The New Jersey Office of the Public Defender (NJOPD) offers students a hands-on experience working with attorneys, investigators, and staff in providing our clients the best possible legal representation. During their volunteer internships, 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. Internship opportunities are available year-round, and statewide.

About the NJOPD

The 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), the 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), individuals seeking post-conviction relief (Conviction Integrity Unit), and clients in other areas including Drug Court and Intensive Supervision Program matters.

Internships for Law Students

Second-year and third-year law students who intern with the 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
  • assisting in client and witness interviews
  • assisting in courtroom proceedings
  • attending court proceedings and training programs

In addition, interns who have completed two years of law school have the opportunity to 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 Drug Court and Mental Health Advocacy.  The NJOPD also offers internship opportunities for paralegal students.

To Apply

Email a cover letter, resume, and legal writing sample (law students only) to Dana Lane, Esq., Internship Coordinator,  Cover letters should explain: (1) why you are seeking an internship with the 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.

Submission deadlines:

  • Fall Semester (September – December) = July 31
  • Spring Semester (January – May) = November 30
  • Summer (June – August) = April 15

In addition to the submission of a resume and cover letter, 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 with the NJOPD.

*Office of Law Guardian offers summer internships only