Through the D.C. Semester in Practice, UGA Law offers a highly-competitive semester-long externship opportunity for students with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s Supreme Allied Commander Transformation (NATO SACT). Selected students will serve at the Headquarters Supreme Allied Commander Transformation (HQ SACT) Legal Office in Norfolk, Virginia. Students will have the opportunity to gain practical experience in public international law and national security law.

Read about students' past experiences in Spring 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2021, Fall 2022, and Spring 2024.    


  • D.C. Semester in Practice will nominate qualified students to NATO for consideration. NATO will make the final selection.
  • There is only one externship space available per semester.
  • Students may earn 10-12 credits for the semester, during which they will work in the legal office, and attend classes with Professor Jessica L. Heywood. Coursework will include regularly assigned readings and writing assignments to complement the work being undertaken at NATO. 
  • There is no funding available for this externship. Students are responsible for making their own travel and housing arrangements, and for all expenses incurred in the course of the externship. Students must maintain health insurance for the duration of the externship.

Criteria for Selection

  • Applicants must be citizens of NATO nations.
  • This position requires the acquisition or possession of a security clearance at the NATO SECRET level issued by the appropriate national authority. D.C. Semester in Practice will assist selected students in completing necessary security clearance applications. There is no guarantee that a selected student will receive the required security clearance, and participation is dependent on successfully acquiring the required security clearance. The security clearance application process can take more than 12 months. In light of this, students who are flexible as to which semester they will conduct the internship, or students with an existing adjudicated security clearance will be given priority consideration.
  • Students should have a demonstrated interest and background in international law. Work experience and coursework will be considered.

Application Information

A complete application must include the following:

  1. A completed application cover sheet (available by request from Professor Jessica L. Heywood:
  2. A curriculum vitae or resume, indicating all relevant experience (academic studies, fieldwork, volunteer work, and paid work)
  3. Statement of interest (maximum 5 pages, doubled-spaced, 12-point font) describing your interest in the externship and specifically answering the following questions:
    • Why do you want to extern at NATO?
    • What is your area of legal interest? Do you have any particular expertise or experience in public international law and/or national security?
    • What are the objectives/goals/expected outcomes of participation in the externship?
    • How will this externship build on your current academic interests?
    • What role will this externship play in your long-term career plans?
  4. A legal writing sample, between 4-10 pages in length.

How to Submit

Application cover sheets, and all supporting documentation, must be emailed to Professor Jessica L. Heywood at Use “NATO Externship Application” in the subject line.

Contact Information

Director(s): Jessica L. Heywood

Course(s): D.C. Externship Clinic