Public Defender's Office Internship Program

Undergraduate Internship Program

About the Program

The Allegheny County Public Defender Undergraduate Internship Program is designed as an introduction and opportunity to learn about the inner workings of the Public Defender’s Office and how it operates in the Criminal Legal System. The purpose of our program is to provide exposure and to prepare our interns for a career in public defense. There are three major components to the program: attorney support, client interaction, and shadowing opportunities.

Attorney Support

Every intern will have the opportunity and responsibility of providing support services to our attorneys. This includes: filing entries of appearance, court motions, and other miscellaneous court documents; obtaining discovery and other investigatory materials necessary for the representation of clients; assisting in direct correspondence and communication with clients; and assisting with pretrial conference scheduling and case assignments.

Client Interaction

Every intern will have the opportunity for direct client interaction. At the center of our mission and purpose is the service of our clients and our community. Client interaction will include but is not limited to: Public Defender client intake; correspondence with clients both incarcerated and at liberty; and communication with client’s family members, support personal, and witnesses, when appropriate.

Shadowing Opportunities

Throughout the internship program, our interns will have the opportunity to shadow our attorneys and legal professionals to gain exposure to all aspects of the criminal legal system. This includes intake staff, support staff, investigators, social workers, preliminary hearing attorneys, trial attorneys, appellate attorneys, probation and parole attorneys, and juvenile attorneys.


Our internship is unpaid, however many schools offer grants and fellowships for internships in public interest. Applicants are encouraged to speak with their schools about how to receive funding while participating in our internship program.

Our interns frequently obtain summer housing through local universities. Although our office is unable to provide any direct assistance in obtaining housing, interns are encouraged to reach out to local universities to inquire about the availability of summer housing. Previous interns have had success obtaining summer housing at Duquesne University, Point Park University, Carlow University, University of Pittsburgh, and others. Pittsburgh is a fairly large city with plenty of housing opportunities. A quick internet search will usually provide a plethora of sublet and summer rental opportunities.

Interns will not need a vehicle while participating in our program. Our office is located downtown at the center of the bus line. It is easily accessible by public transportation.


Our internship program has developed over the past several years to become a well-rounded program providing each intern a unique and personalized Public Defender experience. Our interns will have the opportunity to gain insight and exposure into the field of Public Defense.