Investigative Internship Program
History of the Investigative Internship Program
Recognizing the need for high quality representation for indigent criminal defendants, the Criminal Justice Clinic was founded in 1960. Our goal is to ensure that persons charged with criminal offenses have access to top-notch legal services, so we provide them with energetic, innovative and dedicated attorneys. As part of the Criminal Defense & Prisoner Advocacy Clinic, Criminal Justice Clinic, and the Juvenile Justice Clinic, the Investigative Internship Program was founded in 1985 and continues to be an integral part of our success. Our investigators work closely with Clinic attorneys in all aspects of pre-trial preparation and, in exchange, we offer a hands-on educational and working environment.
Investigative Internship Program
A. Duties of the Investigative Intern
A thorough investigation of a criminal case is a prerequisite to a good defense. A defense investigator’s job is to ascertain the strengths and weaknesses of the government’s case and to provide a basis for the defense theory. In many cases handled by the Clinic, the prosecutor is not required to disclose facts that are critical to the case or will not provide the information in a format or time period that is useful. Pre-trial defense investigation is therefore necessary to properly advise the client, make strategic decisions about the case, and to prepare for trial.
Investigative responsibilities include but are not limited to: locating and interviewing witnesses in both the field and local correctional facilities; drafting statements and memoranda for use in court hearings and at trial; conducting comprehensive criminal background checks; locating, collecting, reviewing and summarizing all written records and documentation that is relevant to the case; photographing, measuring and diagramming crime scenes and creating demonstrative evidence for trial. Interns conduct all investigation in pairs.
Lastly, interns are responsible for assisting the attorney in last-minute trial preparation and resolving issues that arise while the attorney is in trial. Interns coordinate defense witnesses, making sure that they are subpoenaed and have transportation to the courthouse. Investigators will also have to testify in some cases.
Investigative interns are involved in all aspects of case preparation including providing strategic recommendations. Attorneys are encouraged to include their interns on consultations, plea negotiations, client meetings and strategy sessions.
B. Structure of the Internship Program
Each fall, spring, and summer semester, the Investigative Internship Program has 6 positions available. All undergraduate students, recent graduates and graduate students are eligible. (More information on qualifications can be found in the section covering the selection process.)
During the first week of the program, interns are trained in investigative strategies and techniques, legal concepts, and the application of the law in criminal cases. The training week has relatively set hours – each day begins by 9:00 a.m. and ends at approximately 5:00 p.m. At the conclusion of the training week, each intern is assigned an investigative partner and two attorneys.
Once the assignments have been made, interns begin investigating cases. They are assisted by comprehensive investigative directions and daily guidance from both their attorneys and the Investigations Supervisor. Interns work on a variety of cases–some are newly acquired and others have been partially investigated. Most interns are able to participate in all phases of pre-trial development, and to gain a deep understanding of the criminal justice process.
C. Duration of the Internship
All interns are required to commit to a minimum of 15 weeks during the spring and fall terms or 12 weeks during the summer term. Because many students who participate in the program are undergraduate students enrolled in a college on a semester schedule, the commencement and conclusion dates are consistent with those schedules. Interns may sometimes be permitted to take off days over the course of the term, but applicants should not make plans that create significant conflicts during the internship.
The beginning and ending dates for each term are noted below. Interns must be available full time the first week of the internship, in order to attend the mandatory training sessions. Interns may not complete the internship earlier than the date listed; however, the internship can be extended by several weeks. Since the time between ending and beginning terms is often difficult for clinic attorneys, it is helpful if interns can stay a week or two beyond the ending date. Applicants who are able to extend their stay at the Clinic should note it on the materials they submit.
Interns who attend schools on a quarter or trimester schedule:
Students attending schools that do not follow a semester schedule may still be eligible for an internship. Students that are on a trimester schedule should apply for a fall or summer term. Quarter students can still complete the internship even if they are on a quarter schedule because the beginning and ending dates generally coincide with break times.
Interns who are participating in Washington Semester programs:
Exemptions for the time commitment can be made if you are involved in a Washington Semester program that has a predetermined length and your housing provisions are dependent upon those provided in the program. The ability to make exemptions will depend upon the current needs of the Clinic. Contact the Investigations Supervisor if you would like to request an exemption.
D. Time Requirements
Investigative interns must be able to commit to a minimum of 4 full days per week although a full time commitment is preferred. The Clinic has found that it is difficult for interns to fully realize the benefits of the internship if their schedules are too limited, and it would be nearly impossible for the interns to complete the investigative work on their cases in less than 4 days/week. Interns with fewer time constraints are given preference.
Training Week Conflicts:
Interns must be available full time the first week of the internship, in order to attend the mandatory training sessions.
