Undergraduate Legal InternOffice of the Public Defender, Maryland

Major: PSYC

Class Year: 2022

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What was a typical week like in your internship position?

At OPD, I was able to work closely alongside Public Defenders in order to cover all bases for a client before the litigation process. Unfortunately, I was an intern during the summer of the pandemic, so all of this work was done online but it was fruitful nonetheless. A typical day would include a meeting with the Public Defender whose case I was working on, transcribing notes, gathering evidence through phone calls or video footage, and writing up memos. I would had the opportunity to attend seminars to learn more about the finer details regarding working with clients and providing them a defense counsel.



What do you enjoy most about your current position?

Since I want to work as a defense attorney, I found this internship to be a glimpse at the type of work that I would be ideally doing after law school. I enjoyed the "hands-on" aspect of the internship, as I was able to help with tasks that I could see would directly affect the cases at hand. It was also very gratifying to see cases that I had helped with get dismissed in court!



How did your coursework help you in your internship?

One class that really helped me was Psychology of Interpersonal Relationships (PSYC334), as it helped me understand the kind of rapport I should build with clients in order to maximize the productivity through our calls. It was easier to extract information and to understand their points of view once I had created a professional, yet calming relationship with them. My general experience at UMD also helped me create lasting relationships with the Public Defenders I worked with.



How did you locate your internship position?

I had peers from Phi Alpha Delta and Maryland Mock Trial who had internships there in the past and I knew that working for the Office of the Public Defender would give me good experience for the kind of career I want to pursue. I found the internship application on their website. A few months after applying, I received my offer to work there!



Advice for students:

Don't be afraid to apply anywhere and everywhere. Once you have tens of applications out, it will be a much simpler process to accept the right internship offer once you have received them. Putting all your eggs in one basket and applying to only a few internships that directly match the career type you have in mind may end up detrimental in multiple ways. You may not receive that exact offer and regardless a lot of graduate schools and companies prefer people with a wide variety of experience in the field. Finally, when you are accepting an offer, be sure that you will enjoy the workplace and the responsibilities as an intern - you don't want to be signing yourself for a semester that you won't gain valuable experience from.



Intern at OPD! It's a great way to gain experience working directly in the behind-the-scenes processes of court proceedings, especially from the defense side of the attorney bench!