The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is an agency within the United States Department of Justice. The primary mission of ATF is to prevent violent crime by enforcing and administering the Gun Control Act, the Federal firearms and explosives laws, and alcohol and tobacco trafficking laws. As a small agency with broad, interrelated missions involving law enforcement, regulatory compliance, and homeland security concerns, ATF affords attorneys, interns, and recent law school graduates the opportunity to experience a variety of legal disciplines in a dynamic and collegial environment.
The Office of Chief Counsel consists of approximately 80 attorneys who provide legal advice and services to the Bureau nationwide in support of programs and operations. A number of attorneys are located in ATF Headquarters in Washington D.C., where they provide legal advice and strategic guidance to Bureau leadership. Headquarters attorneys are divided into four practice groups: Litigation; Administration and Ethics; Disclosure, Forfeiture and Criminal Law; and Firearms, Explosives, and Arson. ATF lawyers are also based in field offices, where they work directly with special agents and industry operations investigators on active cases.
Although the responsibilities of ATF attorneys vary depending on the location or division to which they are assigned, they work closely with their colleagues around the country and their clients to support the mission of ATF as a law enforcement and regulatory agency. Attorneys are often encouraged to take opportunities to expand their knowledge and experience through details to other areas of legal practice.
ATF hires experienced attorneys through attorney vacancy announcements on http://www.justice.gov/careers/legal/. As positions become available, they are posted with specific application requirements, which will vary depending on the position. ATF posts all attorney positions open to the public for application on this website. Please follow the application instructions on the individual announcement to apply.
Summer Law Intern Program
We participate in the Department of Justice’s (DOJ’s) Summer Law Intern Program (SLIP), which is the Department’s recruitment program for paid summer internships. Admission to SLIP is highly competitive and the majority of the students applying are in their second year of law school. Graduating law students are eligible for a summer internship before entering a judicial clerkship or full-time graduate law program. Visit http://www.justice.gov/careers/legal/summer-intern.html for additional information on this program. The application deadline for this program is generally in September for the following summer.
Volunteer Legal Intern Program
In addition to SLIP, ATF offers unpaid summer and in-semester internship opportunities in Washington D.C. and in many cities throughout the United States. Academic credit may be granted for these positions, subject to law school policy and practice. Students wishing to apply for a volunteer position may submit a cover letter and resume via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Application deadlines for internship programs are as follows:
- Spring semester: October 1
- Summer: December 1
- Fall semester: June 1
Please note that the preferred contact method for status updates is via the above noted email address. Please indicate in the subject line of your email for which term you are applying (i.e., spring, summer, or fall).
Permanent Job Opportunities for Graduating Law Students
ATF also participates in DOJ’s Attorney General’s Honors Program, the only method by which the Department hires graduating law students as entry-level attorneys. Please note that the deadline for this program is generally in September of the fall semester of the student’s final year of law school or final year of clerkship. Visit http://www.justice.gov/careers/legal/ for additional information on this program.
Note that ATF is not able to hire students directly out of law school or immediately following the conclusion of a judicial clerkship unless applicants apply through the Honors Program.
Interns participating in SLIP and ATF’s volunteer program can anticipate receiving hands-on experience in all of the Office’s areas of practice. At Headquarters, student interns will have the opportunity to work closely with attorneys who provide legal advice to a wide array of ATF and DOJ officials on ATF’s policies, programs and enforcement operations; review and draft legislation impacting ATF’s authority and enforcement capabilities; and handle employment-related litigation for ATF. Interns can expect to research discrete legal issues, review and organize documents for litigation, draft memoranda and correspondence, and perform other tasks as required. Legal interns may attend client meetings, depositions, moot courts, and other professional activities involving ATF attorneys. In addition, interns may have the opportunity to participate in
brown-bag lunches with senior Bureau officials and to tour ATF facilities, such as the ATF National Laboratory, the Canine Training Center, and the Firearms Tracing Center.