Conducted with the cooperation of the Criminal Division of the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York

LW.11207 / LW.10835
Professor Anna Skotko
Professor Hadassa Waxman
Open to 3L and 2L students
Maximum of 8-10 students
Fall and Spring semesters
5 credits*
Prerequisites/Co-requisites: Criminal Procedure and Evidence are recommended**
Also see Note re: security clearance.

Course Description

The United States Attorney’s Office will select eight to ten students for externships in the Criminal Division of the United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York in Manhattan ("SDNY"), recognized nationally as one of the finest prosecution offices in the country.

NYU will select up to ten students to participate in a seminar on criminal prosecution in the Southern District of New York. The seminar is separate from, but complementary to, the externship. The seminar will meet on Mondays from 6:10-8:00 PM.

Work of the Criminal Division

Criminal Division Assistant United States Attorneys handle criminal cases from the initial investigative stage through appeal, conferring with investigators, local police and federal agents to plan strategy, presenting cases to the grand jury, negotiating with defense counsel, handling all court appearances and motion practice, trying cases before the bench and jury, and briefing and arguing appeals to the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. The cases are often very complex and significant. Because Manhattan is the financial capital of the world, as well as a major hub for organized crime, narcotics trafficking, and national security threats, the Office handles an unusually large number of cases involving sophisticated schemes in the white collar, public corruption, violent crime, international narcotics trafficking, and domestic and international terrorism areas.


By participating in this externship, students will have an opportunity to learn all about the inner workings of the federal criminal justice system. Each student will report to, assist, and work under the supervision of at least two Criminal Division Assistant United States Attorneys. Students are required to work twelve to fifteen hours each week in the United States Attorney’s Office.  Students will work closely with each of their supervisors in the investigation, preparation, and prosecution of criminal cases in federal court in the Southern District of New York. The students' work may include, for example, assisting interviews of federal agents, attending proffers of defendants hoping to cooperate with the government, and drafting research memoranda, motions, briefs, plea agreements and other pleadings and otherwise assisting in the preparation of such materials. Students will also assist Assistant United States Attorneys who are preparing for trial by, for example, assisting in the debriefing of witnesses and drafting jury instructions. Students will attend court proceedings, including pre-trial conferences, guilty pleas, sentencing proceedings, trials, and appellate arguments. The externship is separate from, although complementary to, the SDNY seminar. The fieldwork performed during the externship component of the course will be granted on a credit/fail basis.

The Seminar

Participants meet weekly for a two-hour evening seminar to discuss, study, and explore the many important roles of the prosecutor in the federal criminal justice system. Classes will focus on ethical and strategic considerations in exercising prosecutorial authority and other challenges facing prosecutors. Classes will examine a federal prosecutor’s role in all stages of the criminal process, starting with the initiation of the criminal investigation, and continuing through the filing of any charges, arrest, guilty plea or trial, conviction, sentencing, and appeal. The seminar will explore the wide range of legal and ethical issues that prosecutors routinely encounter. Topics will include: the multitude of criminal investigative techniques available to prosecutors, with an emphasis on the varying degrees of discretion afforded to prosecutors and the varying degrees of judicial oversight of those techniques; the working relationship between prosecutors and criminal investigators; prosecutors’ charging decisions, including whether to bring criminal charges in the first, place, what charges to bring, and issues relating to charges that carry mandatory minimum sentences; a defendant’s decision to enter a guilty plea and how prosecutors can ensure that, only those defendants who are guilty, plead guilty; and issues relating to defendants who enter into cooperation agreements with the prosecution with the hopes of receiving reduced sentences. Students will also participate in in-class simulations, so that students can improve and enhance their advocacy skills.


Fieldwork is assessed on a credit/fail basis. The seminar receives a letter grade.

Application Process

Students should fill out and submit the standard application, resume and unofficial transcript using CAMS, the online application system. These materials will then be forwarded to the United States Attorney’s Office (i.e., you should not apply separately to the United States Attorney’s Office).  There will be no interview.

Note to Students Regarding Security Clearance and Conflicts of Interest

Students selected for the program will be required to pass a security background check overseen by the Department of Justice’s Executive Office for United States Attorneys (“EOUSA”).  A favorable determination from EOUSA is required before an extern may begin working in any United States Attorney's Office.  A student must be a United States citizen to be eligible to work in the United States Attorney’s Office as an extern. For a complete list of eligibility requirements, visit the SDNY website (, select “Employment” and then “Law Student Intern Program”, and scroll down to “Eligibility Requirements and Conditions for All Internship and Externship Programs.” In making its determination regarding suitability, EOUSA considers a number of factors, including a candidate’s tax filing and payment history, credit history, candor, and history of any usage of controlled substances. It is critical that students accepted for the externship complete the required security paperwork as soon as possible after acceptance into the externship so that the security background check can be timely obtained. A student may not commence externship work unless he or she has cleared the background check.

Student externs cannot work for or be paid by another law firm or similar entity during the period of the externship at the United States Attorney’s Office. Externs are also prohibited from participating in any law school or other legal clinic involving litigation with or proceedings before the United States or any federal entity during the period of the internship or externship. Nor may student externs work for any federal judges while participating in this externship. Written consent from the U.S. Attorney’s Office is required to participate in any other type of law school or legal clinic, or in any other type of outside employment, during the period of the externship.

Student Contacts

Students who are interested in learning more about the course may wish to speak with the following students who were in the clinic during the 2015-16 school year:

Fall 2016
Amanda Boitano
Leslie Cahill
Juan Gascon
Brittney Nagle
Meredith Nelson
Nathaniel Roth
Rachel Schorr
Sophia Suarez
Andrew Wong
Kevin Wu

Spring 2017
Michael Borek
Rupinder Garcha
Jennifer Graber
Sarah Higgins
Yana Manevich
Lorena Michelen
Kaitlin Paulson
Christina Romero
Daniel Wiesenfeld
John Wynne

* 5 credits includes 3 clinical credits and 2 academic seminar creits.

** These courses may be taken concurrently with the clinic.