The Public Defender’s Office offers internship and volunteer opportunities for interested students throughout the year. We strive to create a challenging but supportive educational environment for our interns. We hope our interns and volunteers will leave our program with a thorough understanding of our client-centered indigent defense practice and practical skills they can apply in the future. We accept a limited number of student interns during the school year, and we run a formal internship program every summer.
Law student interns, under the supervision of an Assistant Public Defender, may conduct client interviews, research and write legal memoranda, investigate cases, interview witnesses, observe negotiations with the District Attorney and observe other court proceedings. Students who have a limited practice license pursuant to Tenn. Sup. Ct. Rule 7, § 10.03 will also have the opportunity to directly represent clients in court proceedings under the supervision of an Assistant Public Defender.
We also accept college and high school student volunteers. Our student volunteers have the opportunity to work with our Investigator and Social Services teams and to perform more of the clerical functions within the office. If interested, student volunteers can also expect an opportunity to shadow an attorney in court for a day, along with opportunities to interact with and learn from the attorneys in the office. Students must be 16 or older to volunteer.
Summer Intern Program
We host student interns for approximately 10 weeks during the summer months. The Summer Intern program is an immersive experience which helps students discern whether a career as a public defender is right for them. We host law student interns and a limited number of high school and college interns each summer. In addition to the opportunities all interns receive at the Nashville Defenders, the Summer Intern program includes a formal orientation and trial skills training program, as well as regularly scheduled discussions about issues within the criminal legal system. Because we recognize the likelihood that our interns (like our staff) will experience trauma of various types during their work with us, we create intentional opportunities for students to process their experiences with each other and with experienced public defenders throughout the summer. We prefer our interns to spend their full summers with us so that we can create the best environment for growth and learning.
The number of students we accept for a summer internship varies with our needs and resources. We begin making summer hiring decisions as early as October and will make final decisions by February.
Are you a law student?
If you would like to apply for a school year or summer internship or externship, please e-mail your resume, cover letter, transcript and a writing sample to Georgia Sims, Assistant Deputy Public Defender, at NDInternships@jis.nashville.org.
Are you a college or high school student?
If you would like to apply to volunteer with us, please e-mail your resume and cover letter to Georgia Sims, Assistant Deputy Public Defender, at NDInternships@jis.nashville.org.