Who Should Apply?

For anyone contemplating a career in law, criminal justice, or investigative reporting, this internship is an excellent opportunity for hands-on learning and experience. 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, post-graduate fellows, and clinic professors who are willing to speak candidly about life as a law student and lawyer. The clinics 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 legal process. They also can make informed decisions about whether 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, our clinics are litigation clinics with all 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 incompatible with their values. The clinics represent poor individuals charged with a variety of criminal offenses, and some are uncomfortable with the defense role in the adversary process. Third, the crux of this internship is 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 very uncomfortable with the notion of working in urban communities, this may not be the right internship. However, some trepidation about working in unfamiliar communities is to be expected. Therefore, we provide intensive training and interns investigate in pairs.

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 an important public service. The indigent clients who come through the clinics have no funds to pay for investigators, yet cases are often won or lost on the strength of our 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 program.

Our interns play a vital role in the defense team and are treated as professionals with real responsibility. 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 clinic professors are able to devote individualized attention to investigative interns. As a teaching clinic, we emphasize the importance of developing an understanding of clients’ experiences, the relationship between the defense role and the legal system, and the ways that current trends in the law affect the criminal legal system.

In conclusion, if you are interested in a deep, substantive experience in the field of criminal law, we invite you to apply. The experience you will receive, the skills you will develop, and the professional growth you will gain guarantee that this will be a rewarding experience.

Selection Process

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 first-year students 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 program 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.

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 only conduct video interviews with applicants who have been selected to move forward in the process, so a video interview is not guaranteed, and applicants should submit everything they wish to be considered either with the application or in a supplemental email. 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 emailed separately. For full consideration, any additional materials should be submitted by the application deadline.

Online Application Form

Complete and Submit the Investigative Internship Application.

Student interns sitting on the footsteps of McDonough Hall

Spring 2024 Investigative Interns