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Jobs and internships - Public Defense

Employment at the Department of Public Defense (DPD) offers the chance to practice public defense at a high level while living in a vibrant urban environment surrounded by natural beauty.

We recruit for open positions throughout the year. Applications for any position at the Department of Public Defense (DPD) must be submitted through the King County employment website.

Applications will not be accepted through on-campus interviewing or any other job site.

Why work for DPD

We are committed to providing high-quality legal representation to indigent clients. We practice in areas including:

  • Felonies
  • Misdemeanors
  • Juvenile defense
  • Family defense
  • Involuntary commitment
  • Sex offender commitment
  • Contempt of court

We also work to address racial disproportionality in the criminal legal system, the collateral consequences of system involvement, and other systemic issues that undermine the rights of our clients.

Attorneys are encouraged to go to trial. They're supported by experienced supervisors. Expert services are regularly funded, in keeping with state court rules.

Everyone we work with is committed to strong client advocacy and the important work of public defense.

We also employ skilled:

  • Investigators
  • Mitigation specialists
  • Paralegals
  • Legal assistants

As a department within King County, we offer competitive salaries and generous benefits packages.

Read more about DPD's work in our latest annual report

Our structure

Four divisions provide client representation at DPD. This ensures the department can keep as many cases in-house as possible. Each division is overseen by a managing attorney and employs attorneys, investigators, mitigation specialists, paralegals, and legal assistants. When feasible, those professionals work in teams, providing vertical representation to clients. The four divisions, reflecting their history as nonprofits before becoming a part of the county in 2013, are called:

  • Associated Counsel for the Accused Division (ACAD)
  • Northwest Defenders Division (NDD)
  • Society of Counsel Representing Accused Persons Division (SCRAPD)
  • The Defender Association Division (TDAD)

The Director's Office

The Director’s Office provides strategic and policy direction for the department including its training program, finance unit, human resources, and other administrative support. Staff in the Director’s Office interview clients to determine eligibility, assign cases to the divisions, and manage case assignments to ensure attorneys are not exceeding State Supreme Court-mandated caseload limits.

Current job openings

Public Defense Attorneys

The Department of Public Defense (DPD) is looking for attorneys who want to join us in our fight to provide robust legal representation to our clients and to end systems that oppress poor people, marginalized people, and people of color. We're looking for hard-working advocates with excellent trial, research, and writing skills and a deep commitment to indigent defense. Excellent pay and benefits.

Visit the job listing on King County's career page for more information or to apply.

3rd Year Law Student and Fellow/Clerk

The Department of Public Defense (DPD) seeks thoughtful, creative, energetic advocates to join our dynamic and diverse team which includes a staff of over 400 includes attorneys, mitigation specialists, investigators, paralegals, and legal administrators who collaborate to advance our clients’ goals. DPD is recruiting 3rd year law students, judicial clerks, and fellows to begin employment in or before October 2024.

Visit the job listing on King County's career page for more information or to apply.


The Department of Public Defense offers full-time summer internships (paid, subject to budget approval) to law students who have completed their second year of law school. We're looking for students with a demonstrated commitment to social justice and advocacy on behalf of indigent persons.

In return, students receive courtroom experience, excellent training, and mentoring by skilled public defenders. When possible, our summer interns appear in court (under close supervision) and represent clients at bond hearings, motion hearings, even at trial.

We offer internships in nearly all of DPD’s practice areas including:

All this, while living in or near Seattle, a lively city surrounded by mountains and water. It's a great place to spend the summer.

Check out King County's career page to apply for our 2024 summer internship program.

Our 2022 internship program

Rising 3Ls said they found the opportunity to fight for clients thrilling and meaningful. They challenged search warrants, worked to suppress unlawfully seized evidence, represented both adults and children in first appearances, co-counseled entire misdemeanor trials, and supported attorneys in felony trials.

Read more about DPD interns on our blog