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Student Honors Law Clerk Program in EPA's Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance

Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance (OECA)

OECA aggressively goes after pollution problems that make a difference in communities through vigorous civil and criminal enforcement that targets the most serious water, air and chemical hazards. OECA also:

  • advances environmental justice by protecting vulnerable communities;
  • assures compliance through effective monitoring and assessment; and
  • improves compliance by explaining how to comply with regulatory requirements.


The EPA Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance (OECA) offers qualified and highly motivated law students the opportunity to work side by side with practicing environmental lawyers and technical professionals in its Washington, D.C. headquarters office. Students work in the office as law-school-sponsored academic (for credit) interns; under a variety of public service or academic law-school-sponsored fellowships; and as unpaid law clerks or interns.

What do law clerks and interns hired under this program do?

Law clerks and interns hired under the Student Honors Law Clerk Program work in one or more of the designated practice areas in OECA based upon a preference and skills questionnaire and the space available in each individual office. View a list of these practice areas.

  • Clean Air Act enforcement
  • Toxics and pesticides enforcement
  • Clean Water Act enforcement
  • Hazardous waste enforcement
  • Hazardous waste site remediation enforcement (Superfund)
  • Multi-statute case development and enforcement
  • Criminal enforcement
  • Federal activities (NEPA, Environmental Impact Statement review)
  • International enforcement (NAFTA; import/export requirements)
  • Federal facilities enforcement
  • Administrative litigation and appellate review
  • Environmental justice
  • Enforcement policy, planning and legislation
  • Enforcement targeting and development
  • Compliance assurance and outreach

Law clerks and interns work under the direct supervision of a practicing attorney or technical professional, performing a wide variety of legal or technical research, policy analysis or writing assignments. Each student is expected to develop a written assessment of activity, documenting accomplishments, works in progress and anticipated issues.

Who is eligible?

  • Summer program: Qualified first- and second-year law students are eligible.
  • Fall and winter-spring semesters: Qualified second-year and third-year law students are eligible.

Where would I work?

The majority of the positions will be located in the EPA William Jefferson Clinton Federal Office Building located at 1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W. in Washington, D.C. This building is easily accessible to the metropolitan Metro subway system, Federal Triangle Station, which included the Orange and Blue line trains. We are located a short distance from the White House, FBI Building and Smithsonian Institution museums.

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What is the typical length of employment?

  • Summer internships generally run for eight to ten weeks.
  • Fall and winter-spring semester internships require a minimum time commitment of two full days or 15 hours per week. Full-time "semester in Washington" law school-sponsored internships for 10-12 weeks are welcome.

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Are the positions paid? What are the benefits?

  • We currently are not able to offer any paid positions.
  • A Metro transit subsidy is available to all student interns.
  • Throughout the year, we offer a series of unique, specialized training sessions on a wide variety of current and emerging issues regarding environmental protection, safety and law enforcement. These seminars are 90 minutes long and offered to all clerks and interns during the lunch hour. View some examples of educational programs offered in the past.
  • "Contemporary Issues in Environmental Justice."
  • "Building a Strong Case: Challenge Proof Sampling & Effective Case Development
  • "EPA as a Global Environmental Leader."
  • "Walking the Talk: Live, Life Ecology for A Cleaner Tomorrow."
  • "Uncle Sam as a Polluter? Enforcement Activities at Federal Facilities."
  • "Alternate Dispute Resolution: Becoming A Standard Operating Procedure for Resolving Disputes."
  • "EPCRA: America's Largest Neighborhood Watch Program - or How EPA Reduced Chemical Emissions Without Really Trying"
  • "License To Kill: Pesticide Registration and Enforcement."
  • "Working Effectively with Tribal Governments to Protect Public Health"
  • "Views from former EPA Summer Interns: Environmental Law in Government; Private Practice; Corporate America and Beyond."
  • "The Clean Air Act: It's Not Necessarily Gone With The Wind."
  • "Hazardous Waste Management in America: Overview of RCRA and CERCLA."
  • "Water & Wetlands: Current Developments & Challenges."
  • "Finding Your Dream Job in a Tight Market: Resumes; References & Sources."

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How and when do I apply?

  • Accurate, current resumes and a short cover letter highlighting the specific knowledge, skills and interests that you have in environmental law enforcement should be e-mailed directly to OECALawInternProgram@epa.gov.
    • Positions are competitive! State your case clearly. Tell us what you have accomplished in college or in law-related or environmental internships.
  • Application Schedule:

    OECA Student Honors Law Clerk Program
    Application Deadlines
    Internship Period
     Fall
    July 20
    September – December
     Winter - Spring
    November 20
    January – March
     Summer
    February 20
    June – August

  • NOTE that we do not accept mail or courier-delivered applications.
  • NOTE that you must state your name in the subject line of all email submissions.
  • Telephone interviews can be scheduled for out of town candidates.
  • Questions may be directed to OECALawInternProgram@epa.gov

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