The Office

   The San Diego County Public Defender's Office offers a variety of opportunities for both established professionals and law students seeking to enter the fast paced and rewarding field of criminal defense practice.
  San Diego boasts the best climate within the continental United States, so our employees have the benefit of both a cutting edge professional environment and a great quality of life. 


   Our main office, located in downtown San Diego, is in the middle of a vibrant urban area next to picturesque San Diego Bay. The various branch offices within the County of San Diego offer a diverse range of environment from the scenic back country of East County, to suburban North County, to the international flavor of South Bay, just minutes from the Mexican border.
(San Diego Chamber of Commerce)

   Our trial attorneys handle cases spanning the breadth of the criminal law. Interns and law clerks get plenty of courtroom experience. Training for all staff is highly emphasized and developed. Our resources include a full time investigations unit staffed by professional investigators, an extensive library administered by a professional librarian, computer networking at every desk, with access to the latest legal research and Internet tools, and a highly qualified clerical and support staff.

   The San Diego Public Defender’s office also has one of the few specialized Writs & Appeals Units in the country. This unit offers our trial lawyers and our clients the support of a highly experienced and skilled staff of appellate attorneys who are able to provide immediate assistance. The Writs & Appeals unit is particularly effective because all of the attorneys assigned to that unit have extensive trial experience as well as appellate expertise. As a result, this office provides not only outstanding trial court representation but is also at the forefront of cutting edge appellate litigation in criminal law, including the first Three Strikes case decided by the California Supreme Court, and some of the leading authority on issues such as prosecutorial discovery, conflicts of interest, and speedy trial rights.


   New attorneys first attend a week-long orientation focusing on substantive law and courtroom procedure. They are immediately assigned to a team and given a misdemeanor caseload. An experienced team leader supervises the new attorney and provides support and direction when needed. Education is on-going in the form of short training seminars focusing on evidence and the various phases of trial practice.

  "Brown bag lunches" address the actual issues that may arise in practice. All staff attorneys are encouraged to attend the bi-weekly in-house training offered on Wednesdays. While our departmental training program is excellent, all attorneys are free to apply for reimbursement for approved outside seminars such as those offered by the California Public Defender's Association and the California Attorneys for Criminal Justice.

   Attorneys who have demonstrated trial proficiency and good legal skills are promoted to a felony team. Our transition program is designed to facilitate the transfer from misdemeanor to felony practice. It is an excellent program put together by our training coordinator which incorporates lectures and training given by legal scholars from around the state as well as our own top level trial practitioners.

   Our office is always looking for enthusiastic and talented individuals who are dedicated to defending indigent citizens charged with crimes. As a county agency, our hiring process is run through the San Diego County Human Resources Department. When we have openings, they are posted on the San Diego County web site. At the top of this page on the right side, there is a link to “Jobs”. This will take you to the county HR site, where all current job listings are posted. We encourage you to check the site frequently, openings can occur at any time.


   If you are still in law school, you may be interested in one of our volunteer legal intern programs.  Our new "Interns/Volunteers" page has been posted here.  Agency descriptions, program information and important dates are given there.


Contact Us To Discuss Employment Opportunities:

Are you currently an attorney looking to join the San Diego Public Defender’s Office?  Do you want to discuss future employment opportunities?  Do you want to speak to a Public Defender about the employment process?  Please email savannah.whitehurst@sdcounty.ca.gov.  Please attach your recent resume. 

Want more information about the job description, salary and benefits?  Want to be emailed when a position opens?  Please click the link below and search for Deputy Public Defender I, II or III.  Once you select the appropriate job classification “subscribe” to receive job opening notifications.