Government Civil Litigation Externship - Southern District of New York

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

LW.11701 / LW.11895
Professor Elizabeth Kim (Fall)
Professor Rebecca Tinio (Fall)
Professor David J. Kennedy (Spring)
Professor Mónica Folch (Spring)
Open to 3L and 2L students
Maximum of 10 students

Fall and Spring semesters
5 credits*
No prerequisites or co-requisites, but see Note: re security clearance.

Course Description

The US Attorney's Office will select up to ten students for externships in the Government Civil Litigation Externship - 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.

NYU shall select up to ten students to participate in a seminar on Government Civil Litigation in the Southern District of New York.  The seminar is separate from, but complementary to, the externship. The seminar meets one evening a week at the U.S. Attorney's Office.

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 (AUSA) 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 AUSAs not only investigate and prosecute health care fraud, mortgage and other financial fraud, and civil racketeering cases, but also enforce the federal civil rights laws, environmental laws, and tax and bankruptcy laws. On the defensive side, Civil Division AUSAs represent such federal agency clients as the CIA, the FBI, the Department of Defense, State Department 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 AUSAs 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 AUSAs to specialize in any particular type of case, thus providing a civil practice that is extraordinary in its breadth. AUSAs 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.

Externship - Civil Division, US Attorney's Office - SDNY

Each student will be assigned to work with two AUSAs. Students are required to work twelve to fifteen hours each week in the United States Attorney's Office. 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. This externship is separate from, but complementary to, the seminar.

Seminar - Government Civil Litigation in the Southern District of New York

Participants meet 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.  This seminar is separate from, but complementary to, the SDNY externship.


Both the fieldwork and the seminar receive letter grades.

Application Process

Students should fill out and submit the standard application, resume and unofficial transcript using CAMS, the online application system. These materials will then be forwarded to the United States Attorney’s Office (i.e., you should not apply separately to the United States Attorney’s Office). There will be no interview.

Note to Students Regarding Security Clearance and Conflicts of Interest

Students selected for the program will be required to pass a security background check overseen by the Department of Justice’s Executive Office of U.S. Attorneys (“EOUSA”).  A favorable determination from EOUSA 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. For a complete list of eligibility requirements, visit the SDNY website and scroll down to "Eligibility Requirements and Conditions for All Internship and Externship Programs." In making its determination regarding suitability, EOUSA 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, including marijuana. 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.

Student externs cannot work for or be paid by another law firm or similar entity during the period of the externship at the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Externs are also prohibited from participating in any law school or other legal clinic involving litigation with or proceedings before the United States or any federal entity during the period of the internship or externship. Nor may you work for any federal judges while participating in this externship. Written consent from the U.S. Attorney’s Office is required to participate in any other type of law school or legal clinic, or in any other type of outside employment, during the period of 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, 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 U.S.

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.

Student Contacts

Students who are interested in learning more about the course may wish to speak with the following students who were in the externship in 2022:

Fall 2022
Sammi Baruch
Adam Burton
Elizabeth Byrnes-Mandelbaum
Peter Fay
Jessica Halpert
Soumya Kandukuri
Angela Neeley

Spring 2022
Sam Krevlin
Jinyoung Lee
Caitlin McCarey
Grace O’Brien
Young Park
Ryan Rescsanski
Zachary Sanders
Evan Weisberg
Julie Zhu

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