Location: Brooklyn, NY
Address of Internship: 177 Livingston Street, 7th Floor Brooklyn, NY 11201
Number of Positions: 2
Brooklyn Defender Services is a public defender organization that represents 45,000 people each year who are too poor to afford an attorney. Our staff consists of specialized attorneys, social workers, investigators, paralegals and administrative staff who are experts in their individual fields. Our staff is highly qualified and specially trained to provide excellent legal representation to people charged with a crime or facing child welfare proceedings. Every client receives the services needed to defend his or her case, including an investigator to track down witnesses or recover evidence, a social worker to improve the life circumstances of our client, and an excellent attorney who will analyze the legal issues in the case, try to negotiate a fair resolution of the matter and will represent the client at a trial. People who are arrested face many obstacles, even if their case is resolved in their favor. Some examples are loss of employment, suspension from school, eviction from public or private housing, deportation, forfeiture of property and loss of licenses. Our goal is to help clients with these issues as they arise. We also work to change these systems by challenging their legality and advocating for changes in the law. Interns at BDS help the organization to realize its goal of providing diligent and ethical representation to the accused.
BDS seeks undergraduates with an interest in and a commitment to social and criminal justice issues for our Investigative Assistant Internship. Investigative Assistants locate, interview and take detailed statements from the witnesses, run background checks on witnesses and police officers, obtain and review video surveillance footage, draft and serve subpoenas, photograph and diagram crime scenes, and transcribe audio recordings. Investigative assistants additionally provide administrative assistance to the investigator team. While some of the investigative assistant’s work will take place in the office, much of it will be out in the field—in private homes, in local businesses, on the street and in the greater community. Ideal applicants should be comfortable working all over Brooklyn and should possess characteristics necessary to approach and interact with strangers about sensitive subjects. Candidates must be able to work in a collaborative setting and be able to produce high-quality written work. The internship will start with an intensive, multi-disciplinary two-week training where the interns will rotate shadowing some of our staff investigators. Investigative assistants will learn about our progressive approach to representation, our different practice areas and the laws and ethics involved in investigation. Following the initial training period, investigative assistants will continue to receive ongoing training and supervision from an experienced staff investigator who will serve as a mentor and will be responsible for assigning cases.
Investigative interns who are driven, persistent, and personable tend to succeed in this internship. Daily investigations work involves speaking to people in any of the diverse neighborhoods of Brooklyn, and following up to acquire crucial evidence, even if people are not initially receptive to helping with criminal defense. We have found that interns who understand the importance of public defense remain determined even in the face of possible setbacks. They recognize that returning to a business more than once for video surveillance, for example, is worth it for the sake of our clients and their families.
While some of the Investigative Assistant’s work will take place in the office, much of it will be out in the field— in private homes, in local businesses, on the street and in the greater community. Ideal applicants should be comfortable working all over Brooklyn and should possess characteristics necessary to approach and interact with strangers about sensitive subjects. Candidates must be able to work in a collaborative setting and be able to produce high-quality written work.
Required qualifications and abilities:
- Excellent interpersonal and communication skills
- Interest in criminal justice, especially the fields of criminal defense and the rights of the accused
- Strong writing ability
- Fluency in another language is highly desired, but not required