The Office of General Counsel (OGC) protects the legal interests of the Smithsonian Institution, a trust instrumentality of the United States. In carrying out that mission, OGC advises the Smithsonian Board of Regents, Secretary, Deputy and Under Secretaries, museum and unit directors, and other Smithsonian personnel on the administration of the Institution; represents the Smithsonian in litigation and other adversarial proceedings; issues final determinations on administrative tort and personal property claims; drafts exhibition, sponsorship, and licensing agreements; and monitors developments in the law for application to Smithsonian programs. The Office is comprised of attorneys whose work covers a wide range of issues, including collections management, employment discrimination, ethics, federal appropriations, intellectual property, and tax.
Legal interns in OGC work closely with attorneys in all subject matter areas. Interns will learn about the responsibilities of a General Counsel Office by gaining exposure to the Office's diverse law practice through its litigation and transactional work, as well as client counseling. Interns will develop their analytical and legal writing skills by working directly with the attorneys, including performing traditional case law research, preparing legal memoranda, reviewing agreements, surveying state law, and researching legislative history. When possible, interns are invited to attend hearings, depositions, and meetings.
The internships are not compensated. OGC hosts up to two law students each semester and over the summer. School term interns may join OGC on a part-time or full-time basis. Summer interns usually work full time for 10 weeks. Some interns have received law school credit for their OGC work. Others have received public interest grants from their law schools to cover their expenses.
Interested applicants should apply through the Smithsonian‘s online application system (SOLAA) and include a cover letter, resume, law school transcript, and writing sample (transcripts need not be official, unofficial transcripts may be submitted electronically). The Smithsonian will accept applications for: the fall internship between January 1 and August 15 (because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, fall 2020 positions will be remote); the spring internship between May 1 and October 1; and the summer internship between September 1 and January 15. Applications are reviewed on a rolling basis. Therefore, the Office encourages interested students to submit applications early within the relevant application window.