The Law Clerk Internship Program
The Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office offers a paid 2L Honors Program each summer as well as volunteer law clerk internship programs throughout the year to students who have completed at least one full year of law school. The internship positions provide invaluable experience to individuals interested in a career in the field of criminal law. Interns have the opportunity to work closely with prosecutors in a wide variety of areas of prosecution and to attend tours of several County facilities. Interns also may attend the weekly noon time Brown Bag series where different legal topics are presented, followed by an open discussion/questions and answers period. Interns may also attend the in-house trainings.
The District Attorney’s Office has internships for 1Ls, 2Ls, 3Ls, 4Ls (part-time) and the takers of the February and July Bar Exams. The sessions are in the fall, spring, February Post Bar period, summer, and July Post Bar
Legal Internship - First-Year Law Students
Students who have completed their first year of law school are placed in a division of the office where they will be involved primarily in legal research-related assignments. They may assist in the preparation of felony and misdemeanor prosecutions and observe courtroom activities. They will learn about the anatomy of a criminal trial.
In addition, these volunteer law clerks may be asked to assist with contacting witnesses, assembling trial notebooks, reviewing transcripts, listening to tapes and CDs, and helping out in other areas depending on the needs of the office.
Legal Internship – Second, Third or Fourth Year (part-time) Students and February/July Post Bar Exam Students
Students who are in their second, third or fourth (part-time/evening) year of law school or who are awaiting State Bar (Post Bar) results are eligible for State Bar certification. In order for a Post Bar to be eligible for certification, the Post Bar student must sit for the State Bar Exam the first time the student is eligible to take it. Depending on the assignment, these students will have the opportunity to observe court hearings, conduct routine felony preliminary hearings, present evidence at suppression motions and handle matters that appear on both the felony and misdemeanor motions calendar. There are some assignments within the office which by their nature have limited opportunities for a certified law student to appear in court, such as the Homicide, Gang, and the Sexual Assault Units. Students assigned to these units will gain valuable experience in the behind the scene preparation of high profile cases. This internship is unpaid.
2L Honors Program-Summer Only
The Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office 2L Honors Program was inaugurated in 2012 with the purpose of recruiting the most qualified 2L law clerks and training them for highly skilled legal work within the office. This program is only offered in the summer, and only 2L law clerks are eligible to apply. The application process is highly competitive, and only ten students are selected for the 2L Honors Program. There is no other program available to 2L law clerks in the summer other than the Honors Program. 2L Honors Law Clerks are paid for ten weeks. This is the only paid internship at the District Attorney’s Office.
2L law clerks hired through the Honors Program are assigned to challenging positions, offering valuable legal experience and substantial individual responsibility. In an effort to broaden the 2L law clerk’s legal experience, each Honors Program Clerk is given the opportunity to rotate or “detail” into different assignments within the office, including the Misdemeanor Unit where there will be an opportunity to conduct a jury trial under the supervision of an attorney. In addition, 2L Honors Program Law Clerks receive extensive training to assist in their legal proficiency and expertise in particular practice areas.
Students will receive mock trial experience, which includes presenting opening statements and closing arguments. Students will be trained in the legal skills of research, analysis and writing; oral advocacy; case and time management; and professional demeanor. While our office cannot make specific commitments for future jobs once the 2L Honors Program Clerk passes the Bar, the Honors Program students are evaluated for future employment based on experience, summer clerkship performance, availability, need for attorneys and budget constraints. Strong preference will be given to 2L Honors Program Law Clerks who excel and successfully complete the program for future employment.
A minimum 2.5 GPA is required in order to participate in the 2L Honors Program.
State Bar Certification Rules
Under the rules of the Office of Certification/Practical Training of Law Students, the State Bar of California allows qualified law students to make appearances in court under the supervision of an experienced attorney. Post Bar students may be certified so long as they have taken the State Bar Exam the first time that they are eligible to sit for it.
In order to qualify for certification, current law students must be enrolled in their second, third or fourth year of law school and must have either successfully completed or be currently enrolled in Evidence and Civil Procedure. Please note that while the rules allow for certification of students currently enrolled in Evidence, experience has shown that individuals perform better and have a more meaningful experience if the externship occurs after the student has taken the course. Certification forms are available through your law school and the State Bar of California. The certification procedure includes a fee of $55 payable to the State Bar, and registration as a law student with the State Bar, which requires a separate fee of $108. Fees are the responsibility of the student. Please see Practical Training of Law Students (PTLS) for details.
Stanford Prosecution Clinic
In partnership with the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office and Stanford Law School, the Criminal Prosecution Clinic allows students to see the criminal justice system at work – not just by observing, but by actually prosecuting real cases themselves. The Criminal Prosecution Clinic is a one-quarter course offered in the Winter Quarter (January –March), which provides six eligible Stanford students with a rigorous and intensive exposure to criminal prosecution practice through a combination of actual trial practice and classroom work. Each of the six students is assigned to work with two deputy district attorneys. This pairing allows the student exposure to cases on the Law and Motions Team as well as cases on a felony trial team.
