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Internships: Public Service Law & Technology (rolling availability)

The Massachusetts public defender agency, CPCS, recognizes attorneys are information workers. As a government agency devoted to safeguarding the constitutional rights of MA citizens, it is dedicated to providing its attorneys with the best possible IT tools. Currently, CPCS is experimenting with development in the open source space. Building on prior work the agency has undertaken to create open source tools for the legal community, CPCS is looking to supplement its development team with legal and engineering interns. See e.g., In Court (blog entry on last term’s interns), QnA Markup (a computer language we wrote for attorneys), and DueProcessr (LTT article on the creation of DueProcessr at the ABA’s first hackathon).

These interns (legal and technical) will work as part of an interdisciplinary team to produce production-ready products for use by CPCS attorneys while learning about CPCS’s work and the process of app development. Within the constraints imposed by client confidentiality and other relevant considerations, all intern work product, in the form of computer code, will be released under an open source license and posted publicly on GitHub.


After a brief orientation, interns will be embedded for a short time (7-14 hours) with one or more of CPCS’s five practice areas. These are likely to take place in the area of Lowell. This rotation is intended to provide interns with a sense of day-to-day attorney workflow, including court and office work. It is also an opportunity for interns to meet and get to know their user base.

Based on their rotation observations and follow up with agency staff, interns will work together to improve the existing In Court web app to serve a larger number of CPCS attorneys and practice areas. Work on this project and the preceding office rotation will comprise roughly one half of the internship’s time. As a project, this work will provide team members a chance to familiarize themselves with the process of app development as well as any tools used by the team with which they may lack prior experience (e.g., GitHub). The remainder of the internship’s time will be spent working on already identified projects of use to CPCS or on a project of the interns’ devising, given CPCS approval and the understanding that projects must produce production-ready deliverables by the close of the internship.

Time Commitment

At least 40 hours over the course of a semester. Exact timing dependent on intern schedules, will likely be front loaded. Interns must arrange to receive credit from their own educational institution. CPSC is unable to offer a salary.


Interns will be part of an interdisciplinary team, as such we are looking to balance the team between legal and technical mindsets. An intern need only possess skills from one of the two sections below. However, those with experience spanning both would be highly valued. All applicants should possess a facility for logical thinking and the willingness to apply that thinking to different domains. They should also possess a willingness to learn new things, including basic coding on the part of non-coders.

Legal (Law Students):

  • Strong Legal writing and research skills.
  • A familiarity, on the level of an introductory class, with criminal procedure or another area of law applicable to CPCS staff attorneys is preferred though not required.

Technical (CS/Engineering Students):

  • Front and backend development experience for web services running in LAMP environments. Python and PHP experience preferred.
  • A familiarity with Microsoft Internet Information Services and Window server is a plus though not required.