MSPD offers many employment opportunities to law students for summer or clinical internships. We also offer a limited number of volunteer positions to undergraduates interested in criminal justice, social work, psychology, and related fields.

The opportunity for real-world experience and exposure to the practice of criminal law is invaluable. Many students have said they learned more about the actual practice of law during an MSPD summer internship than they did during their first, second, or even third year of law school!

We participate in on-campus interviews at all in-state law schools and many law schools in states surrounding Missouri. Generally, on-campus interviews are conducted in the spring semester. If MSPD recruiters visit your law school and you’d like to join us for a summer internship, we encourage you to meet them and apply for an internship through the on-campus interviewing process.

If you are an in-state law student interested in a non-summer internship, an out-of-state law student, or an undergraduate student, please submit a resume to Human Resources ( to apply for an internship, including in the e-mail your locations of interest and the time period you’d like to intern.

Students work for MSPD in many capacities including:

  • summer positions
  • fall or spring internships
  • positions for school credit
  • positions through school clinical and practicum programs

MSPD is willing to work with institutions of higher learning to ensure that student interns receive school credit for their work with MSPD.

MSPD offers students the opportunity to provide meaningful help to those with the greatest needs. You will have direct contact with clients and significant responsibility for helping attorneys protect the liberty and lives of citizens. You will also receive training from some of the best and most experienced criminal defense attorneys in the country.

Here’s more about possible opportunities within each division:

Trial Division

Attorneys in the Trial Division handle cases ranging from traffic offenses to first-degree murder cases in which the State is not seeking the death penalty. There are 33 district offices statewide that handle trial cases.

The intern program within the trial division is formatted to introduce law students and undergraduates to all aspects of criminal litigation. Specifically, student participation includes:

  • Conducting client interviews
  • Drafting motions
  • Performing legal research
  • Conducting case investigation
  • Assisting in all aspects of a criminal litigation practice

Interns are strongly encouraged to participate in the trial preparation portion of the internship, ultimately assisting or observing at the actual trial.

Appellate/PCR Division

The six offices that handle appeals are in Columbia, Kansas City, and St. Louis. All post-conviction relief motions filed by inmates are handled through the Appellate/PCR Division in conjunction with local district offices. The appellate attorneys argue cases in front of all three Courts of Appeal, as well as the Missouri Supreme Court. Duties for interns in the appellate division may include:

  • Conducting research and preparation of memorandums of law for attorneys involving a wide variety of issues occurring in criminal appeals and postconviction cases
  • Drafting circuit court motions in postconviction cases, as well as appellate briefs
  • Preparing for filing of appellate records and other motions, and letters to court personnel and clients
  • Observing attorneys in court proceedings including motions, evidentiary hearings, and oral arguments
  • Filing records and briefs with appropriate courts as directed and collect records necessary in preparing court pleadings

Capital Division

The Capital Division specializes in capital murder cases and only handles cases where the state is seeking the death penalty. Capital offices are located in Columbia, Kansas City, and St. Louis.

Interns with backgrounds in psychology, sociology, or mental health areas may enjoy this division since a significant amount of mitigation work is performed. Interns will generally have minimal contact with clients. Interns may assist with the following:

  • Case preparation for guilt and penalty phases of capital murder cases
  • Reading discovery information
  • Reviewing crime scene or autopsy photos

Other Specialty Practices

Other specialty areas of practice include our Children’s Defense Team, Commitment Defense Unit, Parole Revocation Defense Team and Holistic Defense Team. These offices may also offer internships for students.

Training Division

MSPD facilitates a large number of nationally recognized training events and CLE opportunities for attorneys and core staff. There are opportunities to support the team as a strategic communications intern. Visit our Training page to learn more.

Here’s what some MSPD interns have to say about their experience:

“Thank you so much for hiring me for the excellent program. I loved the program and all the new experiences. It was all over-the-top wonderful!”

“Through this experience, I have formed great respect and admiration for the work of the Public Defender System.”

“I think this is an excellent program. I learned a lot of practical things about how the criminal justice system really works. The ‘hands on’ style is excellent. It was a great experience to get so involved and to actually be an active part in every step of a client’s representation.”

“Rather than sitting in a classroom, this internship allows me to have first-hand experience with every aspect of the legal community. I truly am learning in the best way possible.”

“The attorneys and staff are great. Every effort is made to include and incorporate the interns. A fantastic experience!”

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