Interns, Externs, PostBar
What volunteer opportunities exist in the Public Defender's office?
Partnering directly with skilled attorneys, investigators and social workers, our interns get an inside look into the criminal justice system and criminal defense litigation.
Depending on skill and experience, volunteers may participate in the following opportunities:
- Appear in court each morning
- Learn about public policy, civil rights and social justice
- Analyze scene videos, interview recordings and
- Assist attorneys in trial
- Visit jails and crime scenes
- Conduct legal research, writing and argument
- Attend training on trial skills, mental health, immigration
and other specialty areas
We offer volunteer opportunities in the Fall, Spring and Summer
Fall Application Due Date: August 1st
Spring Application Due Date: December 1st
Summer Application Due Date: May 1st.
If you are interested in volunteering with this office please contact Dee Engler at firstname.lastname@example.org. Application can be downloaded by clicking here. Once downloaded, please email to Dee Engler at the email address listed above.
Volunteers generally fall into these categories:
Undergraduate students. Undergraduate students are offered the opportunity to assist the attorneys in giving skilled individual attention to each of the many people who pass through a very busy first appearance calendar. Undergraduate students also assist in reviewing investigation and discovery information to assist in preparing complex cases for trial.
Law Students. Law student legal interns work closely with deputy public defenders in researching, preparing and helping to present cases. See legal internship application process here.
PostBar/Attorneys. Post Bar Law Clerks and Volunteer Attorneys are given responsibility for a caseload, which may be in a specialty area such as mental health or juvenile. Incomparable training, weekly staff meetings and a close working relationship with staff attorneys assist them to become highly skilled indigent defenders. See Post Bar clerkship application process here.
Student investigators. Student investigators assist our skilled investigators in preparing cases for trial. Investigative tasks may include: reviewing police reports, reviewing and taking pictures, interviewing witnesses, measuring distances, serving subpoenas and reviewing and retrieving documents.
Social work students. Our social workers assist our clients with accessing essential services, such as mental wellness, substance abuse, and housing. Positions are available to those pursuing social work careers to assist our social workers in providing this indispensable assistance.
Other work. On occasion we receive volunteer offers from folks interested in everything from assisting our Investigators to doing clerical support. We are open to such situations and have found them to be mutually rewarding.
Post Bar Law Clerkship and Volunteer Attorney Program
For those who have already been admitted to the California bar, and for graduating law school students who are taking the California Bar Exam, we offer an intense, full time advocacy experience. Those who are offered this distinctive opportunity assist attorneys in every aspect of case preparation and advocate on behalf of misdemeanor clients at all stages of the court proceedings. We are looking for people who are committed to indigent criminal defense. We seek advocates with strong written and oral communication skills, who are dedicated to client-centered representation.
We assist our participants in their transition from the classroom to the courtroom. The program will include trial skills training taught by experienced trial lawyers, as well as training that focuses on the ethics of legal practice, trial advocacy, and a general introduction to criminal defense. Participants may work individually with misdemeanor clients in the trial courts under the supervision of seasoned trial deputy public defenders. Post Bar participants may be paired with a felony trial attorney/mentor and work on complex litigation issues in preparation for trial. It is our expectation that upon completion of the program, participants will have interacted with clients, advocated in court hearings, and written and argued legal motions for the benefit of our clients. We seek to create an environment conducive to learning and gaining as much practical experience as possible.
Participants must be admitted to the bar or certified by the California State Bar for the Practical Training of Legal Students (PTLS, see www.calbar.ca.gov). Bar certification requires: completion of one full year of law school (270 hours) at an American Bar Association (ABA) or State Bar of California accredited law school or passed the First Year Law Student's Exam (FYLSE), completion or enrollment in Evidence and Civil Procedure courses. Post Bar clerks and volunteer lawyers must commit to at least four full days per week, but are not be permitted to work more than 40 hours per week.
Law Student Externship Program
Our legal externship program gives exceptional law students an understanding of the criminal justice system and hands-on experience representing clients. In partnership with staff attorneys, legal externs have a wide range of opportunities, including: writing motions, meeting clients, attending case conferences, reviewing investigation results, and attending consultations with experts. Students certified to practice law pursuant to California Rules of Court, Rule 9.42(c) may also be given the opportunity to argue motions on behalf of clients in court.
We are looking for students who are committed to indigent criminal defense. We seek students with strong written and oral communication skills, who are willing to think like advocates and fight for our clients. We provide training that focuses on ethics of legal practice, trial advocacy, and a general introduction to criminal defense. It is our expectation that upon completion of the program, participants will have interacted with clients, participated in court hearings, researched and written (and potentially argued) legal motions for the benefit of our clients.
Legal externship applicants must be a law school student or a recent law school graduate. All participants in our legal externship programs are required to make a three-day-per-week commitment for the duration of the applicable internship period.
Our internship program gives exceptional undergraduate students an understanding of the criminal justice system. In partnership with staff attorneys, interns have a wide range of opportunities, including: meeting clients, completing pre-arraignment intake interviews with clients, attending case conferences, assisting in organizing and summarizing case discovery.
We are looking for students who are committed to indigent criminal defense. We seek students with strong written and oral communication skill.
All participants in our Internship Programs are required to make a two-day-per-week commitment for the duration of the applicable internship period.
Training: The first three days of each volunteer session include a mandatory training period, which will cover ethical obligations and confidentiality, the principles of client centered representation and holistic defense, and an orientation to our office practices. This training must be completed to participate in any volunteer position.
Diversity. Our office actively seeks volunteers from diverse backgrounds. This includes diversity of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, socioeconomic class, physical abilities, religious beliefs, and political beliefs. We also value and seek applicants who are bilingual and bicultural.
Funding. All post bar, externship and internships are unpaid. Applicants are encouraged to explore the many funding resources available for students interested in public interest internships, including Federal Work Study, Public Interest Work Study, Public Interest Law Foundation Grants, and other grants or fellowships offered by schools and private foundations.