Legal Assistant Intern – Alternate Defender’s Office (Unpaid Intern)

US Government, Public Defender


Legal Assistant Intern
Alternate Defender’s Office

This internship recruitment will remain posted on a continuous basis until the needs of the Agency are met. Students and recent graduates are encouraged to apply immediately. 


The role of the Alternate Defender’s Office is to provide quality representation to clients in an efficient and cost-effective manner. People who cannot afford to hire a lawyer have the right to a court-appointed lawyer, which in most cases is the Public Defender with a deputy public defender handling the case. The Alternate Defender is the office that handles cases if the Public Defender is not available for appointment (typically if there is a legal conflict of interest).

Interns may work with trial attorneys, investigators, paralegals and secretaries. Duties may include organizing discovery and indexing information; summarizing witness statements; copying and filing case files; preparing and serving agency subpoenas; interacting with court staff to file court motions; serving court orders at the O.C. Sheriff’s Department; picking up cases, discovery, and records from various agencies; and delivering clothing and legal mail to the jail. Interns may also be asked to conduct internet research related to various forensic experts and issues. Interns will take part in tactical and strategic discussions on defense theories. Whenever possible, interns are encouraged to attend court proceedings, especially jury trials.

Students or recent graduates contemplating law-school or studying for the LSAT will find this internship extremely valuable. 

Applicants must currently be enrolled in an accredited college/university and have completed at least two years of undergraduate studies or achieved an associate’s degree in Criminal Justice, Forensics, Psychology, Sociology, Political Science, Pre-Law, Government Studies or related fields. Recent graduates who have completed their degree in one of the listed fields are also eligible to apply.

Computer skills, especially Microsoft Office Suite, and foreign language skills (Spanish or Vietnamese) are a plus. Applicants with previous experience working with at-risk populations such as the poor and downtrodden are highly desirable. This internship is not for the squeamish or faint hearted, but for the philanthropic, intelligent and compassionate.


Minimum 12 – 16 hours per week for a minimum of 3 months or up to 6 months. Time frames of less than 3 months cannot be accommodated

Hours may be scheduled Monday through Friday between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Ideal schedules are from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m., two days per week, but other options will be considered.

Applicants able to schedule the maximum hours/duration listed for this internship typically gain a more in-depth experience.

Although this is an unpaid position that does not lead to permanent employment or include employee benefits, interns are offered an opportunity to explore career options, build resumes, network with professionals in their fields of interest and gain hands-on experience in a legal setting. The internship offers students and recent graduates an opportunity to experience real-life situations within a legal office that complement their academic studies and career goals.

Students should apply no more than 4 to 5 weeks before their anticipated start date. Applications that have anticipated start dates beyond 5 weeks will not be considered.

Applicants must attach a cover letter, resume, and unofficial transcripts to their application. The cover letter is an opportunity for students to describe career and academic goals, to elaborate upon personal and academic accomplishments, and to identify what type of internship experience they are seeking.  Learn more about what to include in a cover letter HERE. 
Prior to placement, applicants may be asked to submit contact information for reference checks, and a background screening will be conducted that requires a state issued driver’s license or ID card and a U.S. Social Security number.
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