Gettingstarted1928 wrote:I have two questions I was hoping someone could answer:
1. When should we start applying to DA/PD offices for a summer internship? I keep on hearing people talk about applying to private sector internships as early as December, but that seems a little early for DA/PD offices.
2. What does a typical day at either of these offices look like for interns? How about for attorneys working in these offices? I've always assumed the day consists mainly of research, writing memos (are memos even used in criminal law?), and court.
1. Unless you somehow know that the office won't accept applications yet, apply ASAP. Worst case scenario they'll just tell you to wait and reapply later, and you don't risk missing out on an opportunity.
2. This is totally dependent on the office. As a 1L you will probably be doing research and writing motions, interviewing witnesses and clients, and observing court. As a 2L you will be more involved in court.
1) I had one of the greatest PD experiences ever my 1L summer, and I didn't even apply for it until March. That said, at that point I'd been sending out resumes for months and freaking out from the pile of rejection letters. Competition can be fierce, especially for bigger or more prestigious opportunities; one Federal Defender office told me they interviewed 74 people for 1 internship spot. If I'd found something sooner, I'd have taken it.
I would say, A) apply ASAP for everything that is accepting applications now, but B) don't freak out if that doesn't pan out, because if you keep trying you could still find something later.
2) As mentioned above, typical day for an intern can vary greatly. There are some general expectations you can have, though. 1Ls will typically get to do more observation and lighter tasks; this can mean observing an attorney during court appearances and trials, which is still valuable learning experience. 2Ls will likely get more responsibility and more hands-on work.
For attorneys, there's a mix of activities. Very few cases actually go to trial (if I remember correctly, in NYC 99% of cases are either plead out or dismissed). However, there are plenty of other activities to keep attorneys in court, including arraignments, pre-trial motion hearings, and plea allocutions. A "typical" day could involve court appearances (arraignments, hearings, trials), meeting clients (which can mean visits to arraignment/jail), legal research and writing (someone has to write those motions), and case research (which can involve talking to the client's family and witnesses, etc.). Some days they only have to do one of those things; some days they have to do all of them.