Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia

**Applicants for this Director’s Internship must also apply via:, as well as through the IOP**

Criminal Law Internship Program

The Criminal Law Internship Program (CLIP) is one of the preeminent legal internship opportunities in the United States.  CLIP has been described by The Washington Post as one of the finest pre-law experiences available, and The Princeton Review has consistently ranked the program as one of the most hands-on internship programs in the nation, stating that the program is "a criminal law internship at its in-your-face best." Former participants of the program are now among the most prestigious members of our legal community—lawyers and scholars.

CLIP is a fast paced, hands-on investigative internship program for undergraduate and graduate students. Intern Investigators spend the summer at one of the most prestigious public defender offices in the nation. Our interns don’t just sit in the office all day copying files. Partnered together, they work directly with staff attorneys to complete various investigative tasks and zealously advocate for their clients. CLIP internships generally last at least 12 weeks, and while exceptions can be made, a longer internship experience is beneficial. 

Spend your internship in the District of Columbia community, meeting with clients, and feeling the thrill of representing clients in court.  We offer a unique learning experience that can both prepare you for graduate-level work and provide you with the experience necessary for employment in any field.

To learn more about the program and our application process, visit:

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About PDS—A Model Public Defender Organization:

For more than 50 years, PDS has led the nation in providing exceptional advocacy and quality legal representation to indigent adults and children.  Judges and prosecutors alike, as well as public defender agencies and criminal justice bars across the country, acknowledge and respect the outstanding work of PDS’s attorneys.

For more information about PDS, visit

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2017 Intern Reflection: 

Working at the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia (PDSDC) this summer has been a simultaneously inspiring and humbling experience. The Criminal Law Internship Program (CLIP) lives up to its description and reputation as an incredible internship experience with direct exposure to the criminal justice system. In this internship, I have the privilege of working with staff investigators and attorneys to zealously investigate cases and defend our clients. Everyone I have met at PDSDC is wholly committed to the mission of the agency and the people it serves. It is a values-driven workplace that I feel honored to be a part of.

Every day is different at the Public Defender Service. With my intern partner, I am more often than not out in the community, interacting with new people on a regular basis. A day on the job can include a whole range of tasks: serving subpoenas, visiting jail, interviewing witnesses, canvassing neighborhoods, watching court, and more. I am so thankful for the exposure this internship has afforded me to criminal and civil law legal services, as well as the opportunity to connect with people living in inner-city D.C. who face systemic injustice every day of their lives. I am certain I will carry the experiences of this internship with me as I pursue a career in the service of others, whatever that may be.

Sally Marsh '18

2016 Intern Reflection: 

I am so grateful to be working as an intern investigator the Public Defender Service this summer. In a given week I might be taking crime scene photos, serving subpoenas, finding witnesses and getting written statements, visiting clients in jail, and sitting in on hearings in court. I am more often out in the community than I am in the office and I get to meet someone new almost every day. I have an intern partner and we work with one attorney and his staff investigator who have both been so generous with their time and have given us plenty of opportunities to challenge ourselves. The commitment to a fair and equal justice system demonstrated by everyone in the office is nothing short of inspiring.

I would recommend this internship to anyone who is interested in criminal justice, outgoing, and wants to see more of the city than they would on their commute to and from a desk job. With more than 60 other interns in the summer, even time spent in the office is anything but dull. This internship has exceeded my expectations in every way and I know I am going to be talking about everything I learned this summer for a long time to come.

Pheobe Mesard '18

2015 Intern Reflection:

Working at the Public Defender Service this summer is a dream come true for anyone hoping to work in criminal law. As an Intern Investigator, I've gotten to watch the entire process of a criminal case going to trial, from pick-up to client meetings to closing arguments in court. My role at PDS is not a desk job--I'm in the field virtually every day, collecting records, listening to jail calls, interviewing witnesses, and passing through security screenings on my way to visit clients at DC Jail.

The staff at PDS have shown me what "zealous defense" truly means, from the law clerks to the staff investigators to the lawyers themselves. Their passion, in the courtroom and out, is absolutely inspiring. Whether or not I continue on to be a public defender, I couldn't be more glad I got the experience of working in the best public defender agency in the country, seeing what it means to uphold the ideals of a fair and equally applied justice system.

Eva Shang '17

Washington, D.C.
Advocacy/Policy, Federal /State and Local Government, Research