SADO in search of summer legal/mitigation interns

The Michigan State Appellate Defender Office (SADO) seeks first and second-year law students committed to public service, racial equity, and social justice to join its Summer Internship Program.

SADO provides representation to poor people who appeal their state criminal convictions and those sentenced to juvenile life without parole in resentencing proceedings pursuant to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decisions in Miller v Alabama (2012) and Montgomery v Louisiana (2016).

SADO summer interns will gain experience with client counseling, fact investigation, mitigation, legal research, brief writing, and oral advocacy.

Because Michigan has a unique criminal appellate process which allows for factual development on direct appeal, interns can expect to work in both trial and appellate courts, and to attend trial court hearings and Court of Appeals arguments.  

Interns are paired with a staff attorney and will work with other SADO team members including investigators, social workers, reentry specialists and support staff.

The program will run from late May through August 2023.

Due to limited resources, the internship opportunities are currently unpaid.

Applicants are encouraged to seek funding from their academic institutions or third-party funders, and we will share opportunities for financial assistance as we learn of them. SADO is a hybrid office working from home or offices in
Lansing and Detroit.

Those interested in applying should e-mail a resume and cover letter together in a single PDF file to

The cover letter should indicate why the applicant wants to be part of the SADO team and work for its clients. Applications should be submitted by Friday, Jