Deferred Attorney Extern

Department of Law Extern

The Department of Law is interested in placing law graduates and licensed attorneys in our Extern Program. This program is designed to provide participants with a challenging, unpaid externship that reflects the demands and rewards of public service.  This program is for attorneys who have been hired by law firms, but their start dates have been deferred or they have been offered a “sabbatical” leave to provide pro bono work.

The participant will be assigned to one of the practice divisions within the law department.  He or she will be assigned a supervisor/mentor who will coordinate assignments.  Together, the chosen participant and the supervisor will determine the start date, the hours to be worked and the date on which the program will end for the individual.

Participants in the program are not precluded from other employment, but must comply with all applicable Rules of Professional Responsibility to ensure that any and all conflicts are handled within those rules.  If there is a potential conflict or question or concern regarding a particular conflict on a specific case, the Corporation Counsel or the First Assistant Corporation Counsel should be notified.

Interested applicants apply on-line at   Select "Getting Started" click on Open Job Opportunities.  The position is identified as Law Extern. Follow the instructions to apply on-line.  There is a brief description of the different opportunities available.

If you have any questions, please contact James Dunn at 312-744-1558.

The following is a brief description of the available divisions:


The participant would be responsible for research, reading the record, and drafting the brief, and would receive detailed feedback on the draft. If oral argument is set, and it is appropriate for the participant, we would provide further supervision and support through a moot court and at oral argument.

Aviation, Environmental, Regulatory (AER)

Working in AERC would offer the participant the opportunity to work on a broad range of projects including advice and counsel, transactional, and litigation projects.  Some of the work would include: observing and supporting attorney court appearances, preparing and offering legal opinions in response to clients' requests, research and drafting (motions, briefs, substantive legal correspondence).  Work on The O'Hare Modernization Program (OMP) would introduce the participant to a broad range of issues including contract negotiation, municipal procurement issues, sustainable design and would involve working with federal and other local agencies, as well as construction litigation. 

Building and License Enforcement (B&LE)

Participants in the B & LE Division would have the opportunity to try cases in the Circuit Court of Cook County (Criminal, Civil and Chancery Divisions) as well as in the Department of Administrative Hearings and in the Department of Business Affairs and Licensing.  A participant would be assigned a case to handle from start to finish which would include discovery, trial strategy, negotiations and trial/settlement. The matters would include prosecution of the following areas:  Conservation/Code Enforcement; Licensing; Zoning; Demolition; and Drug and Gang House Enforcement.  The participant would also be involved in policy meetings with various Departments to streamline processes used to enforce the Building and Zoning Code of Chicago.

Collections and Ownership Litigation (COLD)

Participants in COLD would have the opportunity to draft memos and negotiate settlement agreements, file and take citations to discover assets at the circuit court and argue motions at the Department of Administrative Hearings.

Constitutional & Commercial Litigation

Participants would have the opportunity to work on complex legal issues, including constitutional law issues. They will draft arguments for motions, participate in court hearings and both answer and draft discovery.   


Participants in the Contracts Division would gain first-hand experience in every phase of the preparation and drafting of contracts, including the following:  (1) discussion with a client department about  how to structure a transaction to meet the client's objectives, (2) identification of business risks for the client's consideration, (3) contract drafting, and (4) negotiation with counsel for the City's contractors.

Employment Litigation (ELIT)

Participants in ELIT would practice in state and federal courts and handle employment cases that involve extensive motion practice, intensive discovery, depositions, settlement negotiations and trials.  A participant can expect to answer complaints, file motions to dismiss, answer discovery, take depositions, and actively participate in all stages of the litigation.  All participants would be assigned to a case with a partner and a supervisor who would supervise all aspects of the case.

Federal Civil Rights Litigation (FCRL)

FCRL, the Division that defends the City and police officers sued in federal court for alleged misconduct pursuant to Section 1983 as well as state law claims, offers participants the opportunity to manage a case in federal court from its inception.  They would be responsible, under the supervision of an experienced attorney, for answering complaints, drafting and answering written discovery, motion practice, taking and defending depositions, preparing pretrial orders, engaging in settlement negotiations and trying cases.

