Summer Law Clerk

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Open Date: Jul 26, 2023
Close Date: Apr 16, 2024
Position Type: Full Time
Location: 633 3rd Street, NW Washington, District of Columbia 20004

About The Job

PDS Overview:

A major portion of the work of PDS consists of representing individuals in the District of Columbia’s local criminal legal system who are charged with committing serious criminal acts and who are eligible for court-appointed counsel. In the District of Columbia, public defense services are provided primarily by PDS (the “institutional defender”) and a panel of private attorneys, known ad Criminal Justice Act (CJA) attorneys, who are screened for membership on the panel and paid on a case-by-case basis by the D.C. courts. Because of its resources, well-regarded training program, and institutional practice knowledge, PDS lawyers handle the most serous criminal cases consistent with the best practices of the legal profession.

Division Overview:

Please review the divisions and their work by reviewing the descriptions under the 'legal services divisions' tab on the PDS website homepage.

Position Description:

Law clerks work in one of our seven legal divisions (Appeals, Civil, Community Defender, Mental Health, Parole, Special Litigation and Trial) supporting our attorneys, who zealously represent adults and children in all aspects of our client-centered, wraparound legal services programs. While the bulk of our clerks serve in supportive roles, the students assigned to the Community Defender and Parole divisions directly represent clients in administrative hearings.

Major Duties:

PDS law clerks have a wide range of duties depending on their assigned legal division. All law clerks will conduct legal research and writing, draft legal documents and engage in other work, from drafting discovery demands to attending school disciplinary meetings, participating in client meetings and more.

Required Qualifications:

Second year students (3Ls who have secured post-graduate employment may also apply for the summer program). 1L students who are scheduled to graduate in May, 2026 may apply on or after December 1, 2023.

Preferred Qualifications:

Experience interning at public defender or criminal defense-adjacent or civil legal services offices. Participation in law school clinics or experience advocating on behalf of low-income clients in any context. Students with teaching, counseling and other backgrounds who developed relevant or transferable skills that can support the work of PDS are encouraged to apply. If you were unable to participate in the type of work that would demonstrate your commitment to our work please address that in your cover letter.

Number of vacancies:




How to Apply:

Applicants must submit: (1) a cover letter; (2) a resume; (3) a list of three references (name, e-mail address, telephone number, and a brief statement of how each reference is able to evaluate your skills), (4) an unofficial law school transcript or typed grade list, and (5) a legal writing sample no more than 12 pages. All materials must be submitted online as a single consolidated PDF through the 'apply now' button below.

PDS accepts a limited number of split summer clerks who would otherwise be unable to volunteer their time. If you would like to be considered for the split summer program please note that in your cover letter and choose that option in the 'position' dropdown on the application, or click HERE

For questions about the hiring process, requirements or assistance with applying, please contact: 
Jennifer Thomas, Director of Legal Recruiting at (202) 480-0385 or [email protected].

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The Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia (PDS) is a federally funded, independent organization; governed by an eleven-member Board of Trustees, PDS provides legal representation to individuals facing a loss of freedom in the local criminal, delinquency, and mental health systems in the District of Columbia. PDS’s approximately 275 attorneys, social workers, investigative specialists, administrative, and technical staff collaborate with each other to advance the PDS mission. PDS’s main office is located at 633 3rd Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20001. District of Columbia residency is not a requirement for employment. PDS is funded by federal appropriations, and all employees are entitled to participate in the federal health and life insurance plans, the federal retirement plans (FERS, FERS-RAE, FERS-FRAE, CSRS, CSRS-Offset), and the Thrift Savings Plan. Transferring employees will receive recognition of creditable federal service for leave accrual and retirement purposes. Employment at PDS is neither federal nor District of Columbia government employment, and all employees are at-will.

PDS is an E-Verify participating agency. Please see the Right to Work Poster and the E-Verify Participation Poster for more information.


PDS is an Equal Opportunity Employer and E-Verify Participant.