Working for the Maricopa County Office of the Public Defender offers a collaborative and supportive work environment in the heart of the fifth largest metropolitan area in the country, while providing competitive pay with a low cost of living. Additionally, because our office is a part of the County’s workforce, we have excellent benefits and County-wide programs to encourage overall health and well-being. Our office is also committed to creating a culture of conviviality, where you can participate in outside the office activities like hikes, service projects, and picnics and in-office activities like potlucks and take your child to work day. Working for our office means you will be able to participate in the meaningful work of protecting people’s constitutional rights and delivering America’s promise of justice for all.
For attorneys, we offer student loan repayment up to $72,000 over a lifetime ($600 per month), ethical caseloads, over 225 attorneys in the office to work with and learn from, the ability to get felony trial work from the start of your career, and special interest divisions including: appeals, capital, juveniles tried as adults, mental health, rehabilitative courts, sex crimes, and white collar. You will be able to work where your interest and strengths are while receiving excellent training in litigation and case management to build your skills as an advocate.
Access job opportunities with Maricopa County to review positions within the Office of the Public Defender.
Externships give current law students:
- Exposure to the work environment of a public defender office
- Opportunity to observe and assist in legal proceedings
- Ability to contribute to the work of a criminal defense team
- Some of the same responsibilities as full time personnel
You work with attorneys on a range of cases, gaining experience in both trial and appellate practice. You will:
- Research legal issues
- Write legal memoranda
- Draft & edit pleadings
- Review case files
- Meet with clients both in and out of jail
- Participate in witness interviews
- Assist in trial preparation
- Observe court proceedings
- Attend and assist in trials
- Attend field trips
- Jails and prisons
- Juvenile detention
- Homeless shelters
Clerkships are available to 3L’s and recent law graduates. You will assist attorneys in many aspects of a criminal case, and are available in the trial, appeals, and specialty court divisions at the office. You are assigned to a particular unit and work directly with attorneys in that group.
- Perform legal research
- Draft memoranda and motions
- Assist attorneys in legal proceedings
- Evidentiary hearings
- Attend legal seminars and training workshops
- Attend weekly training sessions on a different criminal law topic
- Become a member of the Arizona Public Defender Association (APDA)
- Attend the APDA annual conference in June
Paid & benefits available.
The Public Defender Clinic is available to ASU Law students for Summer, Fall, and Spring semesters.
- Represent indigent defendants in criminal cases in the Maricopa County Superior & Justice Courts
- Interview clients and witnesses
- Draft motions
- Handle preliminary hearings, plea proceedings, settlement conferences, sentencing, evidentiary hearings, and jury trials
- Receive regular feedback on your verbal and written work from professors, experienced criminal defense attorneys, and sitting Superior Court judges
- Learn, through a clinic course, effective public speaking techniques
- Receive specific training in all aspects of trial including opening statements, closing arguments, direct and cross examination, and voir dire
To apply, you must do so through the Clinic application process at ASU.
The Gideon Fellowship provides a 12-month paid clinical experience beginning the summer before your 3L year, and is available to 2Ls at ASU Law.
You will experience a progression of various indigent defense work through your participation in the Public Defender Clinic, externing at the Maricopa County Office of the Public Defender, and conducting research and writing at the Federal Public Defender’s Office.
The Gideon Fellow is selected through a competitive application process and formally awarded at the Arizona Public Defender Association (APDA) conference in June.
If you are interested, you can learn more and apply on ASU’s website.