Capital Defense Internships and Jobs

The following are internship and job opportunities for law students and recent graduates in offices around the country that are engaged in the defense of death row inmates or capitally-charged defendants. The information provided below is submitted by the offices listed. The Berkeley Law Death Penalty Clinic cannot vouch for the reliability of the information submitted by these offices or the quality of the experience you may have as an intern or employee at any of these offices. As with any such opportunities, we encourage you to speak with other students who have worked at the offices in which you are interested, and gather as much information as you can from colleagues and mentors before accepting a position.

Please check back frequently, as new information is posted as we receive it. To submit, remove, or revise a posting, please send an email to

The following list contains Summer 2017 Internship Opportunities and Year-Round Internship Opportunities in the Bay Area.

Summer 2017 Internship Opportunities


The Arizona Capital Representation Project (“Project”) is Arizona ‘s only non-profit capital defense resource center. The Project directly represents indigent inmates who are challenging their convictions and death sentences in state and federal court. The Project also provides training seminars, resource materials and consultation to capital defense attorneys representing clients at every legal stage from pretrial through clemency proceedings. The Project accepts full-time interns during the summer and part-time interns during the school year. Duties of the intern may include investigating capital cases, researching and writing on capital litigation issues, fund-raising for the Project, coordinating capital defense training seminars and consulting with clients at the state prison. The internship is open to 2Ls and 3Ls who have demonstrated an interest in public service, human rights, and/or social justice issues. Prior coursework in criminal law is preferred. Interested students should send a resume, writing sample and cover letter to Emily Skinner at We accept applications on a rolling basis.  For further information, please visit

The Capital Habeas Unit of the Office of the Federal Public Defender for the District of Arizona has a satellite office in Salt Lake City which provides representation for six of the eight inmates currently sentenced to death in the state of Utah. The office’s mission is to ensure the right to effective assistance of counsel–as guaranteed by the United States Constitution and the Criminal Justice Act–to those who are unable to afford retained counsel and other necessary defense services. Students who work in the Capital Habeas Unit will have the opportunity to contribute to this mission while they develop their legal research and writing skills. They may contribute to appellate briefs, and may have the opportunity to assist with the representation of clients who are under an immediate warrant of execution, as well as conducting specific research tasks. Applicants must have a demonstrated commitment to indigent defense, along with strong research and writing skills. For consideration, please submit a cover letter, resume, and legal writing sample to David Christensen at  We fill positions on a rolling basis. For additional information, please email Mr. Christensen or call (801) 524-6043.


The Capital Habeas Unit of the Federal Defender for the Eastern District of California, located in Sacramento, offers full-time internships for law students.  The CHU represents California death row inmates in federal court habeas corpus proceedings.  Students may perform legal research, review documents, draft pleadings, and assist in investigation. The duration of the internship is 10 weeks and is unpaid.  1Ls, 2Ls and 3Ls are all welcome to apply; assignments will vary with background and experience.  Preference is given to students with a demonstrated commitment to capital defense, post-conviction work, and/or indigent criminal defense. Applications each year will be accepted beginning in November and through the end of February. To apply, please send a cover letter, resume, two references and a writing sample to or

The Capital Habeas Unit of the Federal Public Defender for the Central District of California offers full-time, unpaid summer clerkships for law students. Over the course of ten weeks, law students will work closely with lawyers who are challenging their clients’ death sentences in state and federal habeas proceedings. Summer law clerks help write petitions and district court and appellate briefs. They also attend federal court trials and hearings. Interested students should email a cover letter, resume, brief writing sample, and unofficial transcript to Michael Weinstein at Strong research and writing skills are mandatory; special preference is given to students with a demonstrated commitment to social justice issues. Hiring decisions are made on a rolling basis, and the office is currently accepting applications from 1Ls and 2Ls.

District of Columbia

The ABA Death Penalty Due Process Review Project hires law students for both academic year and summer internships. Applications are considered on a rolling basis and start/end dates are flexible.  The American Bar Association is the largest voluntary professional association in the world, with more than 400,000 members. The ABA provides law school accreditation, continuing legal education, information about the law, programs to assist lawyers and judges in their work, and initiatives to improve the legal system for the public. The mission of the ABA is to be the national representative of the legal profession, serving the public and the profession by promoting justice, professional excellence and respect for the law. The ABA’s Death Penalty Due Process Review Project (“Project”) conducts research and educates the public and decision-makers on the operation of capital jurisdictions’ death penalty laws and processes in order to promote fairness and accuracy in death penalty systems. The Project encourages adoption of the ABA’s Protocols on the Fair Administration of the Death Penalty; assists state, federal, and international stakeholders on death penalty issues; and collaborates with other individuals and organizations to develop new initiatives to support reform of death penalty processes. Through creation and support of the Project, the ABA recognizes that it is incumbent upon lawyers – as a profession – to ensure that we are carrying out our work justly and competently, particularly when a life is at stake. The Project is housed within the ABA’s Section of Civil Rights and Social Justice (“CRSJ”), which was created in 1966 to provide leadership within the ABA and the legal profession in protecting and advancing human rights, civil liberties, and social justice. The Section fulfills that role by raising and addressing often complex and difficult civil rights and civil liberties issues in a changing and diverse society; and ensuring that protection of individual rights remains a focus of legal and policy decisions. Law clerks will be responsible for conducting legal research and outreach for major updates on the state Death Penalty Assessments, ABA amicus curiae briefs in death penalty cases, and other Project Initiatives related to capital punishment and criminal justice reform. Law clerks also will likely draft correspondence, legislative proposals, public education materials, blog posts summarizing legal developments, and even work on new ABA policy statements and reports related to the death penalty. Attendance at and writing briefing memos on relevant hearings, conferences, and/or oral arguments will be encouraged. Law clerks are encouraged to attend and participate in Project meetings or events, as well as those of CRSJ. The Project is small and relies greatly on the contributions of law clerks and interns to complete its work, however there may be also opportunities to work on other non-death penalty related projects for CRSJ, if the law clerk is interested. Ideal applicants are current law students or LLM candidates who possess strong research and writing skills, are able to independently handle demanding assignments, and have a demonstrated interest in the death penalty, criminal justice, civil rights, and/or public policy advocacy. We look for applicants who are committed to public interest law upon graduation and have already completed at least one year of law school. The Project staff would be happy to assist candidates with obtaining course credit or externship credit for their contributions. Internships are available year-round and applications are accepted until positions are filled. Candidates should email a resume, a brief writing sample (less than 10 pages), and a cover letter detailing the candidate’s interest in working for the Project to: Misty Thomas, Director, at The cover letter should also include the days and hours during the week that the candidate is available to work.  For more information, visit

