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Jobs, Fellowships and Externships

EPA Careers and Internships

Attorney Positions

Attorneys in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Chicago office are responsible for a variety of legal duties associated with implementing various environmental laws in six midwestern states. The responsibilities include:

Attorneys work on matters receiving intense public and congressional attention involving serious threats to public health and the environment and often millions of dollars in cleanup costs to eliminate those threats.

Working in a large organization, attorneys must be skilled at coordinating and cooperating with large numbers of involved parties. Attorneys must also be able to resolve disputes and develop a consensus among different interests, including the public, industry, environmental groups, and state and local governments.

The salary for FY 2013 for a GS-905-11 Step One General Attorney in Chicago is $62,909.

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How to apply

The Region 5 Office of Regional Counsel does not currently have any permanent attorney positions available. In the event such a position were to be available, to apply, please submit:

  1. a resume,
  2. two reference letters attesting to your professional qualifications,
  3. a personal statement (not to exceed one page in length) expressing why you desire to work for U.S. EPA and how your educational background and/or professional experience will benefit this office,
  4. a writing sample,
  5. and law school transcripts.

Send your application materials to the attention of:

Bertram C. Frey, Deputy Regional Counsel
Office of Regional Counsel (C-14J)
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 5
77 W. Jackson Blvd.
Chicago, IL 60604

Please direct questions about the status of your application to Ms. Darlene Weatherspoon, 312-886-6823.

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Region 5 Honors Attorney Fellowship Program

Due to fiscal constraints EPA Region 5 will not be hiring a 2013 EPA Region 5 Honors Attorney Fellow. We hope to resume our program with a 2014 fellowship. As soon as we have more information regarding the availability of a 2014 fellowship, we will update this page.

The EPA Region 5 Honors Attorney Fellowship is designed for a recent law school graduate with excellent academic credentials and a strong interest in an environmental law career and the public sector. It provides an opportunity for entry-level attorneys to practice law in a leading government environmental organization, and to receive extensive training in and exposure to environmental law and policy work in the public sector. Region 5 offers Honors Attorneys significant responsibility, the opportunity to handle a varied caseload that includes enforcement and counseling work, and extensive training and mentoring from dedicated colleagues with recognized expertise. The Region offers a diverse and supportive work environment.

The Region 5 Honors Attorney Fellowship is a temporary two-year position in the Chicago, Illinois office. The Honors Attorney Fellow is expected to commit to the full two-year term.

For questions about the Region 5 Honors Attorney Fellowship Program, please contact:

Ignacio Arrázola
Fellowship Program Coordinator


During the first year, salary will be at the GS-11 level (currently starting at $62,909 per year). At the beginning of the second year, there is the potential for promotion to the GS-12 level (currently starting at $75,403). Judicial clerks may be hired at the GS-12 grade. There is no promotion potential beyond GS-12 for this position. Relocation expenses are not authorized.

Application Requirements

We generally require the following information:

Selected applicants are invited for interviews in Chicago (at the candidate's expense), or telephone interviews may be conducted when appropriate.


Generally, eligibility has been limited to current law school students and judicial clerks. Current law school students receiving a J.D. or a post-J.D. Master of Laws (in environmental law) from an ABA-accredited law school within the same calendar year the fellowship begins have been eligible to apply.

Judicial clerks or environmental law fellows who received a J.D. or a post-J.D. Master of laws (in environmental law) from an ABA-accredited law school within the two calendar years preceding the fellowship and who were admitted to the bar of any State, U.S. territory, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, or the District of Columbia with active status and authorized to practice law have also been eligible to apply. Applicants must be a U.S. citizen to qualify for this position.

EPA Region 5 may revise these eligibility requirements once it resumes the fellowship program.

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Honors Attorney Fellowships in Other EPA Offices

Other EPA law offices have Honors Attorney Fellowship programs. Follow the links below for more information:

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Legal Externships (and Internships)


Externs in Region 5's Office of Regional Counsel typically conduct legal research and write legal memoranda to support enforcement cases brought under Superfund (CERCLA), the Clean Air Act (CAA), the Clean Water Act (CWA), the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), and the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA), among others.

The experience will of course vary depending upon the project assigned to the extern. It is not atypical for externs, in addition to legal research and writing, to attend negotiations and public meetings, to draft dispositive motions (such as motions for accelerated decision in cases before an administrative law judge), or to draft requests for information or subpoenas pursuant to statutory authority.

For more detailed information, please read our brochure, Summary of Extern Program Office of Regional Counsel (PDF) (8pp, 783KB)

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Most all the externs at ORC are law school students in their second or third year of study (or between them). We find these students have the training and interests most applicable to the experiences we provide at ORC, and in turn they benefit the most from such experiences. At times there are externships available that do not deal with legal research and writing, and are thus open to undergraduate students, though these are rare. Application procedures for any type of externship are the same (see below).

For Fall and Spring, interviews typically conclude about one month before the start date of the externship. For Summer, interviews start in September and typically conclude in February. If an extern wishes to continue working for a second or third semester for ORC, we do ask the extern to reapply.

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How to apply

In order to be considered for an extern position, an applicant should submit a cover letter, resume, unofficial law school transcript and short writing sample (no more than 10 pages) by email (preferred) to Leverett Nelson (nelson.leverett@epa.gov), or by mail to:

Mr. Leverett Nelson, Associate Deputy Regional Counsel
Office of Regional Counsel (C-14J)
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 5
77 West Jackson Blvd.
Chicago, IL 60604-3590

In order to begin their externship, successful candidates must submit several forms, including an application for government employment, a worksite experience form (which requires a signature by the school in which the candidate is enrolled), a computer security form, and an ethics form. Externs must be U.S. citizens and are subject to a background check.


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Scheduling & Compensation

Externs are expected to work at least 16 hours per week, and preferably 20 hours per week, during the semester. During the summer, externs work 40 hours per week. To the greatest extent possible, these hours should be in blocks of time (for example, mornings or afternoons four days a week or two eight-hour days a week). We find that less time than that means less interesting and productive experiences for the extern.

Fall, spring, and summer externships are available. Fall externships usually start the day after Labor Day; spring externships start after the Martin Luther King holiday; and summer externships begin after Memorial Day.

While externship positions do not provide monetary compensation, select applicants may qualify for a paid internship. The number of available paid internships varies annually.

Because we are aware that many externs receive academic credit for their experiences, we work hard to ensure that externships are both beneficial and challenging.

For more information about ORC's externships, contact Leverett Nelson (nelson.leverett@epa.gov), 312-886-6666.

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