The Maritime Administration (MARAD) is the agency within the U.S. Department of Transportation dealing with waterborne transportation. Its programs promote the use of waterborne transportation and its seamless integration with other segments of the transportation system, and the viability of the U.S. merchant marine. MARAD works in many areas involving ships and shipping, shipbuilding, port operations, vessel operations, national security, environment, and safety. MARAD is also charged with maintaining the health of the merchant marine, since commercial mariners, vessels, and intermodal facilities are vital for supporting national security. MARAD provides support and information for current mariners, extensive support for educating future mariners, and programs to educate America’s young people about the vital role the maritime industry plays in the lives of all Americans. MARAD also maintains a fleet of cargo ships in reserve to provide surge sea-lift during war and national emergencies, and is responsible for disposing of ships in that fleet, as well as other non-combatant Government ships, as they become obsolete.
The Office of Chief Counsel is engaged in a broad and complex Federal agency legal practice in support of MARAD’s mission. The Office is divided into three primary Divisions: Maritime Programs, General Law and Litigation, and Legislation and Regulations. In addition, individual attorneys provide support in international law and employment law. Broadly speaking, the Office of Chief Counsel provides legal support in the following practice areas: administrative law, government contracts, litigation (direct litigation before the Civilian Board of Contract Appeals and support of DOJ in Federal Court litigation), environmental law (primarily CERCLA/NEPA), international law (including international trade law), employment and labor, Federal fiscal and appropriations law, legislative drafting and interpretation, financial transactions, admiralty law, maritime torts, and Freedom of Information Act.
The primary goal of the Office of Chief Counsel internship program is to provide interns with a substantive legal experience that allows them to develop the out-of-classroom skills necessary to be a successful lawyer. Interns will receive a wide variety of assignments, taking into account their stated interests and exposing them to as many practice areas as possible. Interns are a helpful and valued part of the team at the Office of Chief Counsel, and every work assignment contributes directly to the work of the office and the mission of the agency.
Frequently Asked Questions
How is the internship program organized?
Each intern is assigned a mentor who will regularly confer with the student, make sure that the intern receives a variety of substantive legal work, and ensure that the intern is receiving a balanced and valuable experience. Mentors will also provide the interns with an informal performance evaluation at the end of the internship. Interns will not receive work assignments exclusively from their mentor, but will receive a diverse set of assignments from throughout the Office of Chief Counsel.
In addition, the intern class will engage in substantive skill-building exercises, including practical writing seminars, development of a writing sample, and mock negotiations that will aid in developing practical skills. The program also includes field trips to see the real-world impacts of the agency’s work.
What are the work and duties assigned to interns?
The legal intern program is designed to afford every intern with experience in several areas of practice as well as with general exposure to the Agency’s mission as a whole. Interns are expected to conduct research and produce legal memorandum in support of the Office of Chief Counsel and the mission of MARAD on a variety of legal issues. Interns may also have the opportunity to lead small-scale projects under the supervision of a staff attorney. The interns will observe and participate in intra and inter-agency conferences and learn about the workings and administration of the U.S. Federal government.
What is the length of the internship and the hours the intern are expected to work?
There are three separate internship terms, Summer, Fall, and Spring, to coincide with law schools’ academic terms. Exact start and end dates may be flexible based on your school’s Academic Calendar. The work schedule is fairly flexible and most students work part time (approximately 20 hrs/week) during the Fall and Spring terms. Students are expected to work full time (40 hrs/week) during the Summer term. Teleworking is generally not permitted except for extraordinary circumstances.
Will I be paid?
The internship position is unpaid. However, interns may receive transit benefits to assist in covering the use of public transportation to and from the office.
Can I receive academic credit?
The Office of Chief Counsel will work with each intern’s law school to assist the student in acquiring academic credit.
Where is the office located?
The U.S. Maritime Administration (MARAD), Office of Chief Counsel is located at the Department of Transportation Headquarters building located at 1200 New Jersey Ave. SE Washington, DC 20590. The Agency’s website is located at www.marad.dot.gov.
The DOT building, completed in 2007 and awarded a LEED Gold Certification in 2011, was the first new cabinet-level headquarters built in over 30 years. The DOT building, together with nearby Nationals Stadium, sparked a revitalization of the Navy Yard neighborhood, which is now the fastest-growing area of D.C. and home to a number of restaurants, parks, and other amenities.
What law schools have participated in the Office of Chief Counsel’s intern program?
Students from any accredited law school in the United States may apply. Recent past participants have attended:
- American University, Washington College of Law
- Catholic University of America, Columbus School of Law
- Duke University School of Law
- George Mason University School of Law
- Georgetown University Law School
- George Washington University Law School
- Howard University School of Law
- Tulane University Law School
- University of Miami, School of Law
- University of Michigan Law School
- Vanderbilt Law School
What are the hiring criteria?
- be a U.S. citizen
- have completed one academic year of legal education and be currently enrolled in a legal program at an accredited law school in the United States, and;
- have strong writing, verbal communication, and organization skills.
Applicants will be evaluated on the basis of the following, in relative order of importance: academic performance in law school, interest in public interest/government work, prior work experience, writing skills, interpersonal skills, and undergraduate academic performance.
How do I apply for an internship position?
Email cover letter, resume, writing sample, and transcript to Evan Wisser at Evan.Wisser@dot.gov.
When do I need to apply?
Applications must be received for the Summer, Fall, and Spring terms as follows:
- Summer: January 30th
- Fall: May 30th
- Spring: October 1st
“I was most satisfied with the staff’s willingness to assign substantive work to the interns. I felt as though I was able to do real legal work and was contributing to the agency. The attorneys were confident in our work and respected our input.”
-J.T. Parisi, Intern, Summer 2016
“I felt that I was always doing work that was important to a larger project an attorney was working on. I never felt that I was assigned busy work, or work that would not be useful in some way. Further, Bernie in particular gave me feedback to improve my work and to ensure that it was useful to him. Lastly, I was surprised how interested the leadership of the agency was in getting to know and work with me and the other interns. They have made it clear how much they notice and appreciate our work, and have gone out of their way to plan things with us or meet with us.”
-Maryann Thompson, Intern, Summer 2016