The American Bar Association’s Death Penalty Representation Project was created in 1986. In the past 30 years, the Project has worked to raise awareness about the lack of representation available to death row prisoners, to address this urgent need by recruiting competent volunteer attorneys, and to offer these volunteers training and assistance. The Project also works toward systemic changes in the criminal justice system that would assure those individuals facing a possible death sentence are represented at all stages of the proceedings, from trial through clemency, by qualified, adequately compensated counsel. The Project’s Legal Internship Program gives law students the opportunity to play a significant role in the day-to-day work of the Project.  Internship projects may include:

  1. Legal research: Legal interns conduct legal research on a variety of topics related to capital punishment and representation to assist the Director and staff attorney in their work.
  2. Policy research: The Project promotes systemic change in the capital defense system. Legal interns research state and federal statutory law in relation to the appointment of counsel, standards, compensation, and procedure.
  3. Case summaries: The Project recruits volunteer lawyers to represent indigent prisoners on death row. Legal interns research the cases of unrepresented prisoners and prepare summaries for potential volunteers.
  4. Attorney Resources: The Project maintains a library of online resources for attorneys representing capital defendants. Legal interns assist with the maintenance and development of these resources, including an ongoing publication that summarizes all court opinions citing to the ABA Guidelines.
  5. Prisoner letters: The Project receives hundreds of letters from inmates requesting assistance. Legal interns assist with responding to these requests and locating outside resources for prisoners that the Project is unable to assist.
  6. Newsletter: The Project publishes a quarterly newsletter that is distributed to thousands of contacts throughout the legal community. Interns propose and write content for the Project Press.
  7. Other duties as assigned: Interns are encouraged to explore areas of interest to them while interning at the Project, and creativity and initiative are highly valued. Interns are expected to be self-starters, motivated, and interested in contributing significantly to the Project and its mission.

The Legal Internship Program is for a law student for a minimum of one semester or one summer. Interns work a flexible part-time schedule during the fall and spring semesters (15-20 hours) and full-time during the summer. This is an unpaid position, but students may seek academic credit. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis. To apply, please send a cover letter, resume, short writing sample, and three references electronically to

The mission of the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty is to end the death penalty in the US and supporting efforts worldwide. Specifically, legal interns will support the organization in implementing its national advocacy campaign to end the death penalty as well as in supporting local efforts to urge passage of legislation or other policy changes that would reform, repeal or otherwise reduce executions and death sentences. Duties include substantive legal and legislative research and writing. Legal interns perform legal and policy research; draft memoranda on current law, proposed legislation, and recent state and federal judicial opinions; research and write testimony for legislative committees; and conduct research and write on case-specific initiatives as well as issue advocacy campaigns. Applicants should note in his or her cover letter any special interest or experience in issues relevant to the position, including past anti-death penalty or broader criminal justice reform knowledge and experience as well as any direct experience working on capital or criminal justice cases. Qualifications: Currently enrolled in law school, or recently graduated, bar pending; excellent research and writing skills; attention to detail; ability to draft succinct and comprehensive legal memoranda; knowledge of the legislative process and political campaigns; and working knowledge and familiarity with social media tools including Facebook and Twitter are a plus. Please submit resume, cover letter and legal writing sample along with three references (ideally including a reference from someone who can comment on your legal writing and research abilities) to Delphine Nihoul at Please include LEGAL INTERN in the subject line. Note your availability including preferred start and end dates as well as any limitations you may have to working regular full-time hours.  No phone calls please. Positions are available year-round and applications will be reviewed on an ongoing basis. The National Coalition is an equal opportunity employer, and people of color, women and LGBTQ persons are encouraged to apply.


