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The Clerkship Program

The clerkship program has been designed to provide incoming attorneys the training and experience they need to practice as a Defender Attorney with skill and confidence. Shortly after taking the Pennsylvania Bar Exam, clerks begin the 12-week intensive training program. This program has two major aspects.

First there is a classroom training component. Clerks are trained on every aspect of criminal law and procedure in Allegheny County. This includes substantive training on specific charges, rules of evidence, and advocacy skills, as well as procedural training on things like logistics of representing clients, how the court systems work, and how the criminal justice system operates.

Second, there is mentorship/shadowing component where clerks observe a wide range of proceedings. Clerks will have an opportunity to observe preliminary hearings, pretrial conferences, motions hearings, trials, probation violation hearings, juvenile proceedings. Clerks will meet all the attorneys in the office and have an opportunity to learn and develop professionally though their mentorship.

At the end of the training program, once the clerks receive successful bar results and are admitted to the Pennsylvania bar, they are eligible to transition into a Defender Attorney position.