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, the OGC advises the Smithsonian Board of Regents, Secretary, Under Secretaries, museum directors, and other managers 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 generally monitors developments in the law for application to Smithsonian programs. The OGC is made up of 12 attorneys, whose work covers such diverse topics as tax, employment discrimination, import/export, federal appropriations, intellectual property, and environmental law. Legal interns in the OGC assist the attorneys in all subject matter areas. The interns work directly with all of the attorneys, performing traditional case law research, preparing legal memoranda for use in briefs and motions, reviewing agreements, surveying state law, and researching legislative history. When possible, interns are invited to attend hearings, depositions, and meetings. It is a small and busy office, and the internship program is fairly informal. We hope that the interns will dive into the work, and, in doing so, expose themselves to an interesting and diverse law practice.
The internships are not compensated. The OGC usually seeks a second or third year law student for one internship (or externship) each semester and over the summer. Part-time, school term interns work an average of 15 hours a week. Full-time internships (or externships) also are available during the school year. Summer interns usually work full time for 10 weeks, but the schedules are flexible. 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 15 and May 15; the spring internship between May 15 and October 1; and the summer internship between September 1 and February 15. Positions will be open until filled, that is, the Smithsonian may review applications as received and encourages interested students should submit applications early within the relevant application window.