A photograph of law school students and faculty standing in front of the White House.
Semester in Washington, DC

The ability to work on Medicaid in the months following the Supreme Court decision [NFIB v. Sibelius] taught me more than any classroom experience would have been able to. The attorneys I worked with were so open to helping me grow as a lawyer and advocate. It was really a wonderful experience.

Tamara Kramer ’13
National Health Law Program

I worked within the EPA [and] also collaborated with attorneys at the Department of Justice . . . My mentor had me shadow her through branch and department meetings . . . [and] organized weekly seminars for the interns to partake in and learn more about other aspects of the agency.

Silpa Rao ’13
Environmental Protection Agency

Each Spring, the Semester in DC Program offers you a unique opportunity to deepen your education, gain valuable contacts and legal experience, build your resume, and learn how our federal government works -- by externing full-time in a congressional office, federal agency or national non-profit organization in Washington, DC. 

In addition to externing, you will enroll in two evening seminars taught by Professor Richard Parker in tandem with top DC government lawyers and practitioners who bring years of experience working in or with government. These seminars give you the basic tools you need to succeed in the externship while bringing you into contact with leaders and staff at a wide range of organizations.  You’ll learn first-hand the challenges of government from those who are actually doing the governing.  And you’ll earn a full semester's academic credit along the way. 

Students who have participated in the program regularly report that it opened doors to jobs -- not only in government but in the private sector, where alumni report that employers value this experience and regularly ask about it in job interviews.

A couple of years ago we did a survey of program alumni about their experience in DC:

  • 92% of respondents report that the Program honed skills of direct use in their current job.
  • 88% report the Program was of resume value with employers in getting their job.  
  • 100% believed that their Semester in DC strengthened their legal and policy education compared to the alternative of taking an additional semester of class work in Hartford.

Beyond the statistics, here in their own words is a sample of what program participants reported about their experience in DC: 

The ability to work on Medicaid in the months following the Supreme Court decision [NFIB v. Sibelius] taught me more than any classroom experience would have been able to. The attorneys I worked with were so open to helping me grow as a lawyer and advocate. It was really a wonderful experience.

Tamara Kramer ’13
National Health Law Program

I worked within the EPA [and] also collaborated with attorneys at the Department of Justice . . . My mentor had me shadow her through branch and department meetings . . . [and] organized weekly seminars for the interns to partake in and learn more about other aspects of the agency.

Silpa Rao ’13
Environmental Protection Agency

I strongly believe that my time in DC helped prepare me for my current job and helped me get my last job, clerking for a judge.  The people I met there were fantastic references and the judge told me that it was part of the reason he chose me.  My supervisors at the Department of Energy gave me my first opportunity to do some real legal writing and research and I learned a lot from them and the experience  as a whole

[After completing the Semester in DC program] I’ve gotten interviews for positions I frankly wasn’t qualified for (usually asking 1-3 years of experience) and DC was specifically mentioned . . . The DC Program was nothing but a positive for my career prospects.

[B]oth the educational and practical experiences in DC have strengthened my ability to analyze policy, conduct legal research, negotiate with multiple and diverse parties, and engage in highly complex work. The Semester in DC program was a profound experience for me and continues to significantly impact my employment search. The value of such a program cannot be overstated.

The semester in DC provided the best practical legal experience that I received in law school. It also provided a tremendous background in administrative law that has been helpful on a day-to-day basis at my current position.  Although I did not procure my current position through the program . . .  my job is a direct result of the networking I did in D.C. during the program.

The Semester in DC program was one of my defining experiences at UConn law.  The program exposed me to DC, which solidified my plans to move there after law school to seek employment.  Though I did not get job with the agency I externed for during the program, the program opened doors by providing opportunities to network with prospective employers which led to my enrolling in the Presidential Management Fellows Program, through which I got my current job at the Department of State.

The DC Program offers externships tailored to a wide range of skill sets – litigation (at the Department of Justice), agency adjudication, legislation, lobbying, rulemaking.  And it offers those opportunities in a wide variety of subject areas -- energy, environment, transportation, securities, housing, health, education, labor, tax, trade, social security, welfare, immigration, foreign relations, and national security.   UConn Law has placed interns with many federal agencies, Hill offices and non-profits.

If you’re interested in learning more information or how to apply, contact Prof. Mailly at Jennifer.mailly@uconn.edu or Prof. Parker at Richard.parker@uconn.edu.  We have many contacts at agencies, on the Hill and in non-profits in DC, and we can help you find the right fit, optimize your application and help you get placed.

This extraordinary program is available at only a handful of schools, yet the students who have participated in the program have found this program to be a life-changing educational experience, often the highlight of their law school career. Here’s what some of our students had to say about their experience in the program: 

Student Testimonials

This externship was a very meaningful experience. Although I had done some policy work in previous externships, the depth that I was able to dive into at Human Rights First was far beyond anything I had done before. My work focused on the three main areas that business and human rights focuses on: internet freedom, labor-worker’s rights, and private security contractors. I conducted policy research on companies and the U.S. government in anticipation of policies the organization supports. . . . This externship allowed me to refine my long-term career goals.

Allison Roso ’13
Human Rights First

This was the greatest position I have ever had the ability to secure. It was a life-changing experience for me. . . I conducted legal research, wrote memoranda, worked with stakeholders to build consensus, worked with legislative attorneys to help draft bills, and worked with congressional staff to research the legal and policy implications of legislative proposals. . . It was the hardest thing I ever did, from the application process to the actual work, but [it] provided me with a feeling that I could accomplish anything.

Don Bell ’13
Office of Senator Richard Blumenthal

This externship was probably the most meaningful and valuable experience I have had thus far in my professional and educational career . . . . Working at FinCEN, I had the opportunity to study first hand an area of law I am interested in, financial crimes, and prosecutorial work, and also continue my passion for public interest work. . . . The best part of this externship was that I made me realize exactly what I want to do with my law degree from the University of Connecticut School of Law. I absolutely want to pursue a career with FinCEN or at the very least with the federal government working on either financial crimes or with our various intelligence communities. Having the opportunity to work on drug trafficking, money laundering and terrorist financing cases was not only always interesting, but also made me feel like I was doing something incredibly valuable. . . . This was overall a perfect experience.

Michaela Ottenberg ’13
FinCEN, Treasury Department

The program has been a win-win experience for both students and agencies. Agencies benefit from the services of capable, dedicated and energetic law students working in concert with agency staff. Students learn how Washington works in the best possible way, by working in or with government, while deepening their knowledge of law and expanding their career horizons in the process. Below is a list of the agencies with which we have an ongoing relationship. The list expands each year.

  • Department of Education
  • Department of Energy
  • Department of Housing and Urban Development
  • Department of Justice
  • Department of State
  • Department of Transportation
  • Department of the Treasury
  • Environmental Protection Agency
  • Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
  • Human Rights First
  • Internal Revenue Service
  • National Health Law Program
  • National Labor Relations Board
  • Securities and Exchange Commission
  • U.S. Senate, Office of Senator Richard Blumenthal

Enrollment is open to current UConn students who are in their 2L or 3L year. Information sessions are held in the spring and early fall.  Students interested in participating in the Semester in DC Program are encouraged to contact Prof. Mailly at any time of the year.

For further questions or inquiries, please contact: Professor Jennifer Mailly by email or at 860-570-5216.