- Public Defender
- Student Opportunities
We offer many opportunities to explore career options, build resumes, network with professionals, and gain hands-on experience through our programs designed for students and recent graduates:
Undergraduate Externship Program
Law Student Externship Program
Rule 39 Certified Limited Practice Clinic
Law Clerk Program
For attorneys, we offer student loan repayment up to $72,000 over a lifetime ($600 per month), ethical caseloads, mentors 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.
- Undergraduate Externship
- Law Student Externship
- Rule 39 Cert. Practice Clinic
- Gideon Fellowship
- Law Clerk Program
Undergraduate Externship Program:
The Maricopa County Office of the Public Defender Undergraduate Externship Program is designed to give externs exposure to the work environment of a public defender's office, including opportunities to observe and assist in legal proceedings and contribute to the work of the criminal defense team. The Program integrates interns into our office and allows them to assume some of the same responsibilities as our full-time personnel.
Our office accepts applications from students currently in their junior and senior year of their undergraduate studies to work with our mitigation specialists and initial services staff. Preferred candidates are students seeking a degree related to social work and psychology for our mitigation externships. For our initial services externship, Spanish speakers and/or students seeking a degree in criminal justice studies are preferred.
The externship allows students to earn academic credit through their university during the summer, fall, or spring semesters, if desired.
If interested in applying for our Undergraduate Externship Program, please submit a cover letter, resume, and writing sample to Angela DeMarse, the Law Clerk/Extern Supervisor.
September 22, 2023
February 2, 2024
March 8, 2024
|Spring 2025||September 27, 2024|
Law Student Externship Program
The Maricopa County Office of the Public Defender Externship Program is currently available to second and third year law students for the Spring, Summer, and Fall semesters. We work closely with law schools from all over the county to accommodate the schedule of our students for earned credit hours, if desired.
If selected, students in our Externship Program will be assigned to specific attorneys in our felony trial groups to:
- Assist in evidentiary hearings, jury selection, and trials
Attend and participate in witness interviews
Review evidence and issue spot to develop case strategy
Meet with clients, both in and out of custody
Conduct legal research and prepare legal memorandum
Write substantive motions
Additionally, externs working with us during the summer semester will receive training in trial skills and participate in a mock trial at the end of the externship.
Our strongest candidates possess a passion for representing those whose civil liberties are at risk, a strong work ethic, and a desire to learn. If interested in applying for an externship, please submit a cover letter, resume, and writing sample to Angela DeMarse, the Law Clerk/Extern Supervisor. Please submit all materials by the following deadlines for consideration. Once received, qualified applicants will be contacted for the scheduling of an interview.
September 22, 2023
February 2, 2024
March 8, 2024
Rule 39 Certified Limited Practice Students:
The Rule 39 Certified Limited Practice Student Program is also known as The Public Defender Law Clinic. Please note, the Clinic is only available to law students attending the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law for Summer, Fall and Spring semesters.
As a Rule 39 Certified Limited Practice Student, you will:
- Represent indigent defendants in criminal cases in Maricopa County Superior Court and Justice courts
- Interview clients and witnesses
- Draft motions
- Handle preliminary hearings, plea proceedings, settlement conferences, sentencings, 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 clinical 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
Interested applicants must apply directly though the Clinic application process at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law. You may view additional information here: Clinic application process at ASU.
The Gideon Fellowship provides a clinical experience for three full semesters, beginning the summer before your 3L year, and is available to 2Ls at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law.
The Fellow experiences a progression of various indigent defense work through participation in the Public Defender Clinic during the summer, externing at the Maricopa County Office of the Public Defender during the Fall, and conducting research and writing at the Federal Public Defender’s Office in the Spring.
The Gideon Fellow is selected through a competitive application process and formally awarded at the Arizona Public Defender Association (APDA) conference in June. The Fellow receives a stipend throughout their work.
Fellows often become attorneys at our office after becoming licensed. Former fellows have shared how their experience have shaped their career:
“The fellowship gave me an early inside view of the day-to-day work of a public defender, and the experience was invaluable. By the time I had a bar number and began work as an attorney, many of my colleagues were facing various situations for the first time. As the Gideon, I’d had a chance to deal with this scenarios on real cases already. I felt more prepared and less scared that I normally would’ve been by so many things that were new to my co-workers but not to me. This helped create a level of comfort during my early days as an attorney and helped me grow into the lawyer I am today.
