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PDA General Intern, Extern & Volunteer Opportunities

PDA has various volunteer or intern opportunities available on an ongoing basis. 
For current or recent law students interested in a fellowship, legal externship or internship, please contact Prachi Dave, PDA Senior Attorney, at If you are interested in general, LEAD, VOCAL-WA or other open-ended opportunities, please complete the survey found here. Once complete, we will retain your information on file and contact you when an internship and/or volunteer opportunity is available.


Racial Disparity Project: Internship & Externship Opportunities

Organization Description

The Public Defender Association (PDA) is a non-profit corporation which advocates for justice system reform and develops alternatives that shift from a punishment paradigm to a system that supports individual and community health. We also provide technical assistance to community partners who are committed to these goals. We advance justice system reform and alternative practices and policy through several core programs and policy initiatives, including: 

• Let Everyone Advance with Dignity / Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD):   Under LEAD, police officers exercise discretionary authority at the point of contact to divert individuals to a community-based intervention program for low-level criminal offenses (such as drug possession, sales, and prostitution offenses).
Voices of Community Activists and Leaders - Washington (VOCAL-WA): VOCAL-WA, affiliated with VOCAL-NY, builds power among low- and no- income people directly affected by the war on drugs, homelessness, mass incarceration, and the HIV/AIDS epidemic to create healthy and just communities for all. 
Transforming Policy:  The Public Defender Association’s Racial Disparity Project (RDP) has worked to improve police accountability and reconsider the role of the police since its inception in 1998, and worked to reform Washington's deadly force laws, including with technical support for the implementation of I940/De-Escalate WA, passed by Washington voters in 2018.
System Reform:  In the spirit of our four decade history as a public defense office committed to system reform, the current incarnation of the Public Defender Association continues to do policy advocacy, litigation, public education and organizing on issues that systemically affect people who are or are likely to be engaged by the justice system. This work includes efforts such as drug user health and supervised consumption campaigns, work on pre-trial release, and work to advance justice reinvestment, moving funding from institution-based investments to community-based care, in Seattle/King County and around Washington state. 
Civil Survival Project: Civil Survival Project organizes people who have been directly impacted by the criminal justice system to build connections, gain knowledge and increase political participation.  Civil Survival provides leadership development, legal education and services, and legislative advocacy on systemic issues that prevent former justice-involved individuals the opportunity to fully reintegrate.
Community Justice Project: The Community Justice Project aims to reduce harm caused by violence and mass incarceration by building effective, trauma-informed healing responses that reflect restorative justice principles.  We strive to empower the most impacted and marginalized communities by investing in the leadership of both crime survivors and incarcerated individuals to drive this work.  Unlike the traditional victim advocacy model, we are investing in the leadership of survivors and people directly impacted.

Intern Duties

An intern with the Racial Disparity Project will work under the supervision of the Senior Attorney to research and write legal memoranda, engage in individual representation of clients, work on current policy advocacy projects, and assist in the preparation of filings for ongoing litigation.  The intern will also gain an understanding of the multifaceted work done by the LEAD team, the Civil Survival Project, and the Community Justice Project.

Desired Skills and Qualifications

The intern will develop an in-depth understanding of the criminal justice reform work in which PDA engages and the public health perspective PDA utilizes.  Excellent writing and communications skills are required.  Applicants should have strong interests in policy advocacy, litigation, public education and organizing on issues that systemically affect people who are or area likely to be engaged by the justice system.  A commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion; a personal approach that values the individual and respects differences is also expected.  Candidates must have completed at least one year of law school.

Equal Opportunity Statement

The Public Defender Association is an equal opportunity employer.  We value a diverse workforce and an inclusive culture and are committed to race equity in all aspects of our work.  PDA encourages applications from all qualified individuals without regard to race, color, religion, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity or expression, age, national origin, marital status, citizenship, disability, veteran status, socio-economic circumstance, or record of arrest or conviction.  Women, people of color, members of the LGBTQIA+ community, and people with disabilities are especially encouraged to apply.