After a short orientation, students are given a docket of cases for which they are responsible. Under the supervision of deputy district attorneys, the students handle a variety of felony motions and conduct preliminary hearings. In addition, students have many opportunities to evaluate different styles of lawyering by watching criminal trial lawyers in action. To supplement and refine their practice experience, students attend a weekly class led by Professor George Fisher in which they discuss their pending cases and what they have encountered in court. Stanford students interested in participating in this class, should go to Criminal Prosecution Clinic for details.
Important Information for All Internship Candidates
The Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office receives applications for our internship program from candidates who have attended law schools in California and throughout the United States. The number of potential applicants well exceeds the number of interns accepted into each program. In order to ensure that well qualified candidates are able to participate in our program, absent unusual circumstances, Law Clerk Intern Candidates will only be eligible to participate in an internship program for a total of three programs, regardless of the timing of the programs. Students who have completed the 2L Summer Honors Program are exempt from this restriction. Students applying for any one of the programs must submit a completed packet at the time of application. A detailed listing of the documents an applicant needs to submit is listed below.
California Government Code §§1125 through 1127 prohibits local agency officers and employees from engaging in activities that are incompatible, inconsistent, in conflict, or inimical with their agency employment. As a volunteer intern with our office, interns are bound by these sections of the Government Code. Students selected for any of the intern programs are advised that they may not perform any work (paid or unpaid) for any criminal defense attorney during the pendency of their internship with this office. This applies even if the criminal defense work is in a different county. Students who have other outside employment/incompatible activity during the pendency of their internship must disclose this to our office for review prior to accepting the internship.
Should an intern engage in outside employment/incompatible activity after commencing the internship, the intern must immediately advise the Program Director, Deputy District Attorney Jarisse Moore. If the outside employment/incompatible activity is deemed to fall within the prohibitions of California Government Code §§1125 through 1127, the intern will not be able to remain in our program. If an intern has any questions concerning other employment/incompatible activity, they should contact the Program Director.
All students will be required to complete a Criminal Record Check Information with the submission of their application packet. These forms are thoroughly reviewed by our Bureau of Investigation, and students are encouraged to be candid. Acceptance into any one of the Internship Programs is conditioned upon the candidate passing a background check.
2020 Program Schedules/Deadlines:
Spring Session for 2Ls, 3Ls or 4Ls (part-time) (commitment minimum 20 hours a week)
January 6, 2020 – April 17, 2020
- Application Deadline: September 27, 2019
- Interviews: September 30 – October 11, 2019
- DA Notification of Candidate’s Acceptance into Program: October 18, 2019
- Candidate’s Decision to Participate in Program: November 1, 2019
February Post Bar (commitment minimum 40 hours a week)
March 2, 2020 – May 15, 2020
- Application Deadline: November 29, 2019
- Interviews: December 2 – December 13, 2019
- DA Notification of Candidate’s Acceptance into Program: December 20, 2019
- Candidate’s Decision to Participate in Program: January 3, 2020
2L Honors Summer Session (commitment minimum 40 hours a week)
June 1, 2020 – August 7, 2020
- Application Deadline: August 30, 2019
- Interviews: September 09 – 13, 2019
- DA Notification of Candidate’s Acceptance into Program: September 13, 2019
- Candidate’s Decision to Participate in Program: September 18, 2019 (tentative)
Summer Session for 1Ls only (commitment minimum 40 hours a week)
May 26, 2020 – August 7, 2020
- Application Deadline: February 7, 2020
- Interviews: February 10 – 21, 2020
- DA Notification of Candidate’s Acceptance into Program: February 28, 2020
- Candidate’s Decision to Participate in Program: March 13, 2020
July Post Bar (commitment minimum 40 hours a week)
August 24, 2020 – November 27, 2020
- Early Admissions Application Deadline: November 15, 2019
- Interviews: November 18 – November 29, 2019
- DA Notification of Candidate’s Acceptance into Program: December 6, 2019
- Candidate’s Decision to Participate in Program: December 20, 2019
- Regular Admissions Application Deadline: March 6, 2020
- Interviews: March 9 – 20, 2020
- DA Notification of Candidate’s Acceptance into Program: March 27, 2020
- Candidate’s Decision to Participate in Program: April 10, 2020
NOTE: While each internship has a specific start and end date, we realize that school schedules or other issues might necessitate minor adjustments. With advance notice, our office will do our best to accommodate these requests.
Please submit the following documents preferably scanned in one PDF file:
- Cover letter stating: a) which law clerk program you are applying for, and b) why you are interested in an internship with our office;
- Copy of your resume;
- Writing sample;
- Proof of graduation from college (a photocopy of your diploma will suffice);
- Proof that you are enrolled in law school and in good standing (a note from the registrar will suffice);
- Copy of your law school transcript;
- A color copy of your driver’s license; and
- Complete the Personal History Questionnaire (PHQ), which is a separate attachment at the bottom of this page. Please leave the “Directed to:” line blank.
For detailed information or
questions regarding the program, please contact Deputy District Attorney Deborah Hernandez at email@example.com or (408) 792-2868.
Anyone interested in the law clerk programs with the District Attorney's Office should submit the above documentation to:
Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office - HR Service Center
Law Clerk Internship Program
County Government Center –West Wing
70 West Hedding Street
San Jose, CA 95110