beyond the time frame initially agreed? Possibly, if work and other circumstances warrant an extension. A number of interns or externs in the past have been accepted for a second internship or fellowship upon graduation.
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 term attorneys by NOAA depends on several factors, including vacancies, qualifications (including admission to a state bar) and the availability of funds. Qualified interns, externs and fellows may be considered should an attorney-advisor position become available. (All such openings are publicized on USAJobs.com).
11. May I receive credit for the position? We will gladly complete all paperwork necessary for your institution to grant you credit for successful completion of the internship or externship. Based on the success in the past, a preference is given to applicants that would likely be getting class credit, stipend or other support from their law school or programs facilitating 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, externs, and fellows 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.
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 — Use at Your Own Risk.
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.