The Georgia Resource Center (GRC) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit law office in Atlanta dedicated to providing free, high-quality representation to death-sentenced men and women in their state and federal habeas and clemency proceedings. GRC is responsible for ensuring that all of Georgia’s death-sentenced prisoners have meaningful and vigorous representation at this critical stage of death penalty case review. Interns directly assist in all aspects of GRC’s work, including interviewing witnesses, compiling life histories, visiting clients, conducting legal research, and drafting memos and briefs. Interns often have the opportunity to attend court proceedings, such as state-court evidentiary hearings and oral arguments before the Georgia Supreme Court and Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals. We seek highly-motivated, public-interest-oriented law students with a passion for indigent defense and human rights to be our summer interns. Previous experience working with prisoners or individuals with mental health issues is a plus, as is professional experience prior to law school. Applications should be submitted by email All applications should include a cover letter, resume, writing sample, and a list of references. Applications for summer 2017 internships will be accepted until February 24, 2017, but interns will be hired on a rolling basis beginning in November 2016. For more information about GRC, please visit our website at

Located in Atlanta, the Southern Center for Human Rights is one of the nation’s leading organizations devoted to indigent defense and protection of human rights in the criminal justice system. SCHR accepts summer interns to work throughout its practice areas, which include capital representation and civil rights litigation. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis. It is suggested, however, that 2Ls get their applications in during September because the positions fill up quickly. Applications from both 1Ls and 2Ls are welcome. Applications should include a cover letter, resume, writing sample, and list of references. They should be submitted by e-mail to Atteeyah Hollie at  Click here for more information.


The Federal Defender Services of Idaho is accepting applications from first-and second-year law students for a summer legal clerkship position with the Capital Habeas Unit for Summer 2017.  The Capital Habeas Unit, located in Boise, Idaho, represents individuals under a state sentence of death in Idaho, California and Nevada. Law Interns assist attorneys and investigators at all stages of client representation, including interviewing clients and witnesses, reviewing and organizing discovery materials, researching federal constitutional and criminal law issues, and investigating and preparing cases for pleadings, hearings and/or trial. Law Interns will have opportunities throughout their internship to observe criminal trials and hearings of Federal Defender staff. This is an unpaid internship that begins on June 4, 2017 and ends on August 11, 2017. Housing is not provided. The Capital Habeas Unit is located in Boise, Idaho, and is comprised of three assistant federal defenders, a research and writing attorney, and three investigators. Working in a smaller office allows our interns to get one on one time with the attorneys and to be extremely involved with the case teams. Boise is a small, but culturally rich community with amazing outdoor activities and events during the summer. To apply, please forward a letter of interest, resume, a short writing sample, and two references to Deborah Czuba at Students are encouraged to apply any time between October 15, 2016, and March 1, 2017. However, earlier applications are usually the most successful. Limited positions are available. People of color and other minorities underrepresented in the legal profession are especially encouraged to apply.


The Capital Post-Conviction Project of Louisiana (CPCPL) represents indigent, death-sentence men and women in Louisiana.  CPCPL teams provide direct representation in capital habeas proceedings.  Through investigation, discovery, and our work with experts, we uncover exculpatory and mitigating facts that have ultimately resulted in new trials, exonerations, and pleas to lesser sentences.  Since 2011, CPCPL has won two cases in the United States Supreme Court and has reached a number of negotiated settlements. The CPCPL internship program gives volunteer interns diverse work experiences, ranging from legal research and writing to in-the-field investigation.  In addition to summer internships, CPCPL also accepts interns during the fall and spring.  Applicants may apply at any time and should email a resume, cover letter detailing why they would like to intern at CPCPL, a writing sample, and a list of three references to Jane Eggers,, or send the letter, writing sample, and list of references to Jane Eggers, Capital Post-Conviction Project of Louisiana, 1340 Poydras Street, Suite 1700, New Orleans, LA, 70112.

The Louisiana Capital Assistance Center (LCAC) is soliciting applications for a two year fellowship position designed for junior attorneys with less than three years experience in criminal work. The intent of the fellowship is to provide less experienced attorneys with an intense and in-depth introduction into all aspects of a capital defense practice. Fellows will participate in researching and drafting legal filings, factual and mitigation investigation, record gathering, client visitation, case team meetings, case management, court preparation and office-wide strategic discussions. Fellows should expect to work long hours and face high expectations. The LCAC is a non-profit public interest law firm founded in New Orleans in 1993, with offices in New Orleans and Shreveport, Louisiana. The LCAC represents indigent defendants in capital cases – primarily at trial, but also on direct appeal, in state post-conviction and in federal habeas proceedings.  We represent clients in Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas and in federal cases. In recent years, the LCAC has been at the cutting edge of capital defense litigation, particularly in areas such as prosecutorial misconduct, racial and religious discrimination, adequate indigent defense funding and the capital prosecution of those with serious mental impairments.   In the context of its casework, the LCAC pursues impact litigation in critical areas so as to advance the position of indigent capital defendants more generally. The LCAC emphasizes excellence and creativity in capital practice as well as making the client the center of all efforts in the case. The intended start date for the position is September 2017, though there is some flexibility. Interested applicants should provide the following by email to Christine Lehmann at CV, writing sample, law school transcript, and contact information on three references.  Applicants must be barred in Louisiana or willing to take the next Louisiana bar exam. The position is open until filled but motivated applicants should aim to submit materials as soon as possible. More information about LCAC can be found at The LCAC is an equal opportunity employer.