Labor Division

Participants will assist with investigating and defending charges filed at the administrative level in employment discrimination, harassment and retaliation and, in doing so, gain knowledge and experience in a broad range of employment-related issues, including compliance with the ADA, FMLA, and the City's Sexual Harassment Policy.  Participants will also have the opportunity to second chair grievance arbitration hearings and disciplinary proceedings before the Police Board and the Human Resources Board.

Legal Counsel

Participants will help attorneys prepare ordinances for introduction at City Council meetings, and help research and provide advice in response to requests by City departments and officials.  Accompanied by division attorneys, participants will have the opportunity to attend City Council Committee meetings where proposed ordinances are debated, as well as meetings of the full City Council.  Working with division attorneys, participants write ordinance drafts, research memoranda, and ceremonial resolutions for introduction at City Council meetings.

Legal Information and Investigations

Participants will be immersed in electronic discovery issues and will track and respond to preservation requests received by the City and issue legal holds on electronic public records.  The participants may have the opportunity to research and advise on electronic discovery issues.

Participants will also provide legal advice concerning the new Freedom of Information Act, and act as counsel for the City for FOIA appeals filed with the Attorney General's office.  It is anticipated that the participants would be able to independently handle appeals with supervision from more senior staff.  Participants will be responsible for locating documents, preparing appropriate responses to subpoenas and arguing motions to quash, or motions to show cause for failure to produce.

Municipal Prosecutions

Participants in the Municipal Prosecutions Division would get a wide variety of practical experience prosecuting violations of the Municipal Code in several different forums.  Participants in the Traffic Unit would get experience trying cases before circuit court judges and handling a high-volume practice.  Participants in the Administrative Hearings Unit would get hands-on experience conducting hearings before Administrative Law Officers and dealing with a wide variety of cases, including vehicle impoundments, gun registration denials and revocations, animal control issues, and myriad other Municipal Code violations, plus experience in dealing with police witnesses.   Participants in the Branch Courts Unit would get experience handling a variety of Municipal Code violations, including city misdemeanor charges before judges in various branch courts, plea-bargaining and trying cases, dealing with police witnesses, and working with the State's Attorney's office.  

Real Estate

Service in the Real Estate Division would provide the participant with experience in the City's purchase, sale, leasing, condemnation and zoning of land, the management of the public way and public open spaces, "green" initiatives, and the execution of the City's affordable housing and urban redevelopment programs.  Participation would include drafting redevelopment agreements, attending negotiating sessions, preparing ordinances and assisting at closings.

Revenue Litigation

A participant in this division could expect to assist with legal research; drafting memoranda, briefs and settlement agreements; preparing discovery requests and responses; interviewing witnesses; attending court calls and administrative calls; performing factual investigation; and performing other related duties as required in primarily tax work, both litigation and advising


Participants in the Torts Division will receive their own docket of personal injury cases.  Participants will answer pleadings, draft, file, and argue contested motions, propound and answer written discovery, depose witnesses, conduct Rule 90 arbitrations, and try cases in the Circuit Court of Cook County.   

Graduation from an ABA accredited law school at the time of placement.
To be considered for this program, please submit a copy engagement or offer letter from your firm. We will attempt to place applicants in their preferred division as indicated in your answer to the Screening Question in the system.

Your initial evaluation will be based on the information provided on the application form and documents submitted with the application.  Applications must be submitted by the individual applicant.  No second party applications will be accepted.

Residency is not required for these unpaid positions.

If you are disabled and require a reasonable accommodation to file your application, please contact the City of Chicago, Department of Human resources at 312-744-4976, TYY 312-744-5035.  You will be required to provide information regarding your request.


City of Chicago is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer.

City of Chicago                                                                                              Department of Human Resources

Rahm Emanuel, Mayor                                                                              George H. Arteaga, Commissioner

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