The mission of the Law Office of the Cook County Public Defender (“the Office”) is to protect the rights, liberties and dignity of each person whose case has been entrusted to it by providing the finest legal representation The Office was established in 1930 and defends poor people in the largest unified court system in the world. Its clients are accused of offenses ranging from traffic and misdemeanor charges to murder.
The Office is currently organized into several divisions:
- Juvenile Justice
- Legal Resources (Appeals and Post Conviction petitions)
- Felony Trial
- Multiple Defendants
- First Municipal (Misdemeanor, Traffic, Domestic Violence)
- Civil (Child Protection)
- Homicide Task Force
- Professional Development
- Rolling Meadows
- Bridgeview, and
Additionally there are several specialized units, including:
- Mitigation Division
- Forensic Science
- Trial Technology and
These divisions and the work they do are explained in more detail on the attached page Divisions of the Public Defender's Office.
Volunteer Opportunities with the Law Office of the Cook County Public Defender
The Law Office provides law, paralegal, graduate and undergraduate students the opportunity to learn more about the Criminal and Juvenile Justice Systems by participating in our internship program as a volunteer.
Students may assist attorneys in:
- trial preparation
- legal research
- client interviews
- discovery conferences
- witness preparation
- drafting pre-trial and post-trial motions, and
- Motion hearings.
The Office welcomes volunteers who are studying law or other related fields.
Law students holding a license under Illinois Supreme Court Rule 711 may work in court under the direct supervision of a licensed attorney.
The Office does NOT offer paid internships. All intern positions are on a volunteer basis. Interns typically commit to a 6 to 12 week assignment. They are assigned to work with specific attorneys and/or on specific projects and are expected to volunteer at least 16 hours per week during the summer, fall, or spring program. Each intern may be assigned to any of the divisions within the office provided they meet the qualifications to work in that division and can provide their own transportation to that location. At the conclusion of the clerkship, students are evaluated by their supervisors and will have the opportunity to evaluate their experience within the office. Any student who would like to continue to volunteer after their initial assignment must submit a new application.
Qualifications and Application Procedure The Office accepts as volunteers: Students aged 18 and older, who are currently enrolled in an accredited school, or Individuals who have graduated from law school, but who have not yet been admitted to the Illinois bar. All volunteers must comply with the application process and meet the required qualifications prior to performing any duties. All persons interested in applying for a volunteer position must fill out and file an application online at Cook County Employment Listings here.
Only completed applications will be considered. Please note that applications are only accepted within a posting schedule and deadlines will be enforced. If you are accepted as a volunteer, you must schedule an appointment to finalize your assignment, work hours, class credit and/or stipend requirements. You may also discuss other forms your school may require (if applicable) and ask any questions you may have about what to expect from a typical day at the PD Office. If you wish to apply for certification under Illinois Supreme Court Rule 711, please visit these web pages.