The Capital Habeas Unit of the Federal Community Defender for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania is pleased to accept applications for our summer internship program from law students interested in public service and criminal law.  The Capital Habeas Unit represents death-sentenced prisoners in post-conviction proceedings in Pennsylvania and other jurisdictions when appointed by the court. Through a multifaceted team approach, the Capital Habeas Unit provides its clients with the highest level of legal representation, while priding itself on treating its clients with dignity and respect.

Over the course of the summer, students will:

  • Draft motions, memoranda, and briefs.
  • Research forensic issues, including DNA, fingerprints, hair and fiber, and ballistics.
  • Assist in factual investigation and develop case strategy by reviewing and digesting medical and institutional records and transcripts of prior proceedings.
  • Assist in investigation of witnesses.
  • Meet with clients on death row to discuss their cases.
  • Observe hearings, participate in moots, and observe oral arguments.
  • Receive substantive training on all stages and facets of post-conviction litigation.

Beginning in the Fall, the Capital Habeas Unit will accept applications for internships for the summer of 2022. Applications will be considered on a rolling basis; applicants are encouraged to apply by January 2022. You can find more information about our program and the application process on our Employment page. Qualified students are encouraged to apply electronically by submitting a cover letter, resume, and transcript (unofficial is satisfactory) to Email Us. In addition, circumstances permitting, representatives from the Capital Habeas Unit will be conducting interviews at the Equal Justice Works Career Fair in Washington, D.C. and the Public Interest Legal Career Fair at New York University.

Applicants should highlight their commitment to public interest, any background or specialty in psychology, and advocacy experience. Interviews and hiring will be on a rolling basis. The internship is unpaid; however, we will work with schools and other resources to meet the criteria for work study, course credit, or other support. Students are expected to devote 40 hours per week for a ten-week program.

The Federal Community Defender is an equal opportunity employer and complies with all applicable laws prohibiting discrimination on the basis of race, color, ethnicity, religion, sex, national origin, age, ancestry, disability, status as a veteran, sexual orientation, marital/parental status, gender identity, gender expression or any other status or classification protected by federal law. We encourage students of all backgrounds to apply.