It’s now been more than 11 years since my Gideon Fellowship ended, and I can still say without hesitation that it was the most rewarding and amazing experience I’ve had as both a law student or as an attorney.”-- Brandon Finsterwalder, Gideon Fellow 2008-2009, Early Disposition Court Attorney Supervisor
“I went to law school to become a public defender. The Gideon Fellowship made it happen. By the time I got my bar number, I had experience at nearly every level of indigent defense. As Gideon Fellow, I reviewed discovery, interviewed witnesses, advised clients, went to jail, drafted motions, argued in court, conducted a jury trial, assisted with last-minute pleas for stays of executions, and mourned the death of our clients at the hands of the state. The range of experiences was incredible and life-changing. Immediately after the fellowship, I began working as a law clerk and then was hired as a deputy public defender. I’ve continued on the track set by the Gideon Fellowship by working in all levels of indigent defense. For the past 5 years, I have been working in the appeals and post-conviction unit of the Maricopa County Public Defender Office. Working as a public defender has taught me more than the inner-workings of the criminal justice system. It has taught me about the breadth and depth of the human experience, particularly as it relates to the struggles of the downtrodden and oppressed. If you are interested in a legal career that is about making an impact on the lives of your clients and their families, the Gideon Fellowship offers a path that will expose you to the meaning of indigent defense.”-- Kevin Heade, Gideon Fellow 2011-20012, Appellate / Post-Conviction Relief Deputy Public Defender
“Being selected as the Gideon fellow not only affirmed my desire to pursue a career in public defense, but it gave me unapparelled opportunities to appear in court, meet with clients, and improve my writing. By the time I took the bar exam, I had appeared as a limited practice student in three jury trials.
The training and experience I gained as the Gideon fellow gave me the foundation I needed to progress to working as a law clerk, and then as an attorney with the Maricopa County Public Defender’s Office.” –Kathryn Krecji, Gideon Fellow 2013-2014, Sex Crimes Deputy Public Defender
“The Gideon Fellowship helped open the door to a career in indigent criminal defense for me. This was an unparalleled learning experience both for legal research and writing as well as hands on client interaction and courtroom experience. Due to my time as the Gideon Fellow, I started practice confident in my abilities and in my client management skills. I can’t recommend the Gideon Fellowship highly enough; it was the defining experience of my time in law school.” –Meghan White, Gideon Fellow 2014-2015, Sex Crimes Deputy Public Defender
“My Gideon Fellowship experience was an invaluable experience. Throughout the fellowship, I had the privilege of gaining insight into two distinct public defender agencies—one at the local level and one at the federal level. Both gave me an intimate look inside the criminal justice system and how public defenders provide respect and a sense of humanity for the clients they represent. From the very start, I began working in a courtroom and participated in several types of hearings, including a trial. You will have opportunities to observe, but you will also have the ability to do things yourself, just as a public defender would do. Everyone you work with will allow you a sense of autonomy to make the decisions you think are best for your client, with a little bit of guidance added along the way. I can’t recommend this experience enough. This fellowship has undoubtedly set the foundation for my career and I look forward to becoming a public defender so I can utilize the skills this experience taught me.”—Laraib Mughal, Gideon Fellow 2018-2019, Defender Law Clerk
If you are interested, you can learn more and apply on ASU’s website.
Law Clerk Program:
The Maricopa County Office of the Public Defender Clerkship Program gives third year law students and recent law graduates an opportunity to assist attorneys in many aspects of a criminal case.
Clerkship positions are available in each of our felony divisions. This includes our general felony trial groups, appeals, capital, sex crimes, juveniles charged as adults, vehicular, and mental health units. Each law clerk is assigned to a specific division and joins in our client-centered approach to:
Assist at legal proceedings including evidentiary hearings, jury selection, and trials
Review evidence, issue spot, and perform legal research
Draft legal memoranda and substantive motions
Attend client meetings, both in and out of custody
Directly assist the community with applications for restoration of rights, set asides, and misdemeanor designations
Participate in legal seminars and workshops
Law clerks are paid employees of Maricopa County with full benefits. Exceptional candidates will have demonstrated their passion for indigent defense throughout their law school experience and will strive to work as an attorney at MCPD once they’ve become licensed.
Furthermore, ideal candidates for the MCPD Clerkship Program will have experience in criminal defense or public interest work. Additionally, applicants should either:
1) be currently attending an accredited law school and will be in their last semester of their 3L year at the time of their start date if hired, or
2) have recently graduated, are planning to sit for the next bar exam and will have submitted their character and fitness application by their start date if hired, or
3) have recently graduated and are awaiting results of their bar exam and character and fitness application.
Applications are accepted on a rolling basis. If interested in applying, please email a current resume, cover letter, and writing sample to Angela DeMarse, Law Clerk/Extern Supervisor. Once materials are received, qualified applicants will be contacted for the scheduling of an interview.
*Please note: all law clerk positions are currently filled.