CDPL is unique among capital defense offices in its treatment of summer interns. Throughout my 1L summer, I never doubted that the attorneys, investigators, and staff of CDPL thought of me not just as an intern, but as an advocate-in-training and a future member of the profession. They were thoughtful in their assignments, generous in their mentorship, and, most importantly, fiercely devoted to their clients. I will always credit CDPL with showing me the true value of focused, zealous, and client-centered representation. Nothing could be more important when the state seeks to take the life of another human being. My summer at CDPL motivated me to apply for and win a post-graduate fellowship at the Equal Justice Initiative.
— Alison Ganem, U.C. Berkeley School of Law 2018
Each summer, CDPL hosts full-time law student interns. Our interns consistently remark on the diversity of opportunities, the rigorous intellectual environment, and the collegiality of our office. In recent summers, interns have visited clients, traveled across the state interviewing witnesses and jurors, worked on clemency cases, assisted with research and writing of direct appeal and post-conviction claims, attended capital trials, and assisted at evidentiary hearings.
We eagerly recruit both 1Ls and 2Ls to fill our summer intern positions. Because of the nature of the work our students perform, we typically do not allow split summers and we prefer that all interns begin work on the same date. We ask each intern to commit to a 10-week program, usually beginning the first work day of June. Most summers, CDPL is able to offer interns monetary compensation for their work through the Weston Fenhagen Fellowship.
We consider applications for summer internships on a rolling basis until January 31. Our goal is to make final hiring decisions by February 28.
At CDPL, I was able to assist in vigorously representing clients by drafting a cert petition to the United States Supreme Court on behalf of a man on death row, assisting at the trial of a man accused of two counts of first-degree murder, drafting a section of a direct appeal of a man sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole, and visiting death row regularly. I was also able to assist in research by interviewing jurors who had served on a capital trial. My experience at CDPL challenged me intellectually, drastically improved my skills as a lawyer, and, most importantly, cultivated a passion for the disadvantaged and vulnerable in our society.
— Dillan Edwards, University of Iowa College of Law 2018
As a CDPL intern, I had the opportunity to work on behalf of men and women for whom the death penalty is not some abstract, intellectual fascination. Everything we did as interns mattered, and the people we served immediately became part of our lives. My time at CDPL was a glimpse into life on the frontlines, and the experience stuck with me. Even after my internship, I continued to work with CDPL as a volunteer, and I remain actively involved in the representation of indigent defendants through my firm’s pro bono program. More importantly, I continue to count as friends many of the attorneys, staff members, clients and fellow interns I met at CDPL.
—Shema Mbyirukira, UNC School of Law 2010
To apply for a summer internship, fill out the online form and use the buttons below to upload the following documents in PDF format:
- Cover letter clearly articulating the applicant’s interest in death penalty defense or criminal defense work
- Current resume
- Writing sample of 10 pages or less
- Phone numbers and email addresses for two references, including at least one person familiar with your skills and abilities in a professional setting
If you are a law student seeking to volunteer at CDPL during the school year, please apply on our Volunteers page.
CDPL complies with the letter and spirit of all federal, state, and local employment discrimination laws and does not discriminate based on race, age, sex, religion, national origin, marital status, family responsibility, gender identity, sexual orientation, veteran status, or disability.