Because DPLC is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, we rely heavily upon the assistance of students and interns.
DPLC Interns conduct legal research and assist attorneys in writing motions and briefs. Additionally, interns are involved in factual development and investigation. This includes accompanying attorneys on client and witness interviews, obtaining social history records, and reviewing and summarizing transcripts and records.
We have hosted interns from a variety of countries and schools. We involve our interns and volunteers in hands on work as much as possible.
Here are a few words from some of our former interns:
Coming from Malaysia, a state that has been both criticized and lauded for its human rights record and having studied law in four distinctly different countries, I felt I had developed a diverse set of skills that would effectively contribute to death penalty advocacy. Within the first few days of my placement, it was clear that whatever my contribution would be, it would never measure up to the invaluable experiences I’d gain in return. In hindsight, there was no training that would have prepared me for the emotional implications of such legal work but with absolute certainty, it was the most rewarding experience of my life. Within the first week of arriving at DPLC, a man had been set his execution date. During the 2 months we had, my knowledge and communication skills were ceaselessly challenged. I was sent on investigation trips to obtain evidence and conduct interviews with jurors in three states, I worked on motions and went through hundreds of court transcripts with the team. I also encountered both passionately dedicated law enforcement officials and those that were dedicated to obstructing justice.
It was perhaps all the flaws in the system and the deep-seated prejudices that reaffirmed my belief that this is one of the most important types of advocacy a practitioner could engage in. These placements ironically reflected humanity at its best; securing the rights of those on death row is an unpopular cause to say the least and yet everyday there are NGOs like DPLC filled with people who rally in the most gruesome of days and in the hardest of battles for the protection of fundamental human rights for every individual. And perhaps most surprising are the clients themselves. They ceaselessly proved that even the ‘castaways’ of society are capable of genuine compassion, kindness and repentance perhaps greater than most people display in their lifetime. The defense of those on death row is performed by a collective group of individuals who challenge the state to think not only of its model citizen, but accounts for those it had cast aside with its judgment. It was an honor to work with the DPLC team and this internship was a priceless contribution in my pursuance of a career in human rights law.
Sarah Hishan, Intern 2008
I am a family law solicitor at a medium-sized law firm in the UK. In 2006, while I was still a lowly law student, I interned at the DPLC and without a doubt it was one of the most rewarding and fulfilling experiences of my life. It was incredibly exciting being part of the team and feeling that I was making a serious contribution to crucially important work. Having already done a work experience placement with a law firm in the UK I remember being really surprised by how much more responsibility I was given at the DPLC and how much more interesting and significant the work I was trusted to do was. As just one example, I remember traveling out to Nebraska State Penitentiary and conducting prisoner interviews and then later preparing mitigation statements for use in a high-profile death penalty case. This was a far cry from my photocopying and tea-making duties while on work experience in the UK!
I fully recommend an internship at the DPLC – you’ll gain greater confidence in your own ability and make great friends.
Karol Kaliczak, Intern 2005
I am currently a final year law student in the UK and I came over to intern at DPLC this summer. I had the opportunity to work alongside Attorneys who were passionate and exceptional at what they do. I obtained an array of legal skills and put into practice some already acquired from law school. I was given the chance to meet clients and I learned how DPLC functions on a day-to-day basis. The atmosphere in the office is very relaxed but if I ever needed further guidance I did not hesitate to ask. I am thankful to DPLC for allowing me to participate as an intern as it has been an experience that not only changed my life but has steered me into the career path of criminal defense.
Gemma Barnett, Intern 2010
In the summer of 2005, I worked as an intern at the DPLC. Having a strong interest in criminal appellate work and the death penalty, I was excited to get the opportunity to work on real cases instead of studying them in school. I researched a number of issues on various cases, from mental health problems to issues related to qualifying jurors for capital cases. The most rewarding part of the internship was the series of mitigation interviews I conducted in order to weave a narrative history for their client. Through interviewing these witnesses, I developed skills that I still use in my practice today and learned much more than I ever could in the classroom. This experience inspired me to continue down the path of criminal appeals and helped me secure my current position as a staff attorney at the Midwestern Innocence Project.
Ken Blucker, Intern 2005
I am a recent graduate from UMKC Law School who spent both summers interning at DPLC. Interning at DPLC provides an unique hands-on (yet supervised) experience into lawyering post-conviction cases. My first summer I spent as much time researching case law as I did out in the field doing investigatory work from Sedalia, Missouri past the Elk River down to Jay, Oklahoma. My second summer I learned how to make a clemency video, and I spent weeks preparing for and then attending depositions across Texas. Not everyone had the same experience as I did, but the great thing about DPLC is that it rewards your hard work with more opportunities and responsibility. And as a young lawyer, I don’t think you can ask for anything more. From Carol and Codi to Joe and Jenny, everyone at DPLC is warm and kind. Don’t miss out!
Keith O’Connor, Intern 2008-2009
I am Kelly Grainger and I was an Intern from England who worked at DPLC during the summer of 2010. During my time here I helped on several cases doing legal and factual research, citation checks on documents, digesting transcripts and I also went out to meet a few of the clients. What I liked most about my experience here was meeting the hardworking people of the DPLC and seeing how dedicated they are to the cause. It was inspiring to see how committed they were to helping their clients and how much it meant to them. I also enjoyed meeting some of the clients as it really opened my eyes to seeing the person behind the case and made me do my very best to help them in any way I could. It was an experience I will never forget.
Kelly Grainger, Intern 2010
After a disenchanted first year in law school, DPLC reaffirmed and re-inspired my commitment to the law. It showed me how important and rewarding fighting injustice and saving lives could be. This experience was life-changing and to date one of my most fulfilled times practicing law. The level of hands-on experience you will receive is unparalleled. DPLC also helped open the door to working for the Federal Defenders in Philadelphia my 2L summer. I recommend this amazing opportunity to anyone.
Rebecca Duggan, Intern 2007