Advancing Real Change (ARC), Inc. provides comprehensive life history investigation for indigent clients facing the most severe penalties. We currently work on death penalty and juvenile life cases. Those who face criminal charges in our court systems confront tremendous dehumanization, often presented as nothing more than their crimes. The goal of life history investigation – often referred to as mitigation investigation – is to break this narrative by developing an accurate, multi-dimensional account of the accused’s life, including investigating the circumstances of the offense. ARC, Inc. is based in Baltimore, MD and works on cases throughout the country. We are seeking an intern to assist with gathering, reviewing and summarizing historical documents, conducting legal research, and providing administrative support. Start/end dates are flexible, and the internship may be full- or part-time, with a minimum of 20 hours per week. To apply, please send a cover letter and resume to

The Federal Capital Habeas Project, a program of the Federal Public Defender System, is currently accepting applications from law students for a Summer Intern position in its Greenbelt, Maryland office, located fifteen miles from the heart of downtown Washington, DC. The Project was started in 2006 to provide litigation and other support to lawyers for the growing number of prisoners on federal death row. Its aim is to ensure that all individuals sentenced to death in federal court who have completed their direct appeals receive representation consistent with the highest standards of the legal profession during post-conviction and clemency proceedings. More information about the Project can be found at our website Students will have the opportunity to work closely with the Project’s attorneys on federal death penalty cases across the country, on research and writing assignments related to both substantive and procedural issues of federal capital habeas law, and on assignments related to mitigation, mental health, and forensic evidence. The differences between the state and federal (§ 2255) habeas statutes and the breadth of the federal capital jurisdiction lend themselves to novel research opportunities for our students.  The ideal candidate will have a strong demonstrated interest in public interest law, ideally criminal defense. Because the internship position is unpaid, students should seek funding and/or credit through their law schools. The intern would ideally work for at least ten weeks during the summer.  Applicants should submit (1) a resume; (2) cover letter; (3) a writing sample; and (4) the names of two professional or academic references, by email to, attention: John P. Nidiry, Staff Attorney, Federal Capital Habeas Project, Federal Public Defender for the District of Maryland, Southern Division, 6411 Ivy Lane, Suite 710, Greenbelt, MD, 20770-4510. Emails are preferred; no telephone calls please. Applications will be accepted through 3/31/17.  The Federal Capital Habeas Project is an Equal Opportunity Employer. Students of color and women are encouraged to apply.

The Federal Public Defender for the District of Maryland handles a steady stream of federal capital trials. Summer interns will likely work on both capital and non-capital cases. Interested students should send a resume and cover letter to Jim Wyda, Federal Public Defender, Office of the Federal Public Defender, 100 South Charles Street, Tower II Suite 1100, Baltimore MD 21201. Internships are generally unpaid. Hiring decisions are made on a rolling basis. The office also accepts internship applications for short periods of time outside of summer months (i.e. winter break, etc.).


The Missouri State Public Defender Capital Division specializes in capital murder cases and represents defendants for whom the state has decided to seek the death penalty. Interns may assist in case preparation for the guilt or penalty phase of the capital murder trial, including reading discovery information and reviewing evidence. Interns with backgrounds in psychology, sociology, or mental health work may particularly enjoy this internship, since the office performs a significant amount of mitigation investigation. Capital offices are located in Columbia, Kansas City, and St. Louis. Applicants attending law school in Missouri should participate in the spring on-campus interview process at their law school. The office also participates in OCI at many other law schools surrounding Missouri. Applicants attending law school in other locations may submit a resume and they will be contacted to schedule a phone interview. Resumes should be received no later than February 15th. Interested students should email a resume to Gina Hall, Human Resources Manager, at Both 1Ls and 2Ls welcome to apply.  All internships are volunteer. Contact Human Resources at  (573)-777-9977, ext. 204 for more information. You can also learn more about MSPD by visiting their website at here.


The Capital Habeas Unit (CHU) of the Office of the Federal Public Defender, District of Nevada, is currently accepting applications from students with a demonstrated interest in capital litigation, criminal defense, or public interest work.  The CHU represents capital defendants from Nevada, California, Arizona, and Texas. We are offering a ten-week unpaid internship to first and second year law students.  During the summer, students will work with a dedicated team of attorneys and investigators assisting them in:  (1) researching and writing arguments for capital pleadings; (2) investigating client cases for newly discovered evidence, Brady evidence, and facts concerning the ineffectiveness of counsel; and (3) visiting clients on death row in Ely, Nevada.  Students may also attend evidentiary hearings in state and/or federal court.  Interested applicants should send a letter of interest, resume, list of references, unofficial transcript, and a representative writing sample to Brad Levenson at The deadline to apply is March 30, 2017.

New York

The NAACP Legal Defense Fund hires summer interns in their Criminal Justice Project, which includes representation of capital and non-capital clients. Most of these cases are in the habeas stage. The internship is unpaid and lasts 10 weeks. Students assist with all aspects of cases, including legal research, memo writing, drafting portions of briefs, working on clemency issues, developing claims, and conducting investigation. 1Ls and 2Ls are welcome to apply; applications should include a cover letter, resume, list of references, and a writing sample. Decisions are made on a rolling basis, but are generally made between October and February. See their website for the addresses to which applications should be sent.

