Every Fall, the Program recruits Staff Attorneys to work in its ten trial offices. The number of open positions varies each year.
Applicants for Staff Attorney positions must be entering or in their final year of law school and be on track to graduate from an accredited law school. The Program also welcomes applicants who have graduated from law school, are pursuing a judicial clerkship or fellowship, and want to begin their public defender careers immediately after their clerkship or fellowship ends. In addition, an applicant must be a member of the New Hampshire Bar, eligible to waive into the New Hampshire Bar with a qualifying Uniform Bar Examination score, or qualified for and prepared to take and pass the New Hampshire Bar Examination. The examination is given in Concord every February and July, with registration typically required by December 1 for the February exam, and May 1 for the July exam. Most applicants take the exam during the July session that precedes the start of new lawyer training in late August.
Successful applicants will have pursued and distinguished themselves in academic coursework which prepares them for a career as a public defender, such as courses in evidence, trial advocacy, criminal procedure and constitutional law. In addition, successful applicants pursue opportunities to participate in criminal clinical programs offered by their law schools, or internship and externship opportunities at public defender offices.
Upon acceptance of an offer of employment, new hires will submit their top three choices for office placement. They will know by the time they graduate what office they will be in. After new lawyer training, new public defenders will start out with a small case load consisting of misdemeanor and juvenile cases. Each new lawyer is assigned a mentor, who will meet with the lawyer at least weekly. The Managing Attorney, who assigns cases within each office, will carefully monitor the new lawyer’s case load. Over time, the new lawyer will receive more misdemeanor and juvenile cases, and will begin to receive felony cases, and co-counsel felony cases with senior attorneys, within the first few months of employment. A typical new lawyer, by the end of the first year, carries a case load consisting of roughly twenty-five misdemeanors, twenty-five felonies, and twenty-five other cases (juveniles, probation violations, other adult post-conviction matters).