After the first week of training, interns should expect that they will have some work that will need to be accomplished during non-business hours. For instance, some witnesses are only available during evening or weekend hours, and days leading up to a trial are generally longer due to last-minute preparation. As a result, interns should expect that they will be working some odd hours and plan accordingly. Interns are not expected to work during times that they are scheduled for class, work, seminars or other required activities. However, interns must allow for some flexibility outside of those requirements.
Regardless of whether an intern is scheduled to work full-time during the term, every intern is required to complete the entire first-week training session.
E. Training Program
Investigative interns are expected to accomplish professional-level investigative work, and because interns are not required to have training or background in criminal law or investigations, great emphasis is placed upon both the initial orientation and on-going training and support. The initial training week focuses on the mechanics of defense investigation, understanding defense theories, narrative interviewing, statement and memo construction, locating witnesses, ethical guidelines, and techniques for field work. The supplemental meetings teach interns more about substantive criminal law in the District and how those principles should shape their tactics and focus the scope of their investigation. Topics selected are often based upon input from the interns – topics of special interest can be added by request. Previous topics have included discussion of Fourth Amendment searches and seizures, investigative strategies to support sentencing recommendations, the application of the Gregory doctrine to witness contacts and interviews, and more detailed information on police procedures.
F. Work Location
The Criminal Justice Clinic is located within the Law Center’s main building. The D.C. courthouse, federal district courthouse, police headquarters, mayor’s office and the prosecutor’s office are all within walking distance. For students without access to a car, the Law Center is accessible by public transportation.
Although the interns will spend time in their attorneys’ offices, the Clinic also has a large student workroom and a computer lab for the interns to use. The majority of investigative work, however, is accomplished in the field. Interns will travel throughout D.C., Maryland, and Virginia neighborhoods and to local courthouses and police stations. It is common for everyone involved in investigation – investigators, law students, attorneys, and professors – to spend a significant amount of time in high-crime areas of the city.
G. Access to Transportation
The Clinic needs three investigators each term with access to a car. Many of the communities in which the investigations are conducted are not easily accessible by public transportation, so one member of each intern team must be able to drive. Locations traveled to include the homes of witnesses, crime scenes, jails, and prisons. Interns who use their cars for investigation must maintain their own automobile insurance as the clinic funds do not allow for separate coverage.
Investigators who use their cars for this internship are reimbursed for mileage while investigating and are given free parking privileges (including overnight) in the garage at the Law Center. The three interns who do not have cars will be paired with the interns who have cars.
Because of the high demand for parking spaces at the Law Center, the Clinic is limited to three parking permits for intern use. As a result, if the Clinic wishes to accept more than three interns with cars, sufficient parking may not be available for all interns each day. Some interns with cars prefer to be paired with another intern with a car because driving days can be alternated, however, students commuting from outside the city may be limited by the lack of public transportation. If you have access to a car and are able to – and willing to- be paired with another intern with a car, please indicate as such on your application.
Access to a car and a willingness to share a parking permit will in no way affect the strength of your application. Although the Clinic needs three interns with cars, the Clinic also needs students without cars because of the parking limitations.
The atmosphere in the Clinic offices is informal, and casual clothing such as jeans, t-shirts and sneakers are encouraged for field investigation. On occasion, business attire will be necessary, especially when interns are testifying in court, but that will be infrequent.
For interns who are not from the D.C. area, a housing bulletin is available upon acceptance to the program. The bulletin details options for short term housing, area descriptions, and other services available. Interns may also request that their names be released to other interns seeking housing if a shared housing situation is desired.
Each term, certain resources and opportunities are available to interns who are interested in attending law school, including:
- A meeting with the Director of Admissions for Georgetown University Law Center
- Training on Lexis and Westlaw
- Free access to the law library
- LSAT prep materials in the clinic
J. Tour-Lecture Series
The Clinic strives to provide investigative interns with an educational and rewarding experience. Therefore, to broaden the interns’ exposure to the criminal justice system, several tours and lectures are offered each term. Past tours have included the Medical Examiner’s Office, where interns have had the opportunity to view an autopsy; the Supreme Court and the U.S. Capitol; the Mobile Crime Unit of the Metropolitan Police Department, which collects physical evidence at crime scenes; St. Elizabeth’s Hospital, which provides residential treatment to more than 200 men and women with series mental illnesses; and the DC Jail and F.B.I. buildings.
Previous interns have also participated in ride-alongs with the Metropolitan Police Department and DC Fire and EMS, and interns are encouraged to “court watch” criminal hearings or trials in their free time.
Certain tours are subject to availability and may not be available every term.
K. Financing the Internship
The Investigative Internship Program is an unpaid internship. The Clinic does not have funding to pay investigative interns, but participants are reimbursed for on-the-job mileage and work related expenses. For interns inside the Washington Metropolitan area, the costs are minimal. For interns who are traveling to D.C., for this internship, the cost of the internship will be living expenses. Housing is generally the greatest expense, but as indicated above, assistance in identifying less expensive housing is provided.
