Office of the General Counsel Summer Intern Program

The application period for the summer intern program is open until January 16, 2024.

On this page:

What Is the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission?

In 1974, Congress created the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) as an independent agency to enable the Nation to safely use radioactive materials for beneficial civilian purposes while ensuring the protection of people and the environment. The NRC regulates commercial nuclear power plants and other uses of nuclear materials, such as in nuclear medicine, through licensing, inspection, and enforcement of its requirements.

In establishing the NRC, Congress abolished the Atomic Energy Commission and divided its responsibilities between two new agencies that ultimately became the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the NRC. Congress assigned the functions of promotion and development of nuclear energy sources to DOE and gave the NRC an exclusively regulatory mission.

The NRC is headed by five Commissioners appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate for 5-year fixed, staggered terms. The President designates one of the Commissioners as the Chairman and official spokesperson for the agency.

What Are the Functions of the Office of the General Counsel?

The General Counsel is the chief legal advisor to the NRC and directs all matters of law and legal policy for the agency. The Office of the General Counsel (OGC) consists of six divisions that provide advice and assistance to the General Counsel and the NRC staff. The Solicitor, in conjunction with Legislative, Ethics and Administrative Law, has primary responsibility for supervising litigation in courts of law.

The NRC is one of the few Federal agencies authorized by statute to represent itself in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Justice.

What Is the OGC Summer Intern Program?

Each year, the NRC selects a small number of current law students to serve in the OGC Summer Intern Program. The program allows you to work closely with seasoned attorneys who advise the Commission and the agency technical staff in the development and implementation of the regulatory program and who represent the agency in administrative licensing and enforcement proceedings and on judicial review before United States Courts of Appeal. NRC attorneys also counsel and represent the agency on other administrative law, personnel, labor relations, procurement, and information law matters.

As an OGC Intern, you have the opportunity to work on a variety of tasks, such as the following:

  • conducting research and writing assignments
  • observing the workings of the agency in carrying out its regulatory responsibilities

What Does the Program Offer?

Competitive Salary:

OGC Interns who have completed one year of law school (30 to 49 semester hours) will start at Government Grade (GG)-7, Step 10. OGC Interns who have completed two years of law school (50 to 60 semester hours) will start at GG-9, Step 8. Please check OPM's salary tables for the most up-to-date salary information.

Assistance with Summer Housing:

As a temporary NRC employee hired for at least 30 days in a full-time capacity (i.e., 40 hours per week), you may be eligible to receive a monthly housing subsidy toward your actual lodging expenses incurred during your period of employment.

Valuable Professional Development:

When you arrive at the NRC, you will be assigned a mentor to help you acclimate to the program. You will have an opportunity to meet with the General Counsel and/or Associate General Counsels to discuss expectations. During your tenure, you will attend various introductory trainings and seminars that will outline the inner workings of the NRC.

You will have the opportunity to attend formal training sessions offered by internal OGC staff, the NRC Professional Development Center, and notable outside organizations (e.g., the Federal Bar Association). You will also receive on-the-job training from seasoned attorneys throughout OGC.

How Do I Qualify for the Program?

In order to qualify for the OGC Summer Intern Program, you must meet all three of the following qualification criteria:

  1. Be a U.S. citizen.
  2. Be ONE of the following:
    1. a first-year law student (1L)/rising second-year law student (2L) with 30 to 49 semester hours;
    2. a second-year law student (2L)/rising second-year law student (3L) with 50 to 60 semester hours;
  3. Be in the upper thirty percent (30%) of your law school class and/or have an overall grade point average (GPA) of 3.25 based on a scale of 4.0. (These criteria may be waived if your school utilizes a non-traditional grading system or you have unusual compensating qualifications, such as other academic degrees or pertinent work experience.)

In addition to the qualification requirements listed above, the ideal candidate(s) will also meet the following criteria:

  • Have coursework in areas of the law related to NRC practice and procedure (relevant coursework may include administrative law, legislative law, statutory interpretation, environmental law, energy law, public interest law, and/or trial advocacy);
  • Have excellent oral and written communication skills (relevant activities may include law review/journals, publications, trial practice/moot court, clinical law programs, and research assistantships); and
  • Have a demonstrated interest in public service (relevant experience may include past employment with public organizations and/or local/state/federal government agencies).

In order to qualify for the program, your complete application must be submitted during the open period (dates listed at the top of this page) and reflect how you possess all of the qualification criteria listed above.

How Do I Apply to the Program?

