Whether you are a fresh graduate or an experienced professional lawyer, our office is a great place to practice law, to investigate cases on behalf of our clients, to support clients navigating a variety of necessary social & mental health supports, and to support the smooth functioning of our office and casework. Our main office is located in downtown West Palm Beach, directly across from the courthouse. We represent clients from all parts of Palm Beach County, one of the largest, most populous, and most diverse counties in Florida. Our Appellate Division also handles appeals from the 17th Judicial Circuit (Broward County) and the 19th Judicial Circuit (Indian River, St. Lucie, Martin, and Okeechobee Counties).
Our office hires from law schools throughout the state and across the nation—from state to ivy league schools and from schools on the west coast to those in the southwest to the Midwest to the Northeast to the southeast. We are always looking for motivated attorneys from all backgrounds who are dedicated to representing indigent clients.
Our unparalleled training and practice environment allows our attorneys to provide high-quality representation to indigent defendants. Each of our attorneys started their tenure with a two-month-long orientation process. In-house trainings ensure that our lawyers have a sufficient base of knowledge when they receive a caseload and continue to learn and grow while staying on top of developments in the law. Attorneys regularly collaborate in and out of court, whether covering depositions for a co-worker in trial or acting as a sounding board for a novel theory of defense.
Most lawyers join our office in August though we welcome applications from December graduates who can start in March. New attorneys participate in a two-month-long orientation. During this period, they learn the ropes of local practice through a series of presentations and trainings, eventually shadowing practicing attorneys in the misdemeanor division. At the same time, they learn substantive law by working with an Appellate Division mentor drafting appellate briefs.
Once admitted to the Bar, attorneys are assigned a caseload in one of the misdemeanor divisions. They represent defendants accused of crimes punishable by up to one year in jail. The breadth of charges is astounding, including crimes such as driving under the influence, battery, marijuana possession, theft, stalking, prostitution, and criminal mischief. Our attorneys handle each of their cases from start to finish, gaining experience at every step of the legal process. They quickly learn to draft and argue motions, litigate strategically, and negotiate favorable pleas. Most important, they learn to try cases to juries. Typically, our lawyers spend one to two years in misdemeanor court. During this time they face more juries than some lawyers do over the course of a career.
After misdemeanor court, our attorneys extend their practice in other divisions. Attorneys interested in representing children charged with crimes may join the juvenile division.
In preparation for their shift into the felony division, lawyers receive a handful of felony clients after a year of experience. Most of our attorneys are assigned to a courtroom in the felony division within two years of beginning their practice.
Our attorneys will move through several divisions over the course of their career. Depending on interest, experienced attorneys may spend time in the Forensics, Mental Health, Serious Crimes, Major Crimes, or Appellate Divisions.
Spring graduates should apply by November of their final year of law school. Fall graduates should apply by September of their final year. Applicants should e-mail a resume, writing sample of no more than 10 pages, a draft transcript, and references to: PDPalmBeachApps@pd15.org. For those applicants we identify as a potential match, we will conduct panel interviews, which include the division chiefs and Public Defender Carey Haughwout.
Please note that applications are accepted year round but our traditional hiring cycle is for Spring graduates to start in August, shortly after sitting for the July Florida Bar examination.
Our office’s investigators and legal assistants are dedicated professionals who make sure that the attorneys have what they need to give each client a vigorous defense. Our Information Technology professionals quickly and reliably provide trial graphics and courtroom technology. Expert witnesses are retained when needed. Our Social Services Division helps clients cope with difficulties they may face during and after trial. Because of our office’s scale and infrastructure, we are able to accomplish what might not be possible in a smaller practice.
Investigators, social workers, paralegals, IT personnel, and secretaries are all part of the team working to support our clients! We are interested in hiring hard-working, dedicated problem solvers to assist in our rewarding work. If you are interested in or have experience in one of these aspects of our work and would like to apply, please submit a resume and a completed State of Florida job application http://www.floridajobs.org/forms/personnel/stateemploymentapp.pdf to:
Office of the Public Defender, 15th Judicial Circuit
421 3rd Street
West Palm Beach, FL 33401
firstname.lastname@example.org (for questions)