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Please submit applications online to  Applicants may be invited to participate in a remote interview.

What to submit:

All applicants must submit a comprehensive resume, law school transcript, list of at least three professional or academic references, two letters of recommendation (which can come from listed references), and a cover letter.  Externs will be requested to provide a statement affirming that the institution permits participation in such a program.

Application deadlines:

  • For spring semester – June 1 of preceding year
  • For fall semester – January 30
  • For winter term (where applicable) – March 30

Program overview:

L typically accepts 10 to 15 qualified second-year or third-year law students as full-time or part-time “work-study externs” in each of the fall and spring semesters and in some cases during the winter term.  Externs receive no pay from the U.S. Government, and the U.S. Government defrays none of their personal expenses.  Externs may receive academic credit from their law school, at its discretion, and obtain fellowships, scholarships, or other non-­U.S. Government funding to support their externship.

This Program provides an unparalleled opportunity for intensive involvement in L’s work.  Externs generally assume the same level of responsibility as summer interns and are expected to work between 20 and 40 hours per week (the specific hours to be agreed upon prior to the commencement of the externship).  Fall and spring externs typically spend one semester with L.  Winter term externs must commit to at least six consecutive weeks.  While full-time externs are typically assigned to two offices within L, and those working fewer than 36 hours a week are usually assigned to one, externs may have the opportunity to work in several areas of L’s practice.  Any academic requirements of the sponsoring institution are considered in the selection of assignments and projects, but the student is expected to invest a considerable amount of personal time outside the office to accomplish any assignments required by his or her law school.

In general, interns and externs are expected to work on site at one or more Department of State locations in the Washington, DC area for the full duration of their internship or externship. Any exceptions to the requirement for in-person presence are rare and should be approved in advance and/or included as part of the terms of the offer.

As with interns, the participation of externs in the program is conditional upon receipt of a Secret-level security clearance.  Only U.S. citizens are considered for the program.  Academic excellence, relevant experience, professional promise, and the other factors identified for interns are important factors in the selection process.

Students are informed that all materials produced while working in L are considered U.S. Government property, and permission to use them for other purposes must be obtained from the proper authority at the Department of State.  Students are subject to all requirements relating to retention or use of classified information (whether written or not) obtained in the course of employment.

Externship Opportunities Outside Washington, D.C.

The Department of State also offers unpaid legal work-study externship opportunities at the U.S. Embassy in The Hague, Netherlands, the U.S. Mission to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, and the U.S. Mission to the United Nations in New York. For fall and spring semester externships beginning with the spring 2023 semester, law students who are interested in applying for these positions should e-mail their applications to and indicate in their application materials which location they would like to be considered for. Please submit the application materials described above in the “What to Submit” section by the deadlines indicated above.

U.S. Department of State

The Lessons of 1989: Freedom and Our Future