Training is a top priority for MSPD. We know that none of us walks into this profession prepared to defend the freedom and life of another person.

It is the mission of our Training Division to ensure that all MSPD employees have myriad hands-on training opportunities, so they attain the knowledge and skill to provide quality representation to our clients. The Public Defender System covers all costs associated with attending any approved training programs.

Toward that end, we offer our employees a variety of in-house training programs each year as well as the opportunity for experienced employees to attend national training programs.

Lawyer Training

Among our in-house training programs for attorneys is our New Defender Workshops, where new public defenders get a chance to perfect the day-to-day practice of criminal defense. In this program, defenders will

  • follow the path and preparation of a case from arrest through post-conviction
  • discuss client counseling
  • learn about case investigation
  • learn how to prepare and litigate motions
  • practice conducting a deposition with guidance from experienced defenders
  • become familiar with the many sentencing alternatives and advocacy strategies available to them and their clients

To help our defenders become the best litigators they can be within the courtroom, we also conduct a week long trial skills course. Here defenders prepare and practice all aspects of a full criminal trial under the tutelage and guidance of experienced MSPD attorneys and top-quality criminal defense attorneys from around the country. This skills-based program allows attorneys to practice their trial skills within their first year of their employment at MSPD.

MSPD also offers a variety of stand-alone, ever-changing programs on appellate, post-conviction, and death penalty practice, youthful defense, mental health issues, sentencing advocacy, ethics, forensics, and other issues we often confront in our cases and with our clients.

On the national training front, MSPD regularly sends attorneys to participate in most, if not all, of the nationally-recognized programs available in the field of criminal defense. We have also long been the source of faculty for those national programs. Our defenders have participated in and served as faculty for

  • the National College for Criminal Defense
    • Trial Practice Institute
  • the National Association for Public Defense
    • Leadership, Investigation & Social Work programs and webinars
  • the National Legal Aid & Defender Association
    • Appellate Defender Training
    • Racial Equity Training
    • Black Public Defender Association
  • the Gault Center
    • Defenders of Youth Rights
  • Gerry Spence’s Trial Lawyers College
  • the National Association for Criminal Defense Lawyers
  • the Death Penalty College in Santa Clara
  • California Attorneys for Criminal Justice
    • Capital Case Defense Seminar
  • Darrow/Baldus Death Penalty Conference
  • training events sponsored by individual public defender organizations across the country.

We have outstanding attorneys at MSPD. We are proud of our people and happy to share their expertise with others working for the same cause in other states. Our employees invariably bring back new ideas and contacts from their travels and we all benefit from the exchange. A number of our attorneys also teach as adjunct professors at Missouri’s law schools and undergraduate institutions, in further testament to the quality of the skills they bring to our clients.

Core Staff Training

MSPD also offers in-house and national training opportunities to its investigators, legal assistants, and other core staff, covering such pertinent topics as Locating and Interviewing Witnesses, Case Analysis, Crime Scene Investigation, Service of Process, Investigating Experts and Laboratories, Report Writing, Forensics, Safety in the Field, Ethics, and more.

Internship Opportunity

The Missouri State Public Defender (MSPD) Training Division is seeking one or more creative, dynamic and detail-oriented individuals to serve as our Strategic Communications Intern(s). These individuals will support efforts to improve MSPD’s communication.  Our mission is to provide quality representation to clients charged with criminal offenses, expand their access to justice and work to improve the criminal legal system so that it is equitable and fair.

As a Strategic Communications Intern, you will get a chance to:

  • Develop and coordinate MSPD’s social media presence by posting to and monitoring Facebook, LinkedIn,  Instagram and Twitter;
  • Draft newsletters, emails and other short form writing;
  • Assist with website editing and content management;
  • Edit video and photos; and
  • Assist the communications team with various tasks as assigned.


MSPD’s Training Division has a friendly, fast-paced, team-oriented environment.  As such, our Strategic Communications Intern(s) should:

  • Be an undergraduate or graduate student with relevant communications coursework, or a graduate student with a minimum of one (1) year working experience in a relevant field;
  • Have strong organizational skills and be detail-oriented;
  • Have a demonstrated work ethic and a positive attitude;
  • Have excellent written communications skills in AP style;
  • Have a deep understanding of Microsoft Office software – including PowerPoint; and
  • Have strong digital social media skills including Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and Twitter.

If you have any of these characteristics, then we would love to hear from you!


  • Full-time and part-time opportunities available.
  • Flexible dates and hours.
  • This position is unpaid, but eligible for academic credit if approved by your institution.


Students, please apply by submitting your resume, cover letter, a short writing sample, a list of social media accounts you’ve managed (optional), and a graphic design portfolio (optional) to  Subject – “Strategic Communications Intern: *Your Name*”


Position(s) will remain open until filled.

To learn more about MSPD, visit:  MSPD is an Equal Opportunity Employer.

Contact Information

Melinda K. Pendergraph
Training Director
Office of State Public Defender
Woodrail Centre
1000 West Nifong
Building 7, Suite 100
Columbia, Missouri 65203
(573) 777-9977, ext. 212
(573) 777-9964 (fax)

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