The Clinic does not want a potential applicant’s limited finances to prevent participation, so applicants are encouraged to seek outside funding. Some non-profit foundations and many schools now offer financial assistance to students who participate in unpaid public interest internships.
L. Receiving Academic Credit for the Internship
Many investigative interns are undergraduate students who are receiving academic credit for the internship. The amount of credit that is awarded varies between schools and departments. It is the responsibility of the intern to identify the college and departmental requirements of receiving credit and to select and make arrangements with a faculty sponsor, if appropriate. The Investigations Supervisor will submit any documentation needed to facilitate credit arrangements between interns and their home schools.
An intern at the Criminal Justice Clinic is not enrolled at Georgetown University and does not receive academic credit from the Law Center. Any credit awarded must be granted by the school in which a student is enrolled.
M. Insurance Requirements
All participants in the Investigative Internship Program (IIP) are required to have health insurance and must submit verification of coverage prior to commencing work. Because interns in the Clinic are not registered students of Georgetown University, they are not eligible for coverage. In order to satisfy this requirement, each participant must have coverage provided through a private insurance carrier, a college health plan, or another source of coverage. Other providers include military or special government plans. (Please note that if health insurance is provided through a military or government plan, the insured will need to provide information that explains eligibility for coverage.)
In addition to providing the Clinic verification of insurance, each intern should also determine to what extent his/her insurance makes provisions for medical services outside the jurisdiction in which the plan was issued.
If a candidate is applying for one of the four clinic positions that requires access to a car, the vehicle must be insured and participants must be prepared to present proof of automobile insurance upon acceptance to the program. The Clinics have neither the ability nor the authority to provide insurance to drivers within the Clinic. All members, including clinic staff and faculty, are covered by their own personal insurance.
Although the degree of coverage will not be reviewed, it is advisable for participants to assess the appropriateness of the terms and limits of their plans.
N. Health and Safety Guidelines
The Investigative Internship Program requires interns to spend a great deal of time conducting field work, and because much of that work must be accomplished in high-crime areas of the city, it is important that all interns be aware of the potential risks. It is also important that interns understand the expectations of the Criminal Justice Clinic and abide by all safety guidelines and procedures. It is important to note that while the Clinic cannot guarantee safety, there have been more than 400 participants in the program since its inception in 1989 and none have suffered serious injury or property loss. Participants have sometimes reported minor incidents, but the program is fortunate in its safety record.
The work of an investigative intern at the Criminal Justice Clinic involves direct contact with witnesses and defendants in the field. Participants will be conducting interviews of witnesses in their homes and in the streets, and interns may be going door to door looking for potential witnesses. In the course of an investigation, interns will also frequently come into contact with non-involved persons in the field, including some individuals involved in illegal activity. As a result, they are sometimes greeted with reluctance or even hostility. The inner-city may not be a comfortable work environment for everyone.
Given the possible risks, the Clinic provides instruction in safety and conflict resolution during the initial training week. Interns are taught strategies for avoiding or minimizing risks and are provided guidelines for resolving difficult or threatening situations, should they arise. The Clinic cannot, however, control the actions of others. Interns are provided with information on Clinic requirements relating to conduct and the consequences of noncompliance. Despite the training, the Clinic cannot control the individual decisions of interns in the field, nor can participants be prevented from engaging in illegal or unwise activities.
Applicants are urged to consider all potential risks before making the decision to apply. Applicants are also encouraged to disclose any information that would be relevant to the Clinic in determining eligibility, and to discuss any circumstances or conditions that could impact health and safety. The Clinic also expects that applicants will discuss the program with parents, guardians, spouses or anyone else who might need to know, before accepting an offer to participate. Interns are expected to provide such persons with emergency contact information and to keep all relevant persons informed during the course of the internship. Given the degree of responsibility afforded to participants, and the potential risks inherent to inner-city field work, all interns are required to attend all training and orientation sessions provided by the program supervisor.
Investigative Internship Application Process
A. Who Should Apply?
For anyone contemplating a career in law or criminal justice, this internship is an excellent opportunity for hands-on learning and experience in the field. Interns have an opportunity to learn about the law by being involved in all aspects of its practice. Also, interns are surrounded by law students and professors who are willing to speak candidly about life as a law student and lawyer. All Clinic members are committed to ensuring that investigative interns receive an educational and rewarding experience. As a result, interns leave with a fuller understanding of the legal system and specifically of the criminal justice process. They also are able to make informed decisions about whether or not this work is appropriate for them, and have a source for recommendations and job advice when they leave.
