Externship on the Federal Government: Semester in Washington, D.C.

Spend a semester in Washington DC with the Externship on the Federal Government in Washington, DC (the “DC Externship”). DC externs earn academic credit while working full-time under the supervision of an attorney within the federal government or within a DC-based non-profit that has a substantial nexus with the federal government. Students have worked in the White House, Department of Justice, Department of State, Department of Education, Department of Labor, Federal Trade Commission, Federal Communications Commission, Patent and Trademark Office, the Senate Judiciary Committee, NPR, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, and Earthjustice. 

In addition to working full time, DC Externs engage in a weekly seminar featuring off the record conversations with attorneys who work in the White House, on Capitol Hill, at agencies, non-profits, and in government relation offices at Fortune 500 companies. Students also take an ethics course and engage in several reflection sessions. 

Available in: Fall 2024 and Spring 2025


Fall semester: Open to enrolled and transfer 3L J.D. candidates. 

Spring semester: Open to enrolled and transfer 2L and 3L J.D. candidates. 

Students may apply to both semesters. The deadline to apply for the Fall 2024 semester is extended to April 5 at 5:00 p.m. Applications after this deadline will be considered on a case-by-case basis. Up to 15 students will be selected. 

To apply, students should submit their resume, statement explaining why they want to participate in the DC Externship, a list of possible placements, and their transcript. The document should be a single PDF. To submit the application, email the program coordinators, Natasha Harnwell-Davis ([email protected]) and Ejaz Baluch ([email protected]) a single PDF. 


Natasha Harnwell-Davis will counsel students on placements. NOTE that applications to placements are separate from the application to the externship. Students are responsible for applying directly to placements, some of which have deadlines before or after the externship deadline. Please apply to the externship before applying to placements.

The placement must be located within easy driving distance of Washington, DC, and students must work in-person. Work at non-profits must have a substantial nexus with the federal government such as litigating against the federal government, responding to requests for notice or comment on federal regulations, or preparing to testify before Congress. Some, but not all, placements require an applicant to be a U.S. citizen and complete a background check. Placements should be unique to Washington, D.C. For that reason, judicial externships and placements at the DC USAO office are discouraged.

Mandatory Components 

Students have four core components for a total of 13 credits. (1) Intensive Seminar on Ethics in the Federal Government (2 graded academic credits). (2) Weekly Evening Seminar on Federal Government Lawyering (3 graded academic credits); (3) Field Placements (8 ungraded clinical credits); (4) Experiential Learning Component (ungraded).

The ethics intensive fulfills the professional responsibility requirement. 


The DC Externship starts the first day of the academic semester and students should anticipate having obligations through reading period. The ethics intensive typically starts the first week of the academic year. Placements typically start the second week of the academic calendar. The seminar typically takes place once a week in the evenings but students will also attend several field trips during the work day, which are excused absences from their placement.

Please read the linked PDF for additional information.

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