Public Defender Externship


Public Defender Externship (LAW 75733)

The Public Defender Externship is the Law School’s longest-running externship program. Students assist actual public defenders in representing indigent clients at the St. Joseph County Courthouse—Trial and Misdemeanor Division and at the Juvenile Justice Center. Students can expect to represent clients in many capacities, some of which include negotiating plea bargains with prosecutors; preparing and conducting bench trials; interviewing and subpoenaing witnesses; writing and filing discovery motions; and other activities within the administration of justice. Students are expected to work at the courthouse one full morning or afternoon each week. Besides the courtroom experience, students attend class sessions that feature prosecutors, police officers, public defenders, judges, and probation officers lecturing on their duties as officers of the court. Students must also enroll in the separate one-credit Legal Externship-Public Defender-Ethics course as a pre-requisite or co-requisite. This course does not meet the Skills Requirement.

Students who have completed the externship requirements of LAW 75733 may enroll for additional cocurricular credit (LAW 75735) in a subsequent semester. Students may work in the Trial and Misdemeanor Division at the St. Joseph County Courthouse or may assist felony public defenders. Those who work for the felony public defenders must agree to work at least 60 hours over the course of the semester. This course does not meet the Skills Requirement.

Click here for a 30-minute informational session on the program.

Instructor: Professor Gerard Bradley