Government Civil Litigation Externship - Southern District of New York

Formerly called the Government Civil Litigation Clinic - Southern District of New York

Important Information about this Course Offering:

Because of a policy change at the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the clinical program probably will not be able to offer this clinic in the same form in which it was offered in prior years. The Law School is currently working with the U.S. Attorney’s Office to develop a new programmatic structure that satisfies the Office’s new rule.

It appears very likely that the Law School will be able to offer fieldwork placements for credit at the U.S. Attorney’s Office next year, which would be accompanied by a seminar taught by an Assistant U.S. Attorney (AUSA). The resulting structure will probably be roughly equivalent to the fieldwork and seminar components of the clinics we offered at these offices in the past.

Given the likelihood that the new structure will roughly approximate what we have offered in the past, set out below is a description of the fieldwork and seminar components of the clinic that was offered in prior years. Because the new structure probably will be called an externship and accompanying seminar rather than a clinic, the offering is listed in the clinic application form as an “externship” rather than a “clinic.”

Interested students should immediately submit an application, transcript, resume and writing sample (of no more than ten pages) via CAMS, the online application system. Students selected for the program will be required to undergo a routine security clearance check by the F.B.I. that is required of lawyers, non-legal staff and interns working in all U.S. Attorney's Offices. Students are advised that they must be United States citizens to be eligible for the Government Civil Litigation Clinic and that dual citizenship or residence outside of the United States for a significant period of time may complicate the security clearance process. Further, it is critical that updated contact information be provided to ensure that the required paperwork is sent to you at the correct address. This paperwork must be completed and returned as soon as possible so that the security clearance may be completed in time for the student to commence clinic work. In addition, because the U.S. Attorney's Office is involved in litigation against many private law offices, legal services offices and other state or municipal law firms, students may not work part-time in such an office and participate in this Clinic. For a complete list of eligibility requirements, visit the SDNY website and scroll down to "Externships During the School Year."

Further information will be posted on this web page as it becomes available. Questions can be directed to Randy Hertz, Vice Dean and Director of Clinical and Advocacy Programs, via email.

Description of the Former Clinic

Conducted with the cooperation of the Civil Division of the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York

LW.10679 / LW.11210
Professor David J. Kennedy
Open to 3L and 2L students
Maximum of 10 students
Fall and Spring semesters
5 credits
No prerequisites or co-requisites.

Course Description

Up to ten students will be selected to participate in the Government Civil Litigation Clinic - SDNY, in the Office of the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York in Manhattan, recognized nationally as one of the finest law offices, public or private, in the country.

As described below, the clinic includes fieldwork and a two-hour seminar. Students are required to work twelve to fifteen hours each week in the United States Attorney's Office. The seminar meets one evening a week at the United States Attorney's Office at 86 Chambers Street.

Work of the Civil Division

The work of the Civil Division offers perhaps the most challenging and diverse civil caseload of any law office, public or private, in the United States. An Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Civil Division represents the interests of the United States and its agencies at trial and on appeal in affirmative and defensive civil litigation in the Southern District of New York. On the affirmative side, Civil Division Assistants not only investigate and prosecute health care fraud, mortgage fraud, and labor racketeering cases, but also enforce the federal civil rights laws, environmental laws, and tax laws. On the defensive side, Civil Division Assistants represent such federal agency clients as the CIA, the FBI, the Department of Defense, and the Department of the Treasury, often in cases that implicate the national security of the United States, raise complex issues of first impression, and involve challenges to the constitutionality of federal statutes and regulations. Civil Assistants run their cases from investigation through conclusion, handling all court appearances from initial conference, through trial, and on appeal to the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, performing legal work that rivals that found in the nation's premier law offices. The Civil Division generally does not require Assistants to specialize, thus providing a civil practice that is extraordinary in its scope. Assistants in the Civil Division are afforded the unique opportunity to represent the United States of America in some of the most important and difficult matters, affirmative and defensive, that our legal system has to offer.


Each student will be assigned to work with two Assistant United States Attorneys (AUSAs). This arrangement permits continuity of assignments and familiarity with the cases of the AUSAs. Diversity of assignments by AUSAs is encouraged, and will include not only traditional legal research, but also legal drafting, participation in pre-trial discovery proceedings and trial preparation. Students will attend depositions, court proceedings, settlement negotiations, trials, and appellate arguments.

The Seminar

Participants meet weekly for a two-hour evening seminar conducted at the United States Attorney's Office. Through legal drafting assignments, in-class simulations, and class discussion, participants study the substantive, stylistic and tactical considerations in the conduct of litigation as a mechanism for dispute resolution. The seminar will also focus on the unique ethical issues that confront government lawyers in civil cases.