Ms. JD International

State Department Part IV: Civilian Response Corps

Interested in working abroad but only for a short period of time? Are you working at a federal agency as a lawyer or hold a JD degree and want to use your legal skills for projects abroad? Interested in gaining field experience in rule of law and judicial reform? The Civilian Response Corps may be an excellent opportunity for you.

Lawyers in the federal government have an opportunity to work in the international sector through the State Department’s Civilian Response Corps (CRC).  The CRC is operated by the State Department’s Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations (CSO) and is composed of federal workers who employ their expertise to help restore stability in fragile states. The CRC’s purpose is to provide rapid deployment of subject-matter experts to support conflict prevention and stabilization in countries in crisis or emerging from conflict.

CRC members include law enforcement officers, economists, development specialists, engineers, diplomats, and lawyers. Activities for deployed CRC members include conducting conflict assessments, running field offices, engaging in negotiations, working as a planner in a civil-military unit, creating or leading training exercises, and capturing best practices and lessons learned. The CRC can offer lawyers the opportunity to practice international law, engage in rule of law development, security sector strengthening, good governance advising, and provide mediation or negotiation expertise in a conflict setting.

The CRC has two components, Active and Standby; like the military has active and reserve components.  Active members must be able to deploy within 48 hours of notification, spend 8 weeks a year in training, and can expect to remain abroad for 3-6 months each year. Standby members must be able to deploy within 30 days of notification and participate in 2 weeks of training each year.

Active members are hired on 2-year contracts, and standby members must stay on for a minimum of 2 years. All Active and Standby members are federal employees, and typically return to their jobs in their home agencies once their deployment ends. Deployments are unaccompanied, meaning your family cannot accompany you, and take place in harsh and dangerous environments. CRC members must have security and medical clearances.

Participating federal agencies contributing CRC members include: Department of State, Department of Justice, Department of Agriculture, Department of Commerce, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Transportation, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Energy, and the US Agency for International Development.

The CRC is a unique and exciting opportunity for lawyers to acquire international field experience, particularly those with foreign language skills and an interest in conflict prevention and stabilization. Active and Standby members who are lawyers have worked on rule of law and judicial reform projects around the world, including in Mexico, Somalia, DRC, Haiti, Pakistan, and Afghanistan.

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