North Carolina

Each summer, the Center for Death Penalty Litigation hosts up to four full-time law student interns. Each year, we receive rave reviews from our summer interns. Former interns consistently remark on the diversity of opportunities, the rigorous intellectual environment, and the collegiality of our office. In recent summers, law student interns have visited clients, traveled across the state interviewing witnesses and jurors, worked on clemency cases, assisted with research and writing of direct appeal and post-conviction claims, attended capital trials, and assisted at evidentiary hearings. We eagerly recruit both 1Ls and 2Ls to fill our summer intern positions. Because of the nature of the work our students perform, we typically do not allow split summers and we prefer that all interns begin work on the same date.  Further, we ask each intern to commit to a 10 week program, usually beginning the first work-day of June. Most summers, CDPL is able to offer interns monetary compensation for their work through the Weston Fenhagen Fellowship. Students interested in a summer internship should provide the following by January 31: 1) Cover letter clearly articulating the applicant’s interest in death penalty defense or criminal defense work 2) Current resume 3) Writing sample of 10 pages or less 4) Phone numbers and email addresses for three references, including at least one person familiar with your skills and abilities in a professional setting. We prefer that applications be submitted electronically whenever possible. Applications should be emailed to Our goal is to make final hiring decisions by February 28. CDPL complies with the letter and spirit of all federal, state, and local employment discrimination laws and does not discriminate based on race, age, color, sex, religion, national origin, marital status, family responsibility, sexual orientation, veteran status or disability.

For nearly 100 years, the ACLU has been our nation’s guardian of liberty, working in courts, legislatures, and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties that the Constitution and the laws of the United States guarantee everyone in this country. Whether it’s achieving full equality for the LGBT community, establishing new privacy protections for our digital age, ending mass incarceration, or preserving the right to vote or the right to have an abortion, the ACLU takes up the toughest civil liberties cases and issues to defend all people from government abuse and overreach. With more than a million members, activists, and supporters, the ACLU is a nationwide organization that fights tirelessly in all 50 states, Puerto Rico, and Washington, D.C., for the principle that every individual’s rights must be protected equally under the law, regardless of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, disability or national origin. The Capital Punishment Project (CPP) of the ACLU’s National Office in Durham, N.C. seeks applicants for its Summer 2017 Legal Internship. A stipend is available for those students who do not receive outside funding and/or course credit. Arrangements can be made with the student’s school for a work/study stipend or course credit. The Capital Punishment Project, part of the ACLU’s Center for Justice, challenges the unfairness and arbitrariness of capital punishment while working toward the ultimate goal of abolishing the death penalty. The Project engages in public advocacy and strategic litigation, including direct representation of capital defendants. The Project’s litigation is conducted throughout the country, with a particular focus on the South. Interns will have the opportunity to work on all aspects of litigation. The internship is full-time and typically requires a 10 week commitment. Interns will have the opportunity to gain valuable experience by working alongside the CPP team on the following: conducting legal and policy research; drafting memoranda, affidavits and briefs; researching prospects for new litigation, including both factual and legal claims; and researching and drafting materials for public education. This Internship is open to law students who will have completed their first semester of law school before the internship commences. Interns should possess the following:

• Excellent research, writing and communication skills.
• Proficiency in Microsoft Office Suite, and conducting internet research.
• The initiative to see projects through to completion.
• Interest in the abolition of the death penalty.
• A commitment to civil liberties, civil rights and social justice.

Please send a cover letter, describing your interest in capital punishment reform and civil liberties, including any relevant life or work experience gained before or during law school; a resume; a short writing sample (no more than 10 pages in length); and a list of three references to Reference [CPP Summer 2017 Legal Internship/ACLU-W] in the subject line. Please note that this is not the general ACLU applicant email address. This email address is specific to Capital Punishment Project postings. In order to ensure your application is received please make certain it is sent to the correct e-mail address. Please indicate in your cover letter where you learned of this internship opportunity. Students are encouraged to submit applications as early as possible, as decisions are made on a rolling basis.


The Capital Habeas Unit (CHU) in the Columbus, Ohio branch of the Office of the Federal Public Defender for the Southern District of Ohio offers summer and school-year externship opportunities.  The CHU represents inmates on Ohio’s death row in all levels of federal court litigation and also argues for clemency before the Ohio Parole Board and to Ohio’s governor.  The legal work concerns the exciting and challenging intersection of constitutional law, death-penalty jurisprudence, and habeas and civil-rights litigation; factual investigation involves digging into records and witnesses related to clients’ social histories, including their upbringing, education, and other factors relevant to their development.  The CHU works closely with experts in a variety of areas, including neurology, psychology, psychiatry, forensics, DNA, mental-health, addiction, and intellectual disability.  The office operates in teams of attorneys, investigators, and support staff to tackle this demanding and sobering work.  Externs work closely with these teams to assist in both legal and factual research and drafting related to the clients’ cases.  CHU teams rely on externs’ assistance on real projects for real clients and aim to involve the externs as much as possible from start to finish on a project.  For more information about the program, please visit our website at: The CHU seeks externs with sound judgment, the ability to work independently, excellent research and writing skills, and a strong commitment to indigent defense and saving clients’ lives.  While full-time externs are preferred, students who will have completed their first year of law school may apply to extern for a minimum 20 hours per week during the summer and for a minimum of 12 hours per week during the school year.  The positions are unpaid, but externs are free to seek funding through work-study or other public-interest programs, as well as class hours or other applicable credit at their law schools.  To apply electronically, send a cover letter, resume, writing sample, and transcript to attorneys Erin Barnhart ( and Justin Thompson (  To apply via hard copy, mail these materials to:  CHU Extern Coordinators, Federal Public Defender––Southern District of Ohio, One Columbus, 10 West Broad Street, Suite 1020, Columbus, Ohio 43215-3469.  The CHU considers applications on a rolling basis until positions are filled, and likely will hold interviews for Summer 2017 positions in February 2017.  Applicants offered an externship will be subject to a background check as required under the current policy for the Administrative Office of the United States Courts.

