Law Student Clerkships/ Internships

Established in 2010, the Office of Capital & Forensic Writs (OCFW) is a small, close-knit public defender office in Austin, Texas. We proudly provide zealous, client-centered postconviction representation to indigent persons in Texas. We raise claims relating to the constitutionality of convictions and sentences through two separate programs:

  1. Investigating and litigating constitutional claims relating to death penalty convictions and sentences;
  2. Representing incarcerated persons where questionable forensic science tainted their convictions.

Capital post-conviction is our largest practice. We represent 70% of persons in Texas raising initial post-conviction challenges to their convictions and death sentences, and a smaller number of clients in other procedural postures, such as incompetency to be executed, post-conviction DNA testing, and successive post-conviction proceedings.

The work OCFW does in Texas is making an impact. Since 2020,

  • The Court of Criminal Appeals overturned one client’s capital murder conviction and death sentence, agreeing with OCFW that false forensic evidence was used to convict and sentence him to death;
  • Another client’s death sentence was held unconstitutional due to incompetence to be executed;
  • Trial courts have found clients’ conviction or sentence to be unconstitutional in four cases.

In 2020, we began representing persons convicted of non-capital offenses in post-conviction challenges when questionable forensic science, negligence, or misconduct contributed to their conviction. These cases are referred to us by the Texas Forensic Science Commission. We currently represent eight clients whose convictions rest on tainted, outmoded, or unreliable forensic science, such as hair microscopy, blood spatter, bitemark, and fingerprint evidence. 

As post-conviction counsel, attorneys, mitigation specialists, and legal interns at the OCFW have the privilege of investigating constitutional violations that have occurred at the trial level, including issues at both the guilt/innocence and punishment phases of trial.  The punishment phase investigation includes uncovering the real stories of our clients’ lives and deconstructing the dehumanizing narrative presented at trial. Our goal is to discover mitigating information about our client which would have resulted in a sentence less than death—and to tell the true story of their humanity, and how they came to be where they are. This includes building a life history, and investigating evidence of intergenerational poverty, trauma, racism, and abuse, as well as their efforts to overcome these obstacles. Guilt phase investigation involves deconstructing the state’s factual narrative and includes uncovering evidence of police, prosecutorial, juror, or judicial, misconduct, junk science, and innocence.

The Texas Office of Capital & Forensic Writs (OCFW) is seeking bright and motivated legal interns interested in capital defense to help develop claims on behalf of our clients. The legal interns will work as part of teams of attorneys and mitigation specialists representing clients sentenced to death or sentenced to terms of incarceration following junk science-tainted trials.

Clerkships are unpaid.  The OCFW, however, will work with applicants to obtain academic credit through their schools and applicants may seek funding through their law school and other sources.  People of color and persons from backgrounds that are underrepresented in the legal profession are especially encouraged to apply.

This is an extraordinary opportunity to make a difference in Texas.


Under the supervision of the intern supervisor, law clerks are provided an exciting opportunity to conduct investigation, develop research and writing, review and digest transcripts and records, and to communicate with clients. They can expect to gain a broader understanding of how post-conviction capital representation works in Texas. 

Legal interns at OCFW will participate in the following:

  • Legal research and writing.
  • Analyze relevant records and anecdotes to develop information concerning the circumstances of the alleged crime and the client’s life history. The types of records we collect include: medical, psychiatric, trauma history, educational, employment; military, social service, child protective service, genealogical, and criminal and civil records.
  • Investigating religious, gender, sexual orientation, ethnic, racial, cultural and community influences; and socio-economic, historical and political factors affecting clients.
  • Digesting records collected into a comprehensive chronology of the client’s life, and writing memos.
  • Assisting with interviewing witnesses, including jurors, the client’s friends, family, teachers, neighbors, coworkers, etc.
  • Communicating with clients.
  • Collaborating with the team to develop themes and theories. 

Preferred Qualifications:

  • A commitment to the representation of death-sentenced persons, and persons from low-income and other marginalized communities;
  • Attention to detail, organization, and accuracy;
  • Desire to work as part of a team;
  • Written and oral communication skills;
  • Ability to operate standard office equipment and software;
  • Enthusiasm for complex research and analyzing voluminous records and data;
  • Bilingual in Spanish and English.

 To be considered, send: (1) a letter of interest and (2) a resume to

 Applications will be considered on a rolling basis.

The Office of Capital & Forensic Writs is an Equal Opportunity Employer and does not discriminate on the basis of race, national origin, sex, religion, age or disability in employment or the provision of services. In compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, any request for reasonable accommodations needed during the application process should be communicated by the applicant to Joy Right, the Office of Capital & Forensic Writs Senior Accountant, at



Updated Friday, September 2, 2022