Students who work in government or related entities in Washington, D.C. will ultimately acquire an enhanced perspective and more sophisticated view of the role of government in law and society. Under the program, students work under supervision of an on-site attorney, for a government, public interest agency, non-profit trade association, think tank, corporation, or with a judge; students will also be enrolled in a program of graded coursework.
In addition to practical legal training, the program allows students to cement new professional contacts and enhance their professional profile. Students who have participated in the program have most recently worked at:
- Securities & Exchange Commission
- Department of Interior
- Environmental Protection Agency
- House Subcommittee on Education and Labor
- Department of State
- Department of Justice
- Department of Health and Human Services
- Center for Constitutional Rights
- DC Attorney General - Office of Solicitor General
- American Gas Association
- Nutritional Products Association
Under the supervision of an on-site attorney, students work in a semester-long externship in D.C. for a government or public interest agency, non-profit trade association, think-tank or with a judge. They earn seven pass-fail units for their externship work (60 hours of work equals one unit), and can petition to have three of these units accumulate outside the school’s regular rules on pass-fail credits.
They also earn five credits in two traditional courses:
- 2-credit intensive course on administrative and legislative practice and process prior to the beginning of their externship
- 3-credit course meeting weekly on a substantive topic
Both of these classes are letter-graded and taught by a tenured professor who is also responsible for providing faculty oversight of the students’ externships.
Unique Lectures and Activities
Students attend guest lectures by prominent D.C.-based attorneys, field trips to the United State Supreme Court, and lunch and happy hours with influential and dedicated USD School of Law alumni in D.C. Students are encouraged to participate in a mentorship program with USD Law alumni. These important relationships last well after the externship experience ends.
To enroll in USD's Washington, D.C. Externship program, complete the application form. You will be contacted by the Career and Professional Development Office to help coordinate your placement.
What do students say about their semester in D.C.?
“It’s great! It’s been very busy though. I got to work on two big projects, including our recent Supreme Court case (SEC v. Gabelli) and the SEC Speaks conference. I am loving DC and I think it provides an extremely valuable experience for USD students! I would definitely hope this program is made available for future students."
Semester at the EPA
"My work is providing great exposure to the enforcement of agency regulations, and of course I am learning much more about environmental law. I also find it really beneficial that we have the opportunity to work 30-40 hours each week, as I think it allows us to really get involved in long term projects and provides greater exposure to different aspects of, and people within, the Agency. I am learning a lot and enjoying my time in the internship, and I think that has been reflected in my work product thus far.
The USD alumni group in D.C. has been great as well, and we have had the opportunity to attend a luncheon and a happy hour with some of the more recent graduates. I also met my alumni mentor for lunch yesterday, and she has been a great contact to have. Overall, I think that they have added to the experience as well, and have offered great advice for adjusting to life in D.C.
Overall, the internship has been a great experience so far, and I very much appreciate the opportunity to spend the semester in D.C."
Semester at a National Trade Association
"My externship in DC has been full of awesome opportunities and excitement. I have been offered a permanent position, or at minimum, help finding a position within the industry herein D.C. I submitted my first comment to FDA, for which I received praise from my association and our outside general counsel. My employer has been experiencing leadership changes since I arrived that have provided an excellent opportunity to take the initiative to stand out.
I stayed on in a paid position through the summer."
Semester at the U.S. Department of State
"I am so appreciative of this opportunity and USD's support. Every day here presents invaluable experience, networking opportunities, and events to attend. I am already planning how I can return in the summer."
News from USD Law Students in D.C.
Evan Allen, ‘15 (JD), spent the spring 2014 semester working at the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) as part of USD’s Washington D.C. internship program. Allen credits the program with helping him develop many important skills he will use as a young attorney. >> read more about Evan
Mary Alfred, '14 (JD), is a woman who makes things happen. At the beginning of her second semester in law school she began aggressively searching for summer work opportunities, and through a combination of smart on-line research and networking, she landed two excellent placements, one on Capitol Hill, and the other with a major corporation. >> read more about Mary
Erin Grisby, '14 (JD), spent seven months working in federal government offices in Washington, D.C. through her work with USD's Center for Public Interest Law. She jumped at the chance to extend her stay in the nation's capital through the law school’s Washington, D.C. Externship Program, securing an externship at the Department of Justice’s Environmental Enforcement Section. With the experience she gained, Grisby hopes to practice environmental and energy law in California or D.C. >> read more about Erin
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. How do I find living accommodations in D.C.?
A: The following locations offer short-term housing options for student interns in Washington, D.C.:
- International Student House of Washington, D.C.
- The Washington Intern Housing Network
- Washington Intern Student Housing (WISH)
Q. Do I need a car in D.C.?
A. Depending on where you work and live, it may be easier to take the public transportation. Washington's Metro system is one of the most efficient public transportation systems in the world.
Q. How do I buy a Metro pass?
A. Follow the insturctions online to obtain your SmarTrip Card.
Do You Have More Questions?
Questions can be directed to Assistant Dean for Career and Professional Development, Julie Caron Remer or Vice Dean, Mary Jo Wiggins. They can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.