A complete application must include the following materials:

  • cover letter
  • résumé
  • list of three references, including at least one academic and one professional reference.
  • copy of your law school transcript and an explanation of your school's grading system, if necessary (Please do not have your school send your official transcript separately from your application—an official transcript will be requested if you are selected)
  • list of your current fall semester courses and intended future courses, if they are not already included on your transcript
  • sample of your legal writing, no longer than 10 pages, that is unedited by anyone else (portions of longer writing samples may require separate written introductions to provide context)

Interested applicants can apply through USAJobs.

The NRC provides reasonable accommodation to applicants with disabilities where appropriate. If you need a reasonable accommodation for any part of the application or hiring process, please notify the Disability Program Coordinator at (301) 287-0727 or TDD: 301-287-0712. Determinations on requests for reasonable accommodation will be made on a case-by-case basis.

After I Apply, What Should I Expect Next?

Current OGC attorneys and staff will review your application, paying particular attention to the following: academic achievement (i.e., grade point average and class standing), relevant legal coursework, extracurricular law school activities and associations, work experience, writing skills, and general interest in the NRC. OGC will be conducting online interviews for summer positions via MS Teams.

We Hold Ourselves to the Highest Standards

The NRC will consider candidates based solely on merit. The agency provides equal opportunity for all applicants and prohibits discrimination based on race, color, gender, national origin, religion, age, disability, sexual orientation, or reprisal for participation in any activity protected by the various civil rights statutes.

We value our veterans and their unique training and experience. Eligible veterans will receive preference afforded to them by the Veterans' Preference Act of 1944 and should submit appropriate documentation of service as part of their application.

What Are the Benefits of Working for the NRC?

Unparalleled Holidays and Leave:
Federal employees enjoy 10 paid holidays each year, and you will be eligible for any holidays that occur during your summer tenure (e.g., Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day). Summer employees (temporary appointments of 89 days or less) earn four hours of paid sick leave for each two-week pay period.

Flexible Work Schedules:
You can choose from a variety of flexible work schedules, including options such as compressed hours and gliding start/end times.

Convenience of Transportation:
The Washington, DC, metropolitan area has an extensive metro rail and bus system, with a stop at the NRC Headquarters building. The NRC also offers a ride-sharing network for commuters, transportation subsidies, and onsite parking.

Work/Life Balance:
At the NRC Headquarters, you will have access to many full-service, onsite amenities, including a cafeteria, general store, fitness center, child care center, and health center.

What Makes the NRC a Great Place To Work?

Our MISSION to protect people and the environment generates a real sense of commitment and camaraderie that permeates all levels of the NRC.

But our PEOPLE and ENVIRONMENT are what make the NRC such a great place to work. No matter your field or level of experience, NRC employees are always available and willing to lend a friendly ear and a helping hand.

Furthermore, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission Headquarters is situated in an area buzzing with activity. We are located in Rockville, Maryland, just a few miles from downtown Washington, D.C.

Here is a sampling of what the local area offers:

  • Popular Restaurants
  • Shops and Boutiques
  • World Class Entertainment
  • Historical Sites and Monuments
  • National Museums
  • Sporting Events
  • Scenic Parks
  • Cultural Activities
  • Airports and Train Stations
  • Public Transportation

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) for OGC Intern Applicants

How many selections will be made?

Our recruitment efforts depend heavily on our hiring needs and budgetary constraints. Typically, we expect to hire between two and four candidates.

May I submit my application prior to the open period/application acceptance dates?

In order to ensure you receive full consideration for the appropriate summer term, you may only apply during the posted open application acceptance period. Open and close dates for application acceptance will be posted at the top of this webpage. Also, because we receive an influx of applications closer to the closing date which may delay the review of your application, we recommend that you apply sooner rather than later.

How will the NRC conduct interviews?

This year, OGC will be conducting online interviews for summer positions via MS Teams

I have a competing offer for employment that requires a response before the NRC anticipates making its hiring decisions. What should I do?

We understand that many applicants are applying to positions with other agencies and organizations. Please notify us ahead of time, and we will check the status of your application. If possible, we may expedite the review of your application and provide you with a final decision. If you are no longer interested in being considered for a position with the NRC, please inform us of your intent to withdraw your application.

To whom should I address my cover letter?

Because your application may be reviewed by several staff members, we recommend that you address your cover letter generally to the “OGC Intern Program Coordinator.”

Do I need to send an official transcript as part of my application?

You do not need to send an official transcript as part of your application. Please do NOT have your school send an official transcript separately from your submitted application. An unofficial transcript or academic record that lists your courses and grades is sufficient for our review process. If you are selected for an Summer Intern position, an official transcript may be requested at that time.

My fall semester grades are not yet available, nor will they be posted before the closing date. What should I do?