South Carolina

The Capital Trial Division of the South Carolina Commission on Indigent Defense is an office charged with meeting the high standards of capital defense demanded by federal and state constitutions. We are looking for interns that are interested in criminal defense and/or working with indigent clients from all backgrounds who come from families with a history of poverty, abuse, and mental health problems. Throughout the course of the summer, you will be working directly with the attorneys in our office. You will be:

  • Meeting and interviewing clients, making sure they have all the necessary information to answer their various legal questions
  • Meeting and interviewing potential mitigation witnesses to assist the defense team in putting together a comprehensive life history of the client
  • Researching and preparing memos for attorneys concerning particular legal questions, such as the viability of a particular defense or admissibility of a particular piece of evidence
  • Investigating data necessary for some systemic challenges to the Death Penalty (which will include going to clerks’ offices around the state and gathering information on all jury strikes and/or murder cases for the last decade)
  • Attending court and assisting as necessary

This is an unpaid internship but students will be reimbursed for all travel expenses they incur including mileage at the federal rate. Interested students should submit a cover letter and resume by e-mail to Boyd Young, Deputy Director at We accept applications on a rolling basis until spots are filled.


The Tennessee Office of the Post-Conviction Defender (OPCD) in Nashville provides legal representation to indigent death-sentenced inmates in post-conviction and other collateral proceedings throughout the state of Tennessee. The OPCD invites law students to apply for full-time, unpaid summer internships for a ten-week period. The OPCD is flexible in establishing work schedules that are tailored to the interests and availability of the individual interns. Our interns assist attorneys in all stages of client representation including:

  • researching constitutional, criminal and civil rights issues;
  • interviewing witnesses and visiting clients on death row;
  • reviewing and organizing records and discovery materials;
  • consulting with expert witnesses; and
  • preparing cases for pleadings, evidentiary hearings and appellate arguments.

Interns will also have to opportunity to attend court proceedings throughout the state of Tennessee, tour the Medical Examiner’s Office and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Crime Laboratory, and participate in trainings on capital punishment, criminal defense and career development. People of color and other minorities underrepresented in the legal profession are especially encouraged to apply. Interested students should e-mail a cover letter addressing your interest in capital defense, a resume, an unofficial law school transcript (if available), and a brief writing sample to Andrew Harris ( and Jonathan King ( Applicants are encouraged to apply early as internships are competitive and filled on a rolling basis.

The Capital Habeas Unit of the Office of the Federal Public Defender for the Middle District of Tennessee in Nashville offers full-time, unpaid summer internships for law students.  The CHU represents Tennessee death row inmates in federal habeas corpus proceedings.  Interns will perform legal research, draft substantive legal documents, and assist in investigation.  Interns will also have exposure to non-capital federal public defense work, in which indigent clients are facing federal criminal charges.  Students may participate in pre-trial motion practice, trial assistance and observation, and legal work related to sentencing.  Dates are flexible and we are willing to host students who intend to split their summers at other organizations.  Assignments will vary with background and experience.  Preference is given to students with a demonstrated commitment to indigent criminal defense and/or public interest work.  Applications may be submitted at anytime, however, we encourage students to apply as soon as possible as we review applications on a rolling basis.  To apply, please send a cover letter, resume, law school transcript, and writing sample to Alexis J. Hoag, Attorney, Capital Habeas Unit, Office of the Federal Public Defender, 810 Broadway, Suite 200, Nashville, TN 37203 or


The Bexar County Public Defender’s Office represents clients on direct appeal and in petitions of certiorari to the U.S. Supreme Court. Student interns perform legal research and writing, and investigation. Interns also observe trials and hearings and visit the local jail and may have contact with clients. Year-round and summer internship opportunities are available. The internship is unpaid, but the office is flexible in the schedule and duration of the internship. Rising 2Ls are encouraged to apply; the office is looking for interns with a demonstrated interest in criminal law, indigent defense, or related areas. Applicants should send a cover letter, resume, recent writing sample, and a list of at least two references to Lori Olenick Rodriguez, Senior Assistant Public Defender, Bexar County Public Defender’s Office, Heritage Plaza, 410 South Main, Suite 214, San Antonio, TX 78204. Applications are considered as received. For more information about the office or the internship, please feel free to contact Lori at

The Capital (Death Penalty) Division at the University of Houston’s Texas Innocence Network is accepting applications from first- and second-year law students for summer legal clerkship positions for Summer 2017.  This unpaid summer clerkship requires a five- or ten-week commitment.  The Texas Innocence Network is located at the University of Houston Law Center and provides direct representations to Texas death-sentenced inmates in their state/federal habeas appeals and clemency proceedings.  TIN attorneys rely largely on student interns to conduct the exhaustive investigations necessary to develop the claims raised in these proceedings.  The Capital Division also responds to requests from inmates who have been denied relief in their habeas proceedings and for whom an execution date is imminent.  In these “crisis cases,” TIN attorneys and interns work tirelessly to identify and develop potential claims in an attempt to stop the execution.  The Capital Division also provides research and investigative support for other attorneys representing Texas death row inmates.   To apply for a summer internship, please submit a cover letter, resume, writing sample, and transcript to Cassandra Jeu by March 1, 2017.  Materials may be sent via email to or by mail to Texas Innocence Network, 4604 Calhoun Rd., Houston TX  77204-6060. 

