Innocence Project New Orleans welcomes law students and undergraduates from across the country and the world to learn about the causes of wrongful conviction and help our attorneys and investigators free innocent and unjustly sentenced people sentenced to life in prison.
Interns are paired with staff members to ensure close supervision and feedback, as well as a variety of assignments. Every internship is different, depending on the needs of our current clients and cases, but previous interns have had the following experiences during their time with IPNO:
- Visited clients held in the Louisiana State Penitentiary (Angola), the Louisiana Correctional Institute for Women, and the Mississippi State Penitentiary (Parchman)
- Searched evidence storage facilities and discovered DNA testable evidence (including evidence that led to an exoneration)
- Conducted legal research to contribute to briefs for courts at all levels of State and Federal systems
- Listened and transcribed jail phone calls made by our client pre-trial
- Interviewed jurors concerning their experiences during deliberations
- Discovered evidence of patterns of similar crimes in newspaper microfilm archives (that proved our client was in prison for a crime committed by a serial offender)
- Attended legislative hearings and bill signings to support IPNO-backed policy reforms
- Canvassed neighborhoods for potential witnesses
- Participated in case meetings with attorneys and investigators
- Watched court hearings
- Digested files and transcripts
- Assisted attorneys preparing for law enforcement trainings regarding best practices to avoid wrongful convictions
- Requested and viewed public records and documents
- Vetted potential expert witnesses
- Researched in decades old phone books and property maps in library archives for information about the potential true perpetrators of a crime
- Accompanied investigators on witness interviews throughout Louisiana and Mississippi
- Witnessed the exoneration and/or release of clients who have served decades in prison and joined IPNO in welcoming them home
Not every day with IPNO will be exciting, but, as an IPNO intern, your work plays an instrumental role in our success. To help prepare our interns, IPNO staff members teach a multi-day training covering relevant post-conviction laws, our casework process, and our frequently used legal claims like Brady and Ineffective Assistance of Counsel. IPNO interns also have the chance to meet and learn from some of our freed and exonerated clients. IPNO is part of a wider community of criminal justice reform organizations in New Orleans and we encourage our interns to take part in weekly brown bag lunches with other local interns during the summer, as well as community events, and exhibits (subject to state and city guidelines on COVID-19).
Internships are unpaid (with the exceptions of the scholarships detailed below), though we are happy to work with you to provide the documentation necessary to secure academic credit or school-based financial support for your work.
Below are descriptions of our summer and term time internship opportunities and information about application requirements.