The United States Department of Justice

About the Office:

The Environment and Natural Resources Division (“ENRD”) is the Nation’s environmental lawyer and the largest environmental law firm in the world.  It is responsible for litigation at the frontiers of the law, ranging from protection of endangered species, to global climate change, to cleaning up the nation’s hazardous waste sites.  Over one‑half of ENRD’s lawyers are involved in enforcing the nation’s civil and criminal environmental laws in order to protect the health and environment of citizens of the United States.  ENRD also defends environmental challenges to government programs and activities.  It represents the U.S. in all matters concerning the protection, use and development of the nation’s natural resources and public lands, wildlife protection, Native American rights and claims, and the acquisition of Federal property.  Many of these cases are precedent‑setting.

The Sacramento Field Office (“SFO”) is comprised of attorneys representing one of ENRD’s nine litigating sections: the Natural Resources Section (NRS).


Our office places a high value on diversity of experiences and perspectives and encourages applications from all qualified individuals from all ethnic and racial backgrounds, veterans, LGBT individuals, and persons with disabilities.
Job Description:

NRS Mission

The Natural Resources Section is responsible for a diverse and extensive docket of primarily defensive litigation involving more than eighty statutes, treaties and the U.S. Constitution. The Section’s responsibilities include cases in virtually every U.S. district court of the Nation, its territories and possessions, the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, and in state courts.

The subject matter involves federal land, resource, and ecosystem management decisions challenged under a wide variety of federal environmental statutes and affecting more than a half-billion acres of lands managed by the Department of Interiors and Agriculture (totaling nearly one-quarter of the entire land mass of the United States) and an additional 300 million acres of subsurface mineral interests; vital national security programs involving military preparedness and border protection, nuclear materials management, and weapons system research; billions of dollars in constitutional claims of Fifth Amendment takings covering a broad spectrum of Federal activities affecting private property; challenges brought by individual Native Americans and Indian tribes relating to the United States’ trust responsibility; a panoply of cultural resource matters including cases related to historic buildings, repatriation of ancient human remains and salvage of shipwrecks; preserving federal water rights and prosecuting water rights adjudications; ensuring proper mineral royalty payments to the Treasury; and litigation involving offshore boundary disputes, interstate water compacts and other issues in Supreme Court original actions in coordination with the Office of the Solicitor General.


The Environment and Natural Resources Division ‘s Sacramento Field Office is seeking law students with a strong interest in gaining practical experience in environmental law and litigation. Law clerks are called upon to conduct legal research on a variety of issues ranging from environmental law to federal practice and procedure, evidence, corporate structure and liability, and bankruptcy.  In planning assignments, our attorneys make every effort to provide each student with challenging work in as many areas of our practice as possible.  Clerks typically research and draft legal memoranda and briefs, prepare written discovery, present oral reports on shorter research assignments, and attend planning sessions with client agency counsel and technical experts.  Clerks may also attend or assist with site visits, witness interviews, depositions, and hearings taking place in or near San Francisco or Sacramento.

Each law clerk is assigned a mentor who serves as a resource for general information, guidance, and for monitoring the clerk’s projects to assure that the clerk receives as much variety as possible given the office’s case load.  The mentor, along with others in the office, also ensures that the clerk obtains a meaningful experience in real world legal activities by attending outside activities.  We work closely with our law clerks to see that they are not overwhelmed and are able to complete assignments in a timely manner.

The mentor, along with others in the office, also ensures that the clerk obtains a meaningful experience in real world legal activities by attending outside activities.  We work closely with our law clerks to see that they are not overwhelmed and are able to complete assignments in a timely manner.

Application Process:

Student must: 1) hold full or dual United States citizenship, to be identified in the cover letter*; 2) reside within the United States for three of the past five years, unless military/diplomatic service was involved; 3) be in good standing, with a strong interest in gaining practical experience in environmental law; 4) complete a minimum of two semesters of law school, with successful completion of at least one introductory environmental law course; and 5) work full‑time in the summer over a period of 10 weeks, or a minimum of 16 hours per week during the fall or spring semesters over a period of 14 weeks.

First-year law students, who have not completed their first semester, may only apply after December 1.  Hiring is made on a rolling basis, therefore, please identify the term(s) to which you are applying in your cover letter*.

The Sacramento field office typically hires one law clerk each semester and two law clerks during the summer session. Law clerk positions in the SFFO are strictly voluntary.  However, working at the Department of Justice is considered practice in the “public interest,” which may qualify some students for grant, scholarship, or fellowship assistance.  In addition, we have and will continue to work closely with programs the law schools have established.  Many schools provide work study, stipend programs, clinical, and/or academic credit.

Applications are being accepted for summer or fall 2019, and spring 2020.

