Legal Internship Program

The Capital Habeas Unit (“CHU”) also welcomes applications for summer interns who are interested in capital defense. The CHU advocates for indigent prisoners under Florida death sentences. The scope of our work includes all stages of federal habeas corpus proceedings, as well as stay litigation, execution method challenges, and executive clemency.


The Capital Habeas Unit (CHU) of the Federal Defender for the Middle District of Florida, located in Tampa, Florida, seeks law students for full-time, unpaid summer internships. The CHU represents individuals who have been sentenced to death by the State of Florida in their federal habeas corpus proceedings. CHU attorneys and staff file challenges to constitutional violations that have tainted our clients’ convictions and/or sentences. CHU litigates in the U.S. Middle District of Florida, the U.S. Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, and the United States Supreme Court.

What will an intern do?

Our internship program allows students to work a full summer (between 8-10 weeks) on capital postconviction cases. CHU interns may become involved in any aspect of our habeas practice, including legal research and writing, record review, field investigation, and client visitation. They will also have the opportunity to attend an in-house brown bag lecture series featuring presentations by various attorneys, mitigation specialists, and paralegals in the office on topics relevant to federal and capital legal practice.

Because of the nature of the work our students perform, we typically do not allow split summers and we prefer that all interns begin work on the same date. CHU internship is based solely in Tampa. People of color, and persons from backgrounds that are underrepresented in the legal profession, are especially encouraged to apply.

Who May Apply?

1L and 2L applicants are welcome to apply. Preferred qualifications include a demonstrated interest in indigent criminal defense and a commitment to working in a team environment.

Applicants must be U.S. Citizens or eligible to work in and for the United States. Applicants selected for an interview must travel at their own expense. This position is subject to a criminal background and fingerprint check.

Do you provide accommodations?

The FDO provides reasonable accommodations to applicants with disabilities. If you need a reasonable accommodation, please notify Human Resources at (813) 228-2715. The decision on granting reasonable accommodations will be made on a case-by-case basis.

What are the application deadlines?

Applications are accepted through February 1st . Applicants are reviewed on a rolling basis, and we expect to make a final decision by March 1st.

Applicants must submit a cover letter explaining their interest in capital defense work along with a resume and a short writing sample (no more than 5 pages; may be an excerpt from a longer work).

What should I wear?

If accepted into this program, the student is expected to wear professional attire in keeping with the professional nature of this Office.

Can I get compensated?

This is a non-paid position. The legal intern will not receive remuneration or compensation of any kind for services rendered to the Office of the Federal Defender. The legal intern will be responsible for parking arrangements at their own expense during the duration of their internship with this office. In addition, this Office is not responsible for any personal property brought into the office or carried in any vehicle on official business. No payment will be made for property stolen from the official duty station or left unattended in any part of a motor vehicle while on official business.

Can I talk about what happens?

The Office of Federal Defender is a law office. Client case files and records are confidential and not to be released without consent of this Office. Legal interns, like staff, are expected to make every effort to confine such discussions or communications to areas which can reasonably be expected to be private.

How to apply?

Fill out the internship application form here.