Healthy New Jersey

Office of the Public Defender



New Jersey Office of the Public Defender (NJOPD)

NJOPD offers a hands-on experience working with attorneys, investigators, and staff in providing our clients the best possible legal representation. During volunteer internships/externships, students gain real-world experience assisting with investigations, client communication, research and writing, trial preparation and advocacy, as well as excellent training and mentorship opportunities. Opportunities are available year-round and statewide.

About the NJOPD

NJOPD provides first class legal representation to indigent individuals at both the trial and appellate levels. While the majority of our attorneys defend individuals charged with criminal offenses, we also represent  individuals whose children have been removed based on allegations of abuse and neglect (Office of Parental Representation), children who have been removed (Office of Law Guardian), individuals involuntarily committed to State psychiatric facilities (Office of Mental  Health  Advocacy), those who have  been convicted of sex offenses and are facing Megan’s Law tier classification (Special Hearings Unit), and individuals seeking post-conviction relief (Conviction Integrity Unit). Our attorneys also represent clients in Recovery Court and Intensive Supervision Program matters, and as part of our Forensic Science Unit.

Internships for Law Students

2Ls and 3Ls who intern/extern with NJOPD assist attorneys and staff with case preparation, litigation, and ongoing and/or systemic projects related to the representation of NJOPD clients, including by:

  • Conducting legal research and analysis
  • Drafting motions, briefs, memoranda, and reports
  • Assisting with trial preparation
  • Participating in client and witness interviews
  • Observing and appearing in courtroom proceedings
  • Attending training programs

Students who have completed 2 years of law school may appear in court under supervision of NJOPD attorneys

Internships for College and Graduate Students

Internship opportunities are available for college juniors and seniors and graduate students. Investigator interns assist NJOPD investigators, attorneys, and staff with a variety of tasks, including: 

  • Locating and interviewing witnesses
  • Serving subpoenas
  • Researching and gathering information and documents
  • Conducting field investigation such as photographing crime scenes and examining evidence
  • Drafting reports
  • Attending court proceedings and training programs

Graduate students in fields such as social work can apply to intern in the NJOPD'S specialized units, including Recovery Court and Mental Health Advocacy.  The NJOPD also offers internship opportunities for paralegal students.

To Apply

Email cover letter, resume, and writing sample (law students only) to Internship Coordinator Dana Lane at  

Cover letters should explain: (1) why you are seeking an internship/externship with NJOPD; (2) practice area(s) of interest; (3) geographic preference or limitations; and (4) availability, including anticipated start/end date, number of hours, and schedule.

Applications are considered on a rolling basis and must be received between June 15th and July 31st (Fall); between October 15th and November 30th (Spring); and between December 15th and April 15th (Summer).

In addition to the submission of application materials, all applicants must be interviewed by regional office and/or Internship Coordinator, complete confidentiality and ethics paperwork, and be screened and approved prior to being offered an internship/externship with the NJOPD.

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