Working for the Maricopa County Office of the Public Defender offers a collaborative and supportive work environment in the heart of the fifth largest metropolitan area in the country, while providing competitive pay with a low cost of living. Additionally, because our office is a part of the County’s workforce, we have excellent benefits and County-wide programs to encourage overall health and well-being. Our office is also committed to creating a culture of conviviality, where you can participate in outside the office activities like hikes, service projects, and picnics and in-office activities like potlucks and take your child to work day. Working for our office means you will be able to participate in the meaningful work of protecting people’s constitutional rights and delivering America’s promise of justice for all.
We offer many opportunities to explore career options, build resumes, network with professionals, and gain hands-on experience through our programs designed for students and recent graduates:
- Law Student Externship Program
- Law Clerk Program
- Rule 38 Certified Limited Practice Clinic
- Undergraduate Internship Program
- Gideon Fellowship
For attorneys, we offer student loan repayment up to $72,000 over a lifetime ($600 per month), ethical caseloads, over 225 attorneys in the office to work with and learn from, the ability to get felony trial work from the start of your career, and special interest divisions including: appeals, capital, juveniles tried as adults, mental health, rehabilitative courts, sex crimes, and white collar. You will be able to work where your interest and strengths are while receiving excellent training in litigation and case management to build your skills as an advocate.
Access job opportunities with Maricopa County to review positions within the Office of the Public Defender.
Law Student Externship Program
The Maricopa County Office of the Public Defender Externship Program is currently available to second and third year law students for the Spring, Summer, and Fall semesters. We work closely with law schools from all over the county to accommodate the schedule of our students for earned credit hours.
If selected, students in our Externship Program will be assigned to specific attorneys in our felony trial groups to:
- Assist in jury selection
- Assist in trial preparation
- Attend and participate in witness interviews
- Attend private conferences with judges in chambers
- Draft and editing pleadings
- Meet with clients both in and out of jail
- Observe court proceedings
- Research legal issues
- Review case files
- Write legal memoranda
Additionally, externs working with us during the summer semester will have the opportunity to tour various correctional facilities and receive training in trial skills by participating in a mock trial.
If interested in applying for an externship, please submit a cover letter, resume, and writing sample to Sierra Taylor, the Law Clerk/Extern Supervisor.
The Maricopa County Office of the Public Defender Clerkship Program gives third year law students and recent law graduates an opportunity to assist attorneys in many aspects of a criminal case.
Clerkship positions are available in our trial, appeals, capital, and mental health divisions of the office. Each law clerk is assigned to a specific unit and works directly with the attorneys within that group to:
- Assist attorneys at legal proceedings including arraignments, evidentiary hearings and trials
- Attend legal seminars and training workshops
- Perform legal research
- Draft memoranda or motions
- Assist the community at Restoration of Rights events
Clerkship positions are paid and benefits are available. Additionally, as employees of the Maricopa County Office of the Public Defender, law clerks become members of the Arizona Public Defender Association (APDA). The APDA holds an annual conference in June to which all staff and attorneys are invited. This conference is just one of the great training opportunities afforded to the law clerks in the Office.
If interested in applying for a law clerk position, please contact:
Sierra Taylor, Law Clerk/Extern Supervisor
By Phone: 602-506-7711
Rule 38 Certified Limited Practice Students:
The Rule 38 Certified Limited Practice Student Program is also known as The Public Defender Law Clinic. Please note, the Clinic is only available to law students attending the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law for Summer, Fall and Spring semesters.
As a Rule 38 Certified Limited Practice Student, you will:
- Represent indigent defendants in criminal cases in Maricopa County Superior Court and Justice courts
- Interview clients and witnesses
- Draft motions
- Handle preliminary hearings, plea proceedings, settlement conferences, sentencings, evidentiary hearings, and jury trials
- Receive regular feedback on your verbal and written work from professors, experienced criminal defense attorneys, and sitting Superior Court judges
- Learn, through a clinical course, effective public speaking techniques
- Receive specific training in all aspects of trial including opening statements, closing arguments, direct and cross examination, and voir dire
Interested applicants must apply directly though the Clinic application process at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law. You may view additional information here: Clinic application process at ASU.
Undergraduate Internship Program:
The Maricopa County Office of the Public Defender Undergraduate Internship Program is designed to give interns exposure to the work environment of a Public Defender's Office, including opportunities to observe and assist in legal proceedings and contribute to the work of the criminal defense team. The Program integrates interns into our office and allows them to assume some of the same responsibilities as our full-time personnel.
Our office accepts applications from students currently in their junior and senior year of their undergraduate studies to work with our mitigation specialists and initial services staff. The internship allows students to earn academic credit through Arizona State University during the Fall or Spring semesters, if desired.
If interested in applying for our Undergraduate Internship Program, please submit a cover letter, resume, and writing sample to Sierra Taylor, the Law Clerk/Extern Supervisor.
The Gideon Fellowship provides a 12-month paid clinical experience beginning the summer before your 3L year, and is available to 2Ls at ASU Law.
You will experience a progression of various indigent defense work through your participation in the Public Defender Clinic, externing at the Maricopa County Office of the Public Defender, and conducting research and writing at the Federal Public Defender’s Office.
The Gideon Fellow is selected through a competitive application process and formally awarded at the Arizona Public Defender Association (APDA) conference in June.
If you are interested, you can learn more and apply on ASU’s website.