Employment & Internships

Interns

About the WCOPD Student Lawyer Internship Program

The Office of Washtenaw County Public Defender (OWCPD) conducts a very popular internship program for the best and brightest students from law schools and colleges throughout the country that enables them to voluntarily apply for unpaid positions within the Office that frequently carry course credit at their schools. Applicants who are selected become an integral part of high volume trial lawyer teams where they gain practical experience as student lawyers and investigators interacting with all components of the criminal justice system to include "hands-on" courtroom experience, one on one client contact, plus research and writing. Student Lawyers, under the direct supervision of an experienced trial attorney, can appear on the record within the actual courtroom arena. In-depth and comprehensive program orientations and reviews are conducted for the Winter/Spring, Summer and Fall terms during January, May, and September, respectively.

This program is mutually rewarding for the student intern and the Office of Public Defender in augmenting its capacity to consistently provide top-quality legal representation while also reducing the cost of doing business. The program averages approximately 45 to 60 interns during the Fall, Winter/Spring, and Summer terms.

Program Scope

The Washtenaw County Public Defender Internship Program is a unique opportunity for students to represent real clients. As an intern, you will have the chance to experience the criminal defense of indigent persons in a "hands-on" environment. You will:

  • Interview, counsel, and represent indigent defendants.
  • Engage in the practice of law under the supervision of experienced attorneys.
  • Have an opportunity to appear in court frequently.
  • Work with a highly-skilled group of attorneys who have been trained to be outstanding supervisors and mentors.
  • Have opportunities to polish your public speaking skills.
  • Have an opportunity to work in a collegial, cooperative atmosphere with other students.
  • Have an opportunity to apply the legal theories you have learned in the classroom in your real cases with live clients.
  • Have an opportunity to engage in negotiations/conversations with prosecuting attorneys in the community.

Practice Areas

Adult Criminal Division 

  • Arraignments
  • Probable Cause Conference and Preliminary Exam  
  • Felonies 
  • Misdemeanors

Juvenile Division 

  • Juvenile Delinquency (DL) 
  • Juvenile Neglect & Abuse (NA)

About the WCOPD Social Work Internship Program 

The Washtenaw County Public Defender’s Office is committed to providing a holistic approach to serving clients. In keeping with this mission, the Office has recently expanded its reach and approach through incorporating social work into its services. The core values of social work align with those of the Office, and its goal of protecting the most vulnerable and their rights. Public Defender Social Workers provide tailored social work services which complement the services of the Office's attorneys.

Program Scope

Social Work intern students will shadow Public Defender Social Workers as they complete:          

  • Assessments for mitigation
  • Testify in court
  • Provide resource navigation assistance 
  • Liaise with local service providers. 

The hands-on experience provided by the Public Defender Social Work internship allows social work students who are interested in criminal justice to play an important role in client advocacy, and contribute to positive outcomes for clients.

WCOPD Social Work Internship Eligibility 

Social work students at the BSW and MSW levels are eligible to participate in unpaid social work internships to fulfill their field placement requirements. 

Internship Requirements 

Student Lawyer and Social Work Schedules 

The WCOPD Internship Program requires that ALL Interns work at least two days per week for a minimum of 4-6 hours per day totaling 8-12 hours per week. Social Work intern schedules may vary depending on school requirements and office case loads.

Interns are allowed to coordinate their schedules within the confines of our operational hours (Mon-Fri, 8:30 am - 5:00 pm). Student Lawyers may also have the opportunity to work with our Arraignment Division on the weekends for weekend arraignments, if available.

Student Hours & Course Credit

Course Credit 

Many of our Student Lawyers use our Internship Program to acquire course credit through their universities. Student Lawyers are responsible for coordinating the use of our program for course credit with their respective universities including, but not limited to, any documentation, verification, etc. that is needed.

If students are required to complete a fixed number of volunteer hours, they are responsible for communicating the need to program coordinators and their respective attorney. 

*This is on a case-by-case basis. 

Internship Start Date(s) 

All Interns must be able to start within ONE WEEK of their orientation date. Student Lawyers and Social Work Interns who are unable to start within one week of orientation will be placed on our waitlist for that term.

Covid-19 Restrictions and Program Impact

With current Covid-19 restrictions and protocol, in-office activity has been limited to essential staff only. As a result of the measures in place to ensure the health and safety of our employee's, the internship program has been moved indefinitely to a remote setting . All program activates will be conducted using virtual platforms such as Zoom, Google Meet, and Microsoft Teams. Our office is dedicated to providing an engaging, educational, and one of a kind internship experience, and we remain true to this commitment through Covid-19.

Internship Program Dates & Deadlines 

The Washtenaw County Office of Public Defender offers three sessions year-round: 

Winter (January-April), Summer (May-August), and Fall (September-December) 

 Term Tentative Program Dates*Application DeadlineOrientation Date
SUMMER 2021May 8, 2021 -
August 31, 2021 
May 1, 2021May 8, 2021
FALL 2021 September 11, 2021 - December 31, 2021 September 4, 2021 September 11, 2021
WINTER 2022January 2022 -
April 2022
(Specific program dates TBA)
TBATBA

*Program dates subject to change 


APPLYING

If you are interested in joining the Washtenaw County Public Defender Office as a Student Attorney or Social Work Intern, please complete the Microsoft Forms Questionnaire . In addition to completing the questionnaire,  please submit a cover letter and resume prior to the application deadline stated above. All cover letters and Resumes are to be submitted to program coordinator. Stephon Downes via email at [email protected] .   


Need more information? 

For more information to apply for this practical experience internship as a member of a governmental trial lawyer team, please email the Program Manager, First Assistant Public Defender, Lorne Brown or call him at 734-222-6970. You can also contact the County Public Defender, Delphia T. Simpson, at 734-222-6970.