Application Deadlines:

Fall 2020 – May 15, 2020

Spring 2021 – August 31, 2021


Use the following text for Stanford Law School or other quarter academic calendar.

Please be able to work full‑time in the summer for a minimum of 10 weeks, or 16 hours per week for 8 weeks or as required to earn course credit during any academic quarter.

Kindly email cover letter to include citizenship information and semester applied for; resume; unofficial transcript and; recent legal writing sample (max. 12 pgs), in that same order as a single/consolidated pdf file to Hannah Pheasant at [email protected].

Application Deadline:
Friday, May 15, 2020
Number of Positions:
Updated May 4, 2020

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Department Policies

Equal Employment Opportunity:  The U.S. Department of Justice is an Equal Opportunity/Reasonable Accommodation Employer.  Except where otherwise provided by law, there will be no discrimination because of color, race, religion, national origin, political affiliation, marital status, disability (physical or mental), age, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, protected genetic information, pregnancy, status as a parent, or any other nonmerit-based factor.  The Department of Justice welcomes and encourages applications from persons with physical and mental disabilities. The Department is firmly committed to satisfying its affirmative obligations under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, to ensure that persons with disabilities have every opportunity to be hired and advanced on the basis of merit within the Department of Justice. For more information, please review our full EEO Statement.

Reasonable Accommodations:  This agency provides reasonable accommodation to applicants with disabilities where appropriate. If you need a reasonable accommodation for any part of the application and hiring process, please notify the agency.  Determinations on requests for reasonable accommodation will be made on a case-by-case basis.

Outreach and Recruitment for Qualified Applicants with Disabilities:  The Department encourages qualified applicants with disabilities, including individuals with targeted/severe disabilities to apply in response to posted vacancy announcements.  Qualified applicants with targeted/severe disabilities may be eligible for direct hire, non-competitive appointment under Schedule A (5 C.F.R. § 213.3102(u)) hiring authority.  Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to contact one of the Department’s Disability Points of Contact (DPOC) to express an interest in being considered for a position. See list of DPOCs.

Suitability and Citizenship:  It is the policy of the Department to achieve a drug-free workplace and persons selected for employment will be required to pass a drug test which screens for illegal drug use prior to final appointment.  Employment is also contingent upon the completion and satisfactory adjudication of a background investigation. Congress generally prohibits agencies from employing non-citizens within the United States, except for a few narrow exceptions as set forth in the annual Appropriations Act (see, Pursuant to DOJ component policies, only U.S. citizens are eligible for employment with the Executive Office for Immigration Review, U.S. Trustee’s Offices, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Unless otherwise indicated in a particular job advertisement, qualifying non-U.S. citizens meeting immigration and appropriations law criteria may apply for employment with other DOJ organizations. However, please be advised that the appointment of non-U.S. citizens is extremely rare; such appointments would be possible only if necessary to accomplish the Department’s mission and would be subject to strict security requirements. Applicants who hold dual citizenship in the U.S. and another country will be considered on a case-by-case basis. All DOJ employees are subject to a residency requirement. Candidates must have lived in the United States for at least three of the past five years. The three-year period is cumulative, not necessarily consecutive. Federal or military employees, or dependents of federal or military employees serving overseas, are excepted from this requirement. This is a Department security requirement which is waived only for extreme circumstances and handled on a case-by-case basis.

Veterans:  There is no formal rating system for applying veterans’ preference to attorney appointments in the excepted service; however, the Department of Justice considers veterans’ preference eligibility as a positive factor in attorney hiring. Applicants eligible for veterans’ preference must include that information in their cover letter or resume and attach supporting documentation (e.g., the DD 214, Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty and other supporting documentation) to their submissions. Although the “point” system is not used, per se, applicants eligible to claim 10-point preference must submit Standard Form (SF) 15, Application for 10-Point Veteran Preference, and submit the supporting documentation required for the specific type of preference claimed (visit the OPM website, for a copy of SF 15, which lists the types of 10-point preferences and the required supporting document(s). Applicants should note that SF 15 requires supporting documentation associated with service- connected disabilities or receipt of nonservice-connected disability pensions to be dated 1991 or later except in the case of service members submitting official statements or retirement orders from a branch of the Armed Forces showing that his  or her retirement was due to a permanent service-connected disability or that he/she was transferred to the permanent disability retired list (the statement or retirement orders must indicate that the disability is 10% or more).


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This and other vacancy announcements can be found under Attorney Vacancies and Volunteer Legal Internships. The Department of Justice cannot control further dissemination and/or posting of information contained in this vacancy announcement. Such posting and/or dissemination is not an endorsement by the Department of the organization or group disseminating and/or posting the information.

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