Description of Program

The Federal Public Defender’s Office for the Central District of California (FPD-CDCA) offers an intense and rewarding experience to law students and recent post-bar graduates who wish to volunteer in an office dedicated to the zealous defense of the indigent accused.  Through our program, law clerks assist trial lawyers in all aspects of our work, including performing legal research, drafting pleadings, analyzing discovery, assisting with trial preparation, visiting clients and helping to develop sentencing mitigation.  We offer a robust, formal training program as well as an informal training resulting from working closely with trial attorneys on case-specific projects.

Time Commitment

During the summer, law clerks agree to volunteer 40 hours a week.  During the school year, law clerks agree to volunteer anywhere from 15 hours to 40 hours a week.


Applicants to the program must be attending, or have recently graduated from, an accredited law school.  The program seeks applicants with strong written and oral communication skills and a demonstrated interest in indigent defense.

Obtaining School Credit

Many law school programs will award academic credit to participants in the law clerk program.  The requirements and procedures vary depending upon the specific school’s guidelines.   The law clerk is responsible for coordinating between their school and our office to assure that all relevant paperwork is completed and that all credit requirements are met.

How to Apply

Submit a cover letter, resume, and writing sample by email to the Trial Law Clerk Program at

For the summer program:

Direct applications are accepted on a rolling basis, with a final deadline of the last day in January.  We recommend that you submit your materials as early as possible.

For the semester program:

Applications are accepted on a rolling basis.  Again, we recommend that you submit your materials as early as possible.

In addition to accepting applications sent directly to our office, representatives from our office also attend several career fairs, such as the fairs sponsored by Equal Justice Works, Public Interest Legal Career Fair at NYU, Annual Northern California Public Interest/Public Sector Legal Careers Day, and the Annual Southern California Public Interest/Public Sector Career Day.

The FPD-CDCA is strongly committed to the principle of diversity and actively encourages applications from people of varied and diverse backgrounds.