Defender Association of Philadelphia
History and Mission
The Defender Association of Philadelphia is an independent, non-profit corporation that was created in 1934 by a group of Philadelphia lawyers who were dedicated to the ideal of high quality legal services for indigent criminal defendants. That ideal continues today, as some two hundred and fifteen full time assistant defenders represent clients in adult and juvenile state and federal trail and appellate courts and at civil and criminal mental health hearings as well as state and county violation of probation/parole hearings. Association attorneys also serve as the Child Advocate in neglect and dependency court.
Although the City of Philadelphia funds it, the Defender Association is not a city or state agency. The Association is directed by a Board of Directors who select the Chief Defender and First Assistant Defender.
The Defender Association of Philadelphia represents approximately seventy percent of all persons arrested in Philadelphia. The Philadelphia Courts determine standards of indigence and make all counsel appointments for the Association. Full-time assistant defenders rotate their assignments by representing clients in the Municipal Court of Philadelphia, at preliminary arraignments and misdemeanor bench trials. Our attorneys also appear in the Court of Common Pleas at preliminary hearings, miscellaneous motions court, juvenile delinquency hearings, and felony bench or jury trails. In addition, the office does an expanding civil and criminal mental health practice, and it has the largest criminal defense appellate practice in Pennsylvania handling misdemeanor, felony, homicide and death penalty appeals. Our Federal Court Division, the only Federal Defender in Philadelphia, represents indigent criminal defendants in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and, on appeal, in the Third Circuit.
In 1987, the American Bar Association and the National Legal Aid and Defender Association voted the Defender Association the most outstanding public defender office in the country. The award committee specifically recognized the office's innovative training program that emphasizes the training of quality trial litigators. The Association's year-long new attorney training program begins with an intense three week in-house program which includes a one week trial practice institute and continues with in-court one-on-one training for each new courtroom rotation and an extensive series of in-house education seminars. As an accredited continuing legal education provider, the Association also sponsors Mandatory Pennsylvania Continuing Legal Education programs, and it offers an eleven week summer law intern program primarily directed to second year law students.
The Defender Association is a complete equal opportunity employer. We actively seek qualified candidates for assistant defender and summer internship positions, and we especially welcome applications from all minority and Hispanic candidates who want the opportunity to learn trial litigation while making a difference in the lives of our indigent clients.
Please Call: 215-568-3190