The Gulf Region Advocacy Center represents and assists in the representation of defendants charged with capital crimes. Most interns spend a large amount of time collecting records and digesting documents. More experienced interns may help with research and writing motions. If there is a trial during the internship, an intern will mostly likely be involved in preparing for trial and providing support for the lawyers and mitigation specialists. The office accepts rising 2Ls and 3Ls as interns. Internships are unpaid. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis and may be submitted by email to or by mail to Gulf Region Advocacy Center, 2307 Union Street, Houston TX 77007. For more information, contact Jeremiah Sierra at or call (713)869-4722.

The Office of Capital and Forensic Writs (OCFW) seeks bright and motivated law students interested in capital defense for full-time summer clerkships, term-time intern/externships, pro bono volunteer law clerks, and postgraduate fellowships. The OCFW is a statewide public defender office located in Austin, Texas that represents death-sentenced persons in their state post-conviction litigation.  Our office represents a substantial majority of persons sentenced to death in Texas in state post-conviction proceedings, and is committed to client-centered and excellent post-conviction representation. This is an extraordinary opportunity to make a difference in Texas. As post-conviction counsel, attorneys and clerks at the OCFW have the privilege of investigating constitutional violations that have occurred at the trial level, including issues at both the guilt/innocence and punishment phases of trial.  Depending on what needs to be done in our cases, clerks should expect to do several of the following tasks: locate and interview witnesses; conduct legal research and draft pleadings; locate, obtain, and organize records; read and digest transcripts; and visit and interview clients. We expect our interns to be committed, work hard, have fun, and learn a great deal. As OCFW’s clients and witnesses are located outside of the Austin area, our interns are often asked to travel throughout Texas.  Preferred qualifications include a demonstrated interest in indigent defense, knowledge of criminal and constitutional law, excellent research and writing skills, commitment to culturally competent representation, and interest in working with diverse populations.  Spanish-speaking ability is also a plus.  People of color and persons from backgrounds that are underrepresented in the legal profession are especially encouraged to apply. Clerkships and fellowships are unpaid, however the OCFW will work with applicants to obtain academic credit, funding through their law school, or funding from other sources.  To apply, please email a letter of interest and resume to Applications are accepted on a rolling basis.

The Texas Defender Service (TDS) seeks talented law students committed to capital defense work to serve as summer law clerks in its Austin and Houston offices.  TDS attorneys work to ensure that defendants charged with capital murder receive the best possible representation at the pre-trial, trial, and post-conviction stage of the case.  TDS lawyers and mitigation specialists regularly consult with defense teams on trial strategies, legal briefing, mitigation investigation, preparing to present or challenge forensic evidence and expert witnesses, voir dire, and other issues that arise during the pre-trial and trial stages. Additionally, TDS lawyers and mitigation specialists work on post-conviction litigation and consulting, and attorneys often act as lead counsel in federal habeas corpus litigation.  TDS also has a policy division committed to achieving critical reforms in the Texas criminal justice system.  To elevate the level of defense representation across the state, TDS regularly organizes and provides trainings to attorneys, mitigation specialists, and investigators in Texas. TDS seeks summer law students for full-time internships to assist in all aspects of TDS’s work.  Summer law interns must be capable of performing both high-level legal research and briefing along with ground-level intensive investigative work.  When possible, students will also attend local trainings, trials and oral arguments.  Students will receive training on how to conduct mitigation investigation in capital cases both in preparation for trial and post-conviction briefing.  They will receive regular feedback throughout the summer on both written and investigative work. Applicants must be enrolled in a J.D. or L.L.M. program.  Preference will be given to 2L students, but TDS will consider applications from 1Ls.  Preference will also be given to students enrolled in capital or criminal defense clinics, and to students with fluency in Spanish. Candidates must possess excellent oral and written communication skills, interpersonal skills, and the ability to work well with others in a team-based approach.  Representing inmates charged with the death penalty or who are already on death row is vital and fascinating work, but it is generally not popular.  TDS requires interns to have a firm belief in the need for unflinching, partisan advocacy on behalf of all indigent persons facing or under a sentence of death.  Internships are unpaid, but TDS will provide any necessary documentation or assistance in applications for scholarships or fellowships. To apply: Please send a cover letter, resume, transcript, writing sample, a list of two references, and your preferred location (Austin or Houston).  Please send the above materials to: Jessica Brand 510 South Congress Street Suite 510, Austin, TX 78704.  The application deadline is April 1st, 2017.

