To All My Friends Applying for Public Defender Jobs

(Image from Pinterest)

First, I love you all. You’re passionate and zealous advocates who see the humanity in the people you want to represent. That is why you’re born to be a public defender. You’re all really nervous and stressed about the application process because the job market is competitive. Also, you’re stressed because you want to become a public defender. However, I am not worried about any of you!

Second, I don’t want to leave you all hanging. So, here are some tips for your applications and interviews:

  • Your resume should list relevant criminal justice experiences. Also, your resume and interview are where you talk about your skills.
  • Your cover letter must tell the reader why you want to be a public defender:
    • You can tell a story about a case you witnessed.
    • You can tell a story about a client you worked with.
    • Or, anything along those lines.
  • Your cover letter should not be about your skills or responsibilities during your time at a different office. Your letter must be a representation of your identity and why you want to advocate for indigent people.
  • Be yourself! Don’t think about what they want to hear. You have the right instincts when it comes to answering questions. Let your personalities shine through and stick to a client-centered answer.
  • Remember: the client is your #1 priority. Yes, you have a duty to the court. But, your relationship and trust with your client come first.
  • Get your hands on every single ethical hypo possible! This is how employers weed out people. They want to see your commitment to the client and your knowledge about the law:
    • Do mock interviews before your actual ones. It will calm you down.
  • Practice your elevator pitch every damn day! You should be saying it when you’re showering, cooking, driving, exercising, etc. If someone does not come up to you and say you’re crazy for talking to yourself, then you haven’t practiced it enough! Have everyone you know listen to it. Then ask them, “does that make sense?”
  • Take several deep breaths the morning of your interview. Get all the butterflies and jitters out. Your mantra for the day (for the year): I was born to be a public defender.

Hopefully, these tips will help you achieve success. To all those applying for public defender jobs as a fallback job, pick another fallback job. Public defender offices are looking for committed advocates. Based on my experience, not everyone can be a public defender.

To all those applying for public defender jobs and internships, YOU GOT THIS!

That’s all for now.

Published by Nikita Srivastava

a passionate feminist and social justice warrior who occasionally calls herself a goddess. She received her JD in 2019 and became licensed to practice law in 2020.

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