Summer Law Clerk
What is the Gideon’s Promise Summer Law Clerk Program?
The Gideon’s Promise Summer Law Clerk Program is designed to introduce future public defenders to the rewards of practicing in an office that is on the front line of the battle to make the promise of Gideon v. Wainwright a reality, as well as, to introduce public defender offices leading this charge to a pool of highly qualified applicants.
The Summer Law Clerk Program is designed specifically for law students who are interested in indigent defense, display characteristics of promising future public defenders and have completed at least one year of law school. Since its inception in 2010, the demand for the program has increased steadily. Potential law clerk candidates must submit an application (PDF), resume, writing sample, and two letters of recommendation. All applications and required materials are due no later than 5pm on March 1st.
Applicants who display a strong public interest academic curriculum and exhibit involvement in law clinics and volunteer groups associated with public interest work are ideal candidates for this program. Up to fifteen candidates may be selected to move forward into Round 2, which consists of a 30-minute phone interview with our Executive Director, Ilham Askia. Typically, Gideon’s Promise will notify phone interviewees of its final decision within two weeks.
Click here to view the profiles Gideon’s Promise’s 2013 Summer Law Clerks.
Our current partner offices serve as internship site locations. These offices either have full-time attorneys who have gone through our training program or public defender chiefs who have worked with our programs. Internships begin in early-June and can last anywhere from 6 to 8 weeks.
We understand the value of an amazing internship experience and how that experience can impact one’s career aspirations. Therefore, we host a mandatory three-day orientation for our law clerks prior to the internship in late May. The first day of orientation is held at our office. Interns are welcomed into the Gideon’s Promise community and given a more formal overview of the program, its benefits, and expectations. The subsequent days consist of a joint orientation held by Gideon’s Promise and The Southern Center for Human Rights. These orientations give more insight into the role of a public defender, by introducing investigative research tactics, legal writing, and the client-centered representation model to the students. There are also informative panel discussions.
All law clerks are required to create weekly journal entries of their experience, maintain a weekly activity time-sheet log, and complete an evaluation. The completion of these assignments is required for the distribution of academic credit and contributes to the overall experience in the program as well. The assignments allow interns to be more actively engaged in their experience and make it easier for them to recall memorable experiences. The evaluations assist our staff in assessing law clerks’ experiences at their respective offices and provide valuable feedback on all program aspects.
The affirmations below illustrate the value of the Gideon’s Promise Summer Law Clerk Program:
“This summer I was placed by the SPDTC* in Augusta, GA at the Augusta Circuit Public Defender’s Office. My experience in Augusta has been better than anything I could have anticipated. My summer began with a two day orientation in Atlanta, GA with the SPDTC and other organizations that have similar goals and ideals. This orientation was a great introduction to the work I would be experiencing in the next few months. It also gave me the opportunity to meet with students and attorneys interested in the same things as me. After hearing different speakers and becoming more passionate about indigent public defense I was ready to start my internship. Upon arriving in Augusta and meeting with my supervisor, I quickly learned that a day in the life of a Public Defender is somewhat of a whirlwind. Within the first few hours at my internship I observed as my supervisor met with clients, went to court to handle several matters and go visit clients at jail. As the summer progressed I learned that there really was no “typical” day. I was able to work on an appeal involving an armed robbery from several years ago, watch a jury trial from start to finish and have client interaction. In the last couple of weeks of my internship, I have been able to learn how to represent clients in bond hearings and preliminary hearings. Although, I was nervous at first, the Augusta Circuit Public Defender’s Office was extremely supportive and helped me to be comfortable speaking in the court room. I was very proud to be able to represent clients in court and feel confident that I was representing them well. Overall, my experience with the Augusta Circuit Public Defender’s Office through the Southern Public Defender Training Center will be something that I carry with me through the rest of my legal career. I now have a better understanding of the criminal justice system, and what an integral part the public defender’s office plays in fighting for the rights of indigent clients.”
– Jessica McArdle, 2L Roger Williams University School of Law
Jessica is also an award recipient of the Equal Justice Works Summer Corps Education Award for completing over 300 hours of service in our Summer Law Clerk Program.
* The Southern Public Defender Training Center became Gideon’s Promise in January 2013.
If you would like to apply to the Summer Law Clerk Program please complete the following application:
Early Decision Applications are due on December 16th at 5pm (ET); the final date to submit your application is March 1st by 5pm (ET).