Job Opportunities

Law Clerk Externships with the Prisoner & Reentry Legal Services Program (Community Defender Division)

Opening Date:
Closing Date:

Community Defender Division
1442 Pennsylvania Avenue, SE
Washington, DC 20003

Our office is accessible by metro on the Orange, Blue, and Silver lines at Potomac Ave.

Job Description:

The Prisoner & Reentry Legal Services Program is part of the Community Defender Division at the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia. The program is comprised of a managing attorney and four staff attorneys. The Prisoner & Reentry Legal Services Program provides legal assistance and representation to people incarcerated for D.C. Code offenses and those in the community who are affected by collateral consequences of having a criminal record.

Specifically, our program serves D.C. prisoners at institutions operated by the D.C. Department of Corrections as well as across the nation in the Federal Bureau of Prisons. This includes legal representation of prisoners in D.C. Department of Corrections disciplinary hearings and prisoners in the Bureau of Prisons at U.S. Parole Commission parole consideration hearings. Our program also represents clients in the community seeking early termination of parole or supervised release, motions to seal prior criminal records, and in other matters where having a criminal record is serving as a barrier to their success.

Law clerks in our program are generally responsible for answering prisoner letters, representing prisoners at the jail in administrative disciplinary hearings, and assisting with record sealing motions. Letters from prisoners can cover a variety of areas, including case law research, medical care, staff abuse, institution transfer, and reentry resources. Administrative disciplinary hearings provide an opportunity for clerks to gain direct representation experience and develop skills in client interviewing, investigation, presenting oral argument and evidence to the D.C. Department of Corrections Adjustment Board, and writing appeals. Clerk responsibilities for record sealing motions include preliminary intake eligibility determinations, assisting in drafting motions and affidavits in support, client interviewing and investigation in some cases.

Clerks can also be assigned work in other areas as the need arises, such as early termination of supervision, sex offender registration, housing, and employment.

Division Description:
As part of PDS’s holistic approach to public defense, the Community Defender Division provides services to adults and children, primarily those who are in the post-adjudication stage of a criminal or juvenile delinquency case in the District of Columbia Superior Court. In the context of evolving concepts of holistic public defense, PDS is seeking to identify and implement enhancements to CDD’s mission and operations. CDD currently provides its services through specialized programs for adult and juvenile clients. For adult clients, CDD responds to the legal and social services needs of newly released individuals and others with criminal records, assisting them in making a successful transition back into the community. Further, CDD serves as the PDS liaison to individuals convicted of District of Columbia Code offenses and serving sentences in the District of Columbia Department of Corrections, Central Treatment Facility, and Federal Bureau of Prisons facilities, to provide information to assist these individuals, monitor their conditions of incarceration, and assist them on parole and other release-related matters. For juvenile clients, CDD represents children at administrative due process hearings, provides in-person legal consultations for children at the District’s youth detention centers and works with community organizations to develop reentry programs that address the special needs of children.
Qualifications Required:
Twelve to 20 hours a week during the semester, full time during the summer.
How To Apply:

Interested?  Apply here and also submit your application materials to:

Tara Chen
Staff Attorney, Prisoner & Reentry Legal Services Program
Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia
1442 Pennsylvania Avenue, SE
Washington, DC 20003
Office: (202) 824-2408
Fax: (202) 824-2671

In your cover letter, please indicate which academic semester you are interested in.