This internship, however, is not right for everyone. First, the Criminal Justice Clinic is a litigation clinic with all of the tight deadlines and long hours involved in trial work. Interns will certainly have time for interests outside the office, but those who mind working odd and sometimes long hours will not enjoy the pace of this work. Second, some people find criminal law too emotional and criminal defense law incompatible with their beliefs. The Clinic represents persons charged with criminal offenses, and some are uncomfortable with the defense role in the adversary process. Third, this internship centers around investigative field work. Interns need to travel throughout the city to accomplish their investigations. Those areas will often include places that are reputed to be tough. If a potential applicant is extremely uncomfortable with the notion of working in urban communities, this may not be the right internship. This does not mean, however, that interns do not often have some trepidation about working in unfamiliar communities – some apprehension is common.
So why should you apply? The best interns usually want to learn about the law by actually working in it. By the end of this internship, every intern should have an opinion about our adversarial system of justice that is well-grounded in fact and experience. This position is also a chance to perform some needed public service. The indigent clients who come through the Clinic have no funds to pay for investigators, yet cases are often won or lost on the basis of investigation. If you believe that the quality of legal representation should not be determined by the income of the accused, you have a place in this Clinic.
Our interns play a vital role in the defense team and are treated as professionals with real substantive responsibility. At the Clinic, interns are exposed to a wide range of criminal cases and make a significant contribution to improving the way that justice is administered. This is also a small program, so the investigations supervisor, attorneys and professors are able to devote individualized attention to investigative interns. As a teaching clinic, importance is placed upon developing an understanding of clients’ experiences, the relationship between the defense role and the justice system, and the ways that current trends in law affect the criminal justice system.
In conclusion, if you are interested in a challenging and substantive experience in the field of criminal law, we invite you to apply. The experience that you will receive, the skills you will develop, and the professional growth that you will gain guarantees that this will be a full and rewarding experience.
B. Program Dates: 2018-2019
||Ending Date (minimum)|
||January 6, 2020||May 15, 2020|
||May 26, 2020||August 14, 2020|
||August 24, 2020||December 11, 2020|
* Training weeks that begin with a Monday holiday do not commence until Tuesday as indicated. On those weeks, training concludes the following Monday.
C. Online Application Form
D. Application Deadlines and Notification Dates
The application deadline for each term is noted below. It is important to note, however, that decisions are made on a rolling basis. This means that some of the spots are often filled before the deadline date, so it is advisable to apply early. Occasionally, positions may still be available after application deadline and you should contact the Investigations Supervisor to inquire about availability. Applicants will receive a decision on their application no later than the notification date listed in the chart below.
In the event that an application deadline falls on a non-business day, applications will be accepted until 5:00 p.m. of the first business day following the deadline date. If the deadline falls on a business day, applications are due by 5:00 p.m. that day. If positions are filled or a candidate does not learn of the internship until after the deadline has passed, referrals are sometimes available to similar programs. Contact the Investigations Supervisor for more information.
||November 18, 2019||December 6, 2019|
||April 1, 2020||April 17, 2020|
||June 19, 2020||July 10, 2020|
E. Selection Process
1. Minimum Qualifications:
The internship is open to students at accredited four-year colleges, college graduates, or graduate students. With respect to undergraduate students, juniors and seniors are preferred, but freshmen and sophomores are sometimes accepted. Participants from a variety of academic majors are generally accepted, and all majors are eligible. Previous exposure to or experience in the fields of law, criminal justice, or public service is helpful but is not required.
Applicants should be able to demonstrate that they can devote a sufficient amount of time to this internship. (See time requirements for explanation.) The Clinic needs interns who can make their investigative responsibilities a significant priority. Interns must also be able to demonstrate strong communication skills in the application process. The ability to easily communicate with persons of differing backgrounds, values and cultures, and to document work in written form that is appropriate for use in court, is crucial to investigative work.
Other Supplemental Application Materials:
Some applicants choose to submit additional materials with their applications. Applicants are welcome to submit additional materials. Some examples include:
- publications, such as articles written for a paper
- writing samples (other than essays)
- projects/proposals developed for a previous job
- descriptions/copies of awards that have been won
Regardless of the additional materials submitted, all normal requirements of the application still apply. For instance, a separate writing sample cannot be substituted for responses to the essays.
2. Process of Selecting Interns
Each applicant will be evaluated based upon the quality of the application, the strength of input from references, and the overall quality of past work and academic performance. Applicants who feel that they are lacking in a specific area should not be discouraged from applying – the strength of applicants is assessed by looking at qualifications collectively. No prerequisite course work or prior related experience is necessary, but some understanding of the criminal justice system is helpful.
The Investigations Supervisor will attempt to conduct telephone interviews with each applicant during the evaluation period. Applicants should assume, however, that there will be no phone interview and should submit everything they wish to be considered either with the application or in a supplemental mailing. Letters of recommendation and IIP recommendation forms are not required but are sometimes helpful. If an applicant wishes to submit such letters, they may be included in the application packet or mailed separately. For full consideration, any additional materials should be submitted by the application deadline.