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Volunteer-Student Internship Program


The Orange County Office of the Public Defender gives law students an unequalled experience through a variety of internship opportunities. Interns at our office will have access to a variety of assignments including interviewing of clients, assisting skilled attorneys in case preparation, and legal research and writing. Interns will find a supportive environment with real-time mentoring by attorneys, investigators, paralegals, and other support staff. We want to make sure to give interns real world experience while ensuring our clients receive the best representation possible.

Interns should possess a passion for representing those whose civil liberties are at risk, an impeccable work ethic, and strong research and writing skills. Our office is an equal opportunity employer that affirmatively seeks interns of varied ethnic and cultural backgrounds as well as those with bilingual language skills.

We are seeking Interns in the following departments:

  • Adult Criminal Divisions

  • Juvenile Delinquency

  • Family Dependency

  • Mental Health

  • Collaborative Courts

What is the difference between an Internship and a Post-Bar Clerkship?

Internships are for students currently enrolled in law school. They can be part time or full time experiences depending on the students’ availability. As an intern, you will interact with clients and aid attorneys with research, written legal arguments and a variety of court hearings – all for the benefit of our clients. A select few interns will be encouraged to become “PTLS certified” by the California State Bar.

For graduating laws students who have taken the California Bar exam and are awaiting results, we offer an intense, full-time clerkship. “Post Bars” assist attorneys in every aspect of case preparation and advocate on behalf of clients in actual court proceedings. All Post Bar candidates will need to be “PTLS certified” by the California State Bar.

What does “PTLS certified” mean?

The California State Bar permits law students to appear on behalf of clients in court. To qualify they must qualify for “Practical Training of Legal Students” (PTLS) certification. A student must have completed one full year of law school at an ABA or State Bar of California accredited law school. The student must also be enrolled in or have completed Evidence and Civil Procedure.

More information can be found on the California State Bar website at www.calbar.ca.gov.

When do the Internships/Post Bar Clerkships begin and how long do they last?

Fall and Spring Interns: These are 14 week programs. The fall program runs from late August through the beginning of December. The spring program runs from January through April.

Fall and Spring Post Bar Clerkships: The fall program is 13 weeks. The spring program is 9 weeks.

How to apply for an Internship/Post Bar Clerkship

Orange County local law school applicants will be interviewed mainly at On-Campus Interviews (OCI). For other law school applicants in the Southern California area we can conduct interviews at our office. For applicants who live outside the Southern California area interviews can be conducted by Skype or other video-chat programs.

Applicants must submit the following:

  1. An intern application (click to download)

  2. A cover letter

  3. A current resume

Interviews will be scheduled based on the information we receive.

Submit applications to:
Email: Sandy.Zirtzman@pubdef.ocgov.com
Fax: 714-834-6650 Attn: Sandy Zirtzman

Or Mail to: Orange County Public Defender
Attn: Sandy Zirtzman, Intern Coordinator
14 Civic Center Plaza Santa Ana, CA 92701


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