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Client-centered, community-oriented defense for a fair and just New Orleans

Investigator Internship

The Orleans Public Defenders is seeking individuals interested in criminal justice and indigent defense to participate in its investigation internship program. OPD hosts this semester-long internship program year-round. Interns in the program investigate and assist with case preparation on criminal cases before the Orleans Parish Criminal District Court.

Upcoming Classes, Dates, & Deadlines

Spring 2018

Application Deadline: November 13, 2017
Acceptance Notice: November 24, 2017
Mandatory Training: January 20-21, 27, 2018
Term: January 22 - April 13, 2018

Summer 2018 - Class 1

Application Deadline: March 1, 2018
Acceptance Notice: week of March 19, 2018
Mandatory Training: May 30-June 1, 2018
Term: June 4 - August 10, 2018

Summer 2018 - Class 2

Application Deadline: April 16, 2018
Acceptance Notice: Week of May 7, 2018
Mandatory Training: July 11-13, 2018
Term: July 16 - September 7, 2018

Fall 2018

Application Deadline: June 25, 2018
Acceptance Notice: July 16, 2018
Mandatory Training: September 15-16, 22, 2018
Term: September 17 - December 7, 2018

What Intern Investigators Do

This is not a desk job. Intern Investigators work with their partners as the lead investigators on criminal cases, ranging from misdemeanors to felonies, throughout the streets of New Orleans. As an Intern Investigator you will have a significant impact on your clients’ cases and it may be your work that proves your clients' innocence and saves him or her from an unjust conviction.  

Each Intern Investigator will be partnered with another Intern Investigator for the semester. As an Intern Investigator, you, your partner, and your assigned attorney(s) along with a staff investigator and one or two law clerks will make up small case teams with whom you will work with for the duration of the semester. Interns are involved with all aspects of defense investigation and, though their principal responsibility will be investigation, they frequently assist public defenders with other aspects of trial preparation.  

Examples of typical work for Intern Investigators include: 

  • Locating and interviewing witnesses,
  • Taking statements,
  • Photographing crime scenes,
  • Writing investigative reports,
  • Testifying in court,
  • Performing background checks, and
  • Assisting attorneys throughout the trial preparation process. 

 What Interns Gain from this Program

This internship will give you a unique insight into the criminal justice system, especially the criminal justice system in New Orleans. You will be in a position to have a profound impact on people’s lives, an impact that many people will never, in their entire professional careers, have the opportunity to effect. The experiences (and stories) will provide you with a foundation for a diverse field of academic disciplines and future careers from law to sociology. Your experience with our internship program will also demonstrate responsibility and commitment to service to graduate schools including law school.  

Although the program is unpaid, depending on your university’s and department’s requirements, you may be eligible to receive academic credit for your participation in it. It will be your responsibility to arrange to receive academic credit for your internship though we are happy to assist you as necessary.

 Qualifications and Elligibility Requirements

We do not require that interns have prior experience in criminal investigation or that they have specific academic backgrounds. All intern investigators will participate in an extensive training program where they will be taught the methods of a proper defense investigation, strategies for talking to witnesses, and other skills needed to become a successful investigator. Qualities we typically see in successful intern investigators are: responsibility, good judgment, ability to empathize, and commitment to community service.  

Candidates should carefully evaluate their other commitments and responsibilities (both curricular and extracurricular) in deciding if they will be able to dedicate the time to this internship that it demands. Interns should expect to work at least ten to fifteen hours per week on this internship during the fall or winter semesters and at least twenty during the summer. For the summer program, we prefer applicants who are committed to work full time during the summer months. The work Intern Investigators do is critical to our effective representation of our clients so we expect our interns to be diligent, responsible, and to live up to their commitments.  

To be eligible, candidates must be able to attend the full training program at the beginning of the program. If you are not able to attend the training in its entirety, please contact the Investigator Supervisor. If a sufficient number of candidates are unable to attend the training on the scheduled date(s) an additional training may be added.


Because of the gravity of our work and the substantial effort required in supervising and training interns, we ask that interns commit at least fifteen hours per week to the internship during the school year and at least twenty hours per week to the internship during the summer. We give strong preference to candidates able to commit to more hours per week, and, during the summer, particularly seek candidates able to commit to the internship full time. 

Your schedule is otherwise fairly flexible; barring a witness who needs to meet with you at a specific time, setting your schedule will largely be up to you and your partner, in consultation with your supervisor. However, in exchange for the latitude we give you to set your own schedule, we occasionally ask for flexibility on your part including working irregular hours or weekends. This is not a 9-5 desk job and witnesses are not always available during normal business hours.

 Availability of an Automobile

Because of the amount of fieldwork required in this job, at least one intern in every intern partnership must have a car; thus we will only accept as many interns without cars into the program as we have interns with cars. While we will make every attempt to hire enough Intern Investigators with cars that every partnership has access to a car, the unexpected can and does occur. In the event that an Intern Investigator with a car withdraws from the program at the last minute, an Intern Investigator without a car’s job may be limited to in-office or in-court work. Thus we encourage anyone who may be able to secure access to a car for the duration of the internship to do so. We reimburse interns for mileage at the Louisiana state mileage rate. 

 Application Instructions

Applications are accepted and reviewed on a rolling basis.

We have two separate deadlines for applications for each semester. Submitting your application by the first deadline, the priority deadline, guarantees early consideration of your application. The second deadline is the final deadline, after which applications will not be considered for that semester. During some semesters, usually summer, we have multiple classes of interns with different start and end dates, although applications for all are due at the same time. 


Students interested in applying for this program must submit the following: 

  1. Resume
  2. Writing sample - Please include a brief (no more than 500 words) statement of interest 
  3. Transcripts 
  4. If you will be in school during your internship and have registered for classes please include your class schedule. 

Applicants must complete the online application. Please email all other required materials to Nicole Heisser

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Find Us

Orleans Public Defenders
2601 Tulane Avenue
Suite 700
New Orleans, LA 70119
    Tel: (504) 821-8101
    Fax: (504) 821-5285