We understand that your fall semester grades may not be finalized before you submit your application for the OGC Intern Program. We ask that you submit your most up-to-date law school transcript, as well as a list of your fall semester courses if they are not already included on your transcript, as part of your application. If you are a first-year law student (1L), and do not have any law school grades yet, we ask that you just submit a list of your first semester courses as part of your application. You may send an updated transcript at any time to be added to your application. If necessary, updated transcripts may be requested from the highest-rated applicants.

Is it necessary that I send a list of my current fall transcript and intended spring semester courses as part of my application? What if my school hasn't published its spring and/or fall course offerings, yet? What if I haven't decided on my future course schedules?

We understand that your future course schedule may not be finalized at the time of application submission. However, you more than likely have a basic understanding of the courses for which you plan to register. We request that you, to the best of your ability, provide your academic plans for upcoming years. This will give our review staff an insight into your area(s) of study and career direction.

May I send a writing sample that is longer than 10 pages?

We ask that you adhere to the 10-page maximum. Our review staff members have determined that a sample of 10 pages or less is adequate for assessing an applicant's writing skills. The 10-page maximum also helps us to streamline the review process, and ultimately make decisions more quickly.

There is no requirement regarding double or single-spaced writing samples. However, we prefer double-spaced writing samples, as they are easier to review.

What do you mean by “unedited by anyone else” for the writing sample?

We want to adequately assess your legal writing skills. We understand that legal course writing assignments may have undergone some minor revisions based on professor and/or fellow classmate reviews. However, we ask that you NOT submit group papers or official publications that have undergone significant editing.

Will I receive notification regarding the status of my application?

We receive many applications for this program each year, and we do our best to review them in a timely way. You can facilitate this process by ensuring that you send ALL application materials electronically (preferably in the order listed and as one single PDF) at the time of your application submission.

If you are selected for an interview, you normally will be contacted within one month of your application submission. This timeframe may be extended depending on the volume of applications we receive. We will contact you directly if you are selected for an interview, which will be conducted online via MS Teams.

Is a security clearance required for this position?

An offer is contingent upon obtaining favorable pre-employment information and processing of an NRC security clearance. The intern position requires an ANACI investigation ("L" clearance) 145b waiver. In order to be processed for a security clearance waiver, you are required to submit a security clearance package, including the Standard Form 86 (SF-86), "Questionnaire for National Security Positions." This process may differ if you have held or currently hold an active security clearance. After an official offer is extended, Human Resources and Security Services will work with you to complete the necessary security investigation.

Is this position subject to drug testing?

All NRC positions are subject to random drug testing in accordance with the NRC Drug Free Workplace Plan. All new NRC employees must sign a statement acknowledging that the NRC is a "zero tolerance" agency with respect to illegal drug use and accepting such as a condition of employment. Therefore, an official offer for an HLGP position is contingent upon obtaining a negative reading on pre-employment drug testing and receipt of a signed "zero tolerance" statement, which is included with the security clearance package.

How does the Summer Housing Assistance Program work?

As a temporary NRC employee hired for at least 30 days in a full-time capacity (i.e., 40 hours per week), you may be eligible to receive a monthly housing subsidy toward your actual lodging expenses incurred during your period of employment.

How does the Transportation Subsidy Program work?

If an in-person summer program is held in 2022, the NRC will subsidize your commuting cost up to $270 per month if you use public transportation to get to work. You cannot receive a transit subsidy if you park at an NRC building, and transit subsidies cannot be used to pay for parking at any location. The "Smart Card" that the NRC provides for this purpose cannot be used to pay for local official travel, such as taking the metro to downtown D.C. for a meeting. This program is subject to availability of agency funding.

How much travel is involved with this position?

There is little travel associated with our summer positions. If an in-person program is held in 2022, you may travel locally for some training purposes.

Does the OGC offer internships/externships during the school year (i.e., Spring or Fall Semester)?

We may consider requests for internships/externships during the school year on a case-by-case basis depending on hiring needs and budgetary constraints. Please contact us to see if we may be able to accommodate your request.

If I serve as a Summer Intern, will I be considered for future permanent employment with the NRC?

Each year, depending on hiring needs and budgetary constraints, the NRC selects a small number of graduating law students or judicial law clerks to serve in the OGC Honor Law Graduate Program (HLGP). Established in 1972, the HLGP is the primary mechanism for hiring entry-level attorneys at the NRC. Applications for the HLGP are typically accepted in the fall. We recommend that you check the HLGP website for the most accurate and up-to-date information. If, at the conclusion of your summer internship, you are interested in being considered for the HLGP, you will need to submit a formal application.

Page Last Reviewed/Updated Wednesday, December 20, 2023