The Public Defender represents the majority of indigent citizens facing criminal and delinquency prosecution in New Hampshire. It engages in “vertical” representation, meaning that staff attorneys represent clients from the time they are appointed to final disposition in the trial-level court. Staff attorneys do not handle their clients’ appeals to the New Hampshire Supreme Court.
The Program is a private, non-profit corporation dedicated to insuring that New Hampshire fulfills its constitutional obligation of equal justice for all by providing client-centered representation to indigent defendants. To achieve that mission, the Program fosters a work environment that encourages creativity and teamwork.
Each of the New Hampshire Public Defender’s ten trial offices and its appellate office is staffed by a Managing Attorney, an Office Administrator, Legal Assistants, Investigators and Attorneys. The Program also has an Information Technology Department that services its technology infrastructure, including phones and computers. Legal Assistants, Investigators, and Information Technology staff are hired as positions become open.
Investigators provide essential support for staff attorneys and their clients by interviewing potential witnesses, subpoenaing witnesses, writing reports, obtaining important documents, and collecting information that may help clients in sentencing hearings. The best candidates have a bachelor’s level degree, excellent interpersonal skills, and solid writing ability. The Program’s Investigators have diverse backgrounds, but are all deeply dedicated to the representation of its clients.
To apply for an investigator position, submit a resume, cover letter, and transcript (unofficial is fine) to our Recruiting Coordinator through the Current Legal Openings portal below or click here.
Social workers work directly with clients facing criminal charges with substance use disorders and/or mental health issues and assists them in accessing appropriate care. Social workers also work with witnesses and families of clients to prepare social histories to be used in court. Important skills for the position include the ability to communicate effectively, document information accurately, deal effectively and compassionately with a wide variety of individuals, maintain confidentiality, work independently, and manage time effectively.
To apply for an Social Worker position, submit a resume, cover letter, and transcript (unofficial is fine) to our Recruiting Coordinator through the Current Legal Openings portal below or click here.
The Program employs Legal Assistants to provide support to its staff attorneys. Each Legal Assistant works for three to four staff attorneys. Legal Assistants type correspondence and motions, open and close cases, answer phones, calendar court and meeting dates for attorneys, and frequently deal directly with the Program’s clients. The best candidates have experience working in a busy law office, excellent interpersonal skills, are comfortable with Word-based programs, and are dedicated to the representation of the Program’s clients.
To apply for a legal assistant position, submit a resume, cover letter, and transcript (unofficial is fine) to our Recruiting Coordinator at NHPD-HumanResources@nhpd.org
Every Fall, the Program recruits Staff Attorneys to work in its ten trial offices. The number of open positions varies each year. Applications are accepted between August 1 and November 15 of the applicant’s third year in law school.
Applicants for Staff Attorney positions must be entering or in their final year of law school and be on track to graduate from an accredited law school. The Program also welcomes applicants who have graduated from law school, are pursuing a judicial clerkship or fellowship, and want to begin their public defender careers immediately after their clerkship or fellowship ends. In addition, an applicant must be a member of the New Hampshire Bar, eligible to waive into the New Hampshire Bar with a qualifying Uniform Bar Examination score, or qualified for and prepared to take and pass the New Hampshire Bar Examination. The examination is given in Concord every February and July, with registration typically required by December 1 for the February exam, and May 1 for the July exam. Most applicants take the exam during the July session that precedes the start of new lawyer training in late August.
Successful applicants will have pursued and distinguished themselves in academic coursework which prepares them for a career as a public defender, such as courses in evidence, trial advocacy, criminal procedure and constitutional law. In addition, successful applicants pursue opportunities to participate in criminal clinical programs offered by their law schools, or internship and externship opportunities at public defender offices.
Upon acceptance of an offer of employment, new hires will submit their top three choices for office placement. They will know by the time they graduate what office they will be in. After new lawyer training, new public defenders will start out with a small case load consisting of misdemeanor and juvenile cases. Each new lawyer is assigned a mentor, who will meet with the lawyer at least weekly. The Managing Attorney, who assigns cases within each office, will carefully monitor the new lawyer’s case load. Over time, the new lawyer will receive more misdemeanor and juvenile cases, and will begin to receive felony cases, and co-counsel felony cases with senior attorneys, within the first few months of employment. A typical new lawyer, by the end of the first year, carries a case load consisting of roughly twenty-five misdemeanors, twenty-five felonies, and twenty-five other cases (juveniles, probation violations, other adult post-conviction matters).
The Program’s 130 lawyers come from law schools in every New England state, as well as New York, Pennsylvania, District of Columbia, Virginia, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Utah, North Carolina, Texas, California and the United Kingdom. Prospective applicants can submit a resume, a cover letter, and a current law school transcript (unofficial is fine) to our Recruiting Coordinator through the job portal below. The Program also accepts applicants through resume collections at many law schools and sends representatives to public interest job fairs, such as the Equal Justice Works fair in late October.
The Program considers applications from experienced attorneys (i.e., laterals) as need arises. A lateral attorney does not go through new lawyer training before handling cases. The best lateral candidates have a demonstrated commitment to indigent criminal defense, extensive practical experience, and are either members in good standing of the New Hampshire Bar, or are eligible for admission by waiver. The Program has hired lateral attorneys from private practice as well as those who have been public defenders in Massachusetts, California, Colorado, and Florida. Interested lateral attorneys should submit a resume, a cover letter, and a law school transcript (unofficial is fine) to our Recruiting Coordinator through the Current Legal Openings portal below or click here.
Second Year Summer Internship Program
New Hampshire Public Defender employs legal interns who have completed their second year of law school. These full-time, ten-week internships usually run from the beginning of June until early to mid-August. These are unpaid positions, but many interns are able to secure grants or outside funding. Students are reimbursed for on the job mileage. All interns must have a driver’s license and insured vehicle.
Legal interns are treated like lawyers rather than “law clerks.” They handle misdemeanor and juvenile cases under attorney supervision. Interns have extensive client contact. They appear on the record and represent clients at bail hearings, scheduling conferences, review hearings, motion hearings, and trials. In addition, interns may have the opportunity to co-counsel a jury trial. By the end of the summer, interns entering their third year of law school have a firm understanding of what it is like to be a public defender.
Successful applicants for legal internship positions have excellent grades and have demonstrated their commitment to indigent criminal defense through volunteer, internship, or clinical experiences during law school. NHPD limits its intern class to insure that each intern is well-supported and supervised.
In the past few years, NHPD has hired interns from the University of Maine, University of New Hampshire, Vermont Law School, Harvard, Boston College, Georgetown, George Washington, Stanford, Columbia, New York University, University of Pennsylvania, University of Michigan, University of Texas and the University of Georgia. NHPD only selects interns that it believes have the potential to be outstanding public defender attorneys. It interviews interested interns for staff attorney positions at the end of the summer and several current staff attorneys are former interns.
Students who have completed their second year of law school and want to pursue a summer legal internship position may do so by submitting a resume, cover letter, and current law school transcript (unofficial is fine) to our Recruiting Coordinator through the Current Openings portal below. In the past, NHPD has also interviewed summer intern candidates at the Equal Justice Works fair and has received applications through resume collections from several law schools. While there is no formal deadline, applications are accepted any time after August 1 for the following summer and the positions are usually filled by early winter. NHPD is also open to hiring Extern and Co-op students as legal interns during the school year after they have completed their second year of law school. Please check the Current Legal Openings portal to see if these positions are available or click here.
First Year Summer Internship Program
Law students who have completed their first year of school are also welcome to apply for internships. While these students are not eligible to appear on the record in court, they are able to have extensive client contact under supervision and work closely with staff attorneys on misdemeanor, juvenile and felony cases. First year students often conduct legal research, draft motions, and assist staff attorneys in preparing for hearings and trials. In addition, these students have the opportunity to investigate cases under the supervision of an NHPD staff investigator.
This is an unpaid, ten-week internship. Roughly half of the intern’s time is spent working on investigations. Job-related mileage and investigator licensing expenses are reimbursed. Interns must be licensed drivers with an insured vehicle.
Students who have completed their first year of law school and want to pursue a summer internship position may do so by submitting a resume, cover letter, and current law school transcript (unofficial is fine) to our Recruiting Coordinator through the Current Openings portal below or click here. The application deadline is February 1 for positions beginning in June.
Investigator Internship Program
College students in their junior or senior year, graduate students, and law students who have completed their first year of law school, are welcome to apply for investigator internships.
Investigator interns work closely with staff attorneys and their clients. They interview witnesses, write reports, take photographs, diagram crime scenes, deliver subpoenas to witnesses, and gather records and other documents essential to the defense. In addition, interns assist attorneys in preparing for hearings and trials, and help clients obtain treatment for substance abuse or mental health issues.
Investigator interns can work during the summer, spring or fall. Applications should be received at least two months before the proposed start date. Available positions are either full or part-time. Interns must work at least twenty hours a week for at least ten weeks.
This position is unpaid. Job-related mileage expenses are reimbursed. Interns must be licensed drivers and have an insured vehicle. Every intern must obtain a private investigator’s license through the New Hampshire Department of Safety. NHPD will assist in this process and reimburse the associated fee.
To apply for an investigator internship, submit a resume, cover letter, and transcript (unofficial is fine) to our Recruiting Coordinator through the Current Legal Openings portal below or click here.