Law School Student Internship Opportunities

The Federal Public Defender’s Office is a friendly and social community with hardworking attorneys from a wide variety of backgrounds. Internships and externships for law school students* are available during the summer and academic school year, and they are all based in our Raleigh office. The summer program lasts for up to fourteen weeks and can be done for externship credit. Splitting summers is discouraged. Fall and spring semester externships for law students are also available during the school year and must be done for externship credit from an accredited law school. Through these programs, law students gain a vast array of experience in criminal defense law. Students have the opportunity to write motions and briefs, and to follow up on that work with visits to jail, client interviews, and court appearances (through the North Carolina Student Practice Rule) throughout North Carolina’s Eastern District. They also work one-on-one with attorneys and investigators and gain exposure to all stages of criminal cases including initial appearances, plea negotiations with the U.S. Attorney’s Office, trials, and appellate work.

The types of felonies the FPD’s clients are charged with include firearms offenses, drug trafficking crimes, immigration violations, white collar crimes, violent crimes, and sex offenses. The office also represents individuals charged with misdemeanor offenses, and those with revocation, appellate, and civil commitment proceedings.

The FPD office represents indigent clients against convictions at trial, or where appropriate, by bargaining for plea agreements, and if a client is convicted, by obtaining a just and fair sentence. As interns, students work on cases dealing with hot new topics and help shape criminal and sentencing law in the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals. For more information on summer internships or fall/spring semester externships with the Federal Public Defender’s Office, please contact Vidalia Patterson at 919-856-4236. Students who wish to apply for an internship or externship with our office should mail a resume, transcript, and cover letter to: Vidalia V. Patterson, Research and Writing Attorney, Office of the Federal Public Defender, 150 Fayetteville St., Suite 450, Raleigh, NC 27601 (because of the recent issues with postal deliveries, students may also send PDF versions of application materials electronically to

For an intern's perspective of a summer internship with the FPD, please read FPD Model Intern Program.

* U.S. Citizenship or documented legal U.S. residence status is required. Those selected for a position must successfully complete a criminal background check at the beginning of the program and are expected to voluntarily disclose any criminal history in advance of their first day.


NOTICE: We have concluded recruiting for our Summer 2023 Intern and Spring 2023 Extern Programs. We will begin accepting applications for our Fall 2023 Externship Program in the Spring and our Summer 2024 Intern Program beginning August 1, 2023. If you have questions, please contact Vidalia Patterson.