Howard Finkelstein, the Public Defender for the Law Office of the Public Defender, 17th Judicial Circuit, seeks attorney applicants who are excellent communicators, dynamic and adversarial, with good courtroom skills, the ability to handle a myriad of situations in any given day, and a passion to represent the indigent in Broward County, Florida.
Assistant Public Defender Positions
Resumes are being accepted at this time for entry level positions and felony level positions.
Entry level attorneys who have volunteer or intern experience within the criminal justice system, and who have participated in a Trial Skills or Trial Advocacy course in law school, are preferred.
Felony level attorneys are required to have a minimum of two years criminal trial experience.
Applicants are expected, upon a job offer, to commit to a minimum of two years employment with this Office.
The Hiring Process
Resumes are reviewed periodically and on a continuing basis.
Applicants who demonstrate the minimum experience, trial skill, enthusiasm and desire to serve will be invited to participate in an Assistant Public Defender Applicant Orientation. These are typically held on the last Thursday of the month at 1:30 p.m. at the Law Office of the Public Defender in Fort Lauderdale.
Upon completion of an Applicant Orientation, qualified candidates may be invited to interview with the Interview Committee. These interviews are held on the second Thursday of each month.
Final selections for open positions are made after an interview with the elected Public Defender, Howard Finkelstein.
Accommodations to the hiring process may be granted for distant applicants.
To be considered for employment, applicants should submit a resume, writing sample, cover letter and references to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Legal Internship Programs
The Broward Public Defender’s Office offers two types of internships for law students and undergraduate students: certified (CLI's) and non-certified. Both programs afford invaluable experience working alongside assistant public defenders. Unfortunately, we have no paid internships.
We have no internships for non-students. We do not accept volunteer law school graduates or volunteer attorneys.
CERTIFIED LEGAL INTERNS
The certified legal internship is limited to law school students who have completed at least two years of law school and meet certification requirements set by the Supreme Court of Florida. Interns are "certified" by the state Supreme Court to represent our clients under the supervision of attorneys in our office. The interns each work closely with an experienced assistant public defender who acts as a mentor. They do everything assistant public defenders do, such as handle daily court calendars, conduct client interviews in the office and at the jails, take depositions, engage in motion practice, and try cases. The program is designed to be litigation intensive. To see if you are eligible to become a CLI see Rule 11 of the Rules Regulating the Florida Bar, http://www.floridabar.org, and contact your school to initiate the process.
NON-CERTIFIED INTERNS (VOLUNTEERS)
The non-certified internship is open to law students and undergraduate students. Internships in the Broward Public Defender’s Office may be performed for academic credit, on a "work-study", or a volunteer basis. These interns provide litigation support to our attorneys. With recent budget cuts there is plenty for interns to do to assist our attorneys. The assignments given to interns will depend on a variety of factors including any related experience, skills and interests, and how many law student interns we have. In nearly every instance interns go to the jails during their internship, so if this is something that makes you uncomfortable this internship may not be a good fit for you. Interns are typically assigned to Felony, Misdemeanor, Juvenile, Drug Court and Mental Health Court divisions of the Public Defender's Office. They get extensive experience by conducting client interviews, research and writing, assisting in the investigation of a case, attending depositions, contacting potential defense witnesses and observing courtroom procedures. The volunteer experience often leads to a law student's decision to become a Certified Legal Intern (CLI) at the Public Defender's Office, or an undergraduate’s decision to attend law school. We have a hiring preference for attorneys who have participated as CLI's in this office, or to a lesser extent, another public defender office, so starting as a volunteer intern is a very good first step.
The Broward Public Defender’s Office requires a minimum of 20 hours per week for a semester, which is difficult to do when taking a full course load. For this reason the majority of our volunteer interns join us during the summer.
Summer interns, whether attending classes or not, are required to participate for a minimum of six weeks. Although the minimum hourly requirement is 20 hours per week, the best experience will be had by those who are able to be here day in and day out enabling them to get a real view of the work our attorneys do. We realize that students have exams and many students will want to take a vacation either early or late in the summer. To the extent possible we like to have interns start in groups so that we can do some basic training on confidentiality, and on courthouse, office and jail practices. The first day of the work week is hectic in the Broward County courthouse with high numbers of jurors, witnesses and litigants, so, we usually start our volunteers on Tuesdays, or in the case of a holiday, on the second business day of the week.
We will begin accepting resumes beginning February, 2014, for summer 2014. At that time if you remain interested in interning during the summer of 2014, please email your resume to email@example.com and put “Volunteer Summer Intern 2014” in the subject line. Send your resume, your date of birth and what your ideal start date would be. Please include any other scheduling information or specific details about your circumstances that we might need to determine your acceptance and best placement. Deadline for submitting resume is April 1st.
In recent years we have received more resumes than we have openings. Therefore there is no interview process.
If you submit a resume and later have a change in plans, kindly notify us. We will begin notifying persons accepted for Summer 2014 in mid April.
PRO BONO HOURS
We are unable to accommodate students for pro bono hours UNLESS they have previously completed a semester long internship with the Broward Public Defender’s Office, OR, they commit to a minimum of 20 hours per week for a semester as described above.
“So you want to be a public defender?
Don’t do it for the money, there isn’t enough.
Don’t do it for prestige, you won’t get any.
Don’t do it for the thrill of victory, victory rarely comes.
Do it for love. Do it for justice. Do it for self-respect.
Do it for the satisfaction of knowing you are serving others,
defending the Constitution, living your ideals.
The work is hard. The law is against you.
The facts are against you. The judges are often against you.
Sometimes even your clients are against you.
But it is a great job – exhilarating, energizing, rewarding.
You get to touch people’s hearts
and fight for what you believe in every day.”
Carol A. Brook
Federal Defender of Northern District of Illinois