The Regional Public Defender for Capital Cases represents clients charged with capital crimes at the trial level in approximately 163 counties throughout Texas.  Currently we have offices in Amarillo, Corpus Christi, Lubbock, Midland, Burnet, Clute, Wichita Falls, and Terrell.  Interns are utilized for a wide variety of tasks, including collecting and digesting records and documents; research; drafting motions; assisting attorneys, mitigators and investigators with client and witness interviews; trial preparation assistance; and, team support during trial. Internships are unpaid.  Applications are accepted and reviewed at any time.  Applications may be submitted by e-mail to or by mail to the Regional Public Defender for Capital Cases, P. O. Box 2097, Lubbock, Texas 79408.  For more information feel free to visit our website or contact Edward Ray Keith, Jr. at (806) 775-1520. 


The Federal Public Defender of the Eastern District of Virginia represents indigent defendants accused of federal offenses ranging from misdemeanors to capital murder. Interns have the unique opportunity to receive hands-on experience in the preparation of the defense of criminal cases in federal court. They may be asked to conduct legal research and/or, draft motions, memoranda, and appellate briefs. They also might be asked to assist with factual investigation, trial preparation (including client/witness interviews and help with case-planning strategy), and sentencing matters. Moreover, interns are encouraged to attend court proceedings. Interns are assigned to work directly with one or more AFPDs, who along with the Federal Public Defender, will supervise their work. They will receive informal feedback from their attorneys, and, if requested, a formal evaluation of their performance at the end of the term. Interns also may be invited to attend informal lectures on criminal practice. All interns are expected to commit to working a specific number of hours per week. Approximately fifteen to twenty (15-20) hours per week is the norm during the school year, and approximately forty (40) hours per week for the summer months. Law students of any year may apply for an internship, but preference will be given to second and third year students. Interns will be selected on the basis of their past work or school experiences, their desire to work in this Office, their demonstrated level of maturity and competence, as well as the level of commitment they are prepared to make to the work of the Office. Persons interested in applying for a legal intern position must complete the attached application and submit it, along with: current resume, writing sample, official or unofficial law school transcript, and cover letter (as described in the application). All application materials should be forwarded to the office (or offices) in which the applicant is interested in working:

  • Alexandria: Kenneth Troccoli, AFPD, (703) 600-0870,
  • Richmond: Mary Maguire, AFPD, (804) 565-0860,
  • Norfolk: Lauren Shuman, Research  & Writing Attorney, (757) 457-0865,

Applicants should indicate in which office or offices you would be willing to work, and the amount of time (part-time or full-time) to which you are able to commit to the position. There is no application deadline for school-year internships. The application deadline for summer 2017 internships is February 28, 2017. Applications, including all attachments, must be sent by that date in order to be considered. Please note that school-year and summer intern positions are filled on a rolling admissions basis, meaning that each application sent will be considered as soon as it is complete. Applications may be submitted by mail, fax, or email. If by email, all submitted documents must be part of one PDF file.

The Capital Defender Office of Northern Virginia (CDO) has been providing quality representation to impoverished defendants facing the death penalty since 2003.  The CDO is charged with handling all facets of trial representation for capital cases arising in Virginia’s 22 northern jurisdictions, comprising one of the most active death penalty regions in the Commonwealth.  The CDO seeks highly motivated law students with a commitment to the zealous representation of capital defendants.  Each year, students spend a semester or summer at the CDO completing a variety of assignments under the supervision of experienced staff.  The tasks to be performed are limited only by the ability and willingness of the interns.  Typically, CDO interns research criminal and death penalty law, write legal memoranda, assist in investigating and organizing mitigation evidence, and perform other tasks necessary to aid in the defense of capital clients.  These internships provide an invaluable opportunity to receive direct experience working in the rewarding and challenging field of capital defense.  Interested students should email a resume, transcript, writing sample, and list of references to Daniel Goldman, Deputy Capital Defender, at, and to Ashley Miller, Office Manager, at Application deadline for summer internships is April 1st. The CDO is an equal opportunity employer, equal without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, age, or political affiliation.

Year-Round Internship Opportunities in the Bay Area

The California Appellate Project (CAP) in San Francisco assists in the legal representation of the currently more than 600 persons on California’s Death Row. The selection process for interns is ongoing. To apply, please submit a cover letter, a résumé, a writing sample, and the names and telephone numbers of two references familiar with your skills and experience to Intern responsibilities involve working on issues of general importance to capital litigation: reviewing case records; preparing research memoranda, pleadings, briefs, and other legal documents; client relations; case assistance to appointed panel attorneys; case investigation; preparing training and resource materials; digesting recent case decisions; and participating in the development of litigation strategies. We particularly value experience working with people of backgrounds similar to those of our clients and their communities. Since nearly all of the men and women on California’s death row are from deprived backgrounds, and the majority are people of color, we request that applicants relate how their life experience, training, and work history have prepared them to understand and work well with the clients we serve and their communities.

The Office of the State Public Defender handles capital cases on direct appeal and in state habeas corpus proceedings. The office accepts interns throughout the school year and during the summer. Internships are unpaid, although work study may be available, and 1Ls are welcome to apply. Students work closely with a team of lawyers and investigators, and perform research and writing and assist in investigation. Interested students should send a cover letter, resume, and writing sample to Alison Bernstein, Deputy State Public Defender, 221 Main Street, SF, CA 94105.