Government Civil Litigation Externship - Eastern District of New York

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

Work of the Civil Division

The Civil Division of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York, part of the Department of Justice, is one of the leading United States Attorney’s Offices in the country. It represents the United States of America in diverse practice areas ranging from complex defensive cases on behalf of a wide array of government agencies to affirmative health care fraud, affirmative civil rights, environmental and civil and criminal forfeiture actions, among others. Other practice areas include cases against major banks for fraud in the issuance of Residential Mortgage Backed Securities, civil RICO, actions under the False Claims Act and civil penalty actions to enforce Government health and safety statutes and regulations. The defensive practice includes alleged violations of individuals’ constitutional rights, personal injury actions under the Federal Tort Claims Act, medical malpractice cases, and employment discrimination actions. The Division consists of approximately 50 experienced, talented litigators whose backgrounds include large law firm practice, government experience and judicial clerkships. The Eastern District of New York encompasses Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island in New York City and all of Long Island.

Course Description


The Government Civil Litigation Externship - EDNY is conducted in conjunction with the Civil Division of the United States Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of New York. This fieldwork externship will give students the opportunity to experience firsthand civil litigation and learn about the pros and cons of public service. The sheer diversity of the Office’s work gives students exposure to many of the legally and socially significant issues of our time.

Students will actively participate in both affirmative and defensive litigation in which the United States is a party. Each student will work under the supervision of one or two Civil Division Assistant United States Attorneys (AUSAs). The Office is committed to ensuring that students conduct a wide variety of litigation tasks, including preparing deposition outlines, drafting discovery requests, preparing complaints and answers, reviewing documents and drafting motion papers including memoranda of law.

Students also will be exposed to many aspects of litigation, attending court appearances with their attorneys, observing depositions, settlement negotiations, witness interviews as well as arbitrations, trials, and appeals. Uniquely, some students every semester are offered opportunity to argue motions in court.

Students will be required to work approximately twelve hours each week at the United States Attorney's Office in Brooklyn. The office is conveniently located in Brooklyn Heights, and is easily accessible on the A, C, F, R, 2, 3, 4, and 5 trains. This externship is separate from, but complementary to, the seminar.

The Seminar

The Government Civil Litigation - EDNY seminar is designed to expose students to the civil litigation process through the prism of federal government practice, and to help students develop practical litigation skills. The class will include discussions, exercises and sample problems designed to assist students to develop greater insight into litigation as a dispute resolution process. It is designed to maximize student participation and involvement.

The primary purpose of the seminar is for students to gain a practical understanding of the skills involved in day-to-day litigation. We will discuss legal issues arising in our cases and students will have the opportunity to develop skills required to be effective advocates through simulations where they will take depositions, draft pleadings and conduct opening statements. We will discuss the active strategic and tactical, legal, and ethical considerations that confront government attorneys in their daily practice. The class will require students to prepare a complaint, an answer, deposition outlines and an opening statement. This seminar is separate from, but complementary to, the EDNY externship.


Fieldwork is assessed on a credit/fail basis. The seminar receives a letter grade.

Note to Students Regarding Security Clearance 

Students selected for the program will be required to pass a security background check overseen by the Department of Justice’s Office of Attorney Recruitment and Management (“OARM”). A favorable determination from OARM is required before an extern may begin working in any U.S. Attorney's Office. A student must be a United States citizen to be eligible to work in the U.S. Attorney’s Office as an extern. In making its determination regarding suitability, OARM considers a number of factors, including a candidate’s tax filing and payment history, credit history, candor, and history of any usage of controlled substances. It is critical that students accepted for the externship complete the required security paperwork as soon as possible after acceptance into the externship so that the security background check can be timely obtained. A student may not commence externship work unless he or she has cleared the background check. 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 the externship. Nor may you work for any federal judges while participating in this clinic. Furthermore, you may not receive any income or advance compensation from a law firm during the externship.

Students who have been preliminarily selected for an externship position must thereafter supply information for a background check and be granted a favorable security clearance in order to work in this Office.  In the context of the security clearance process, you will be asked to provide information, where applicable, concerning, among other things, your employment history, foreign travel, contacts with foreign nationals, dual citizenship, financial record, police record, and treatment for an emotional or mental health condition that could impair your judgment or reliability. The most common suitability issues that arise during the security clearance process are: past unlawful use of drugs, including marijuana; failure to comply with financial obligations; failure to register for the selective service; and misrepresentations or omissions on the security form. Students must be U.S. citizens and must have spent 3 of the last 5 years in the United States.

For more information, consult the websites for the EDNY and SDNY. If you hold dual citizenship, have lived abroad for more than two of the past five years, or have any other questions about the security clearance process, contact the Public Interest Law Center (PILC) to consult their Government Handbook, or make an appointment with Gail Zweig.

Application Procedure

Interested students should submit via CAMS the standard application, résumé and transcript, and a writing sample which is preferably not more than five pages long. These materials will then be forwarded to the United States Attorney’s Office. Please do not apply separately to the United States Attorney’s Office. Please note there is a separate application form for LL.M.s. The deadline is different than for JDs, and is posted on the Clinic Application Timelines page. There will be no interview.

Student Contacts

Spring 2023
Armando Gonzalez
Amanda Ikard
Alec Nadeau
Lucy Sundelson

Spring 2022
Ariel Adler
Arman Cuneo
Martin Sigalow
Matthew Uvas

* Consult the Clinics Open to LL.M. Students page to see if the clinic is available to LL.M.s in the current year.

** 5 credits include 3 clinical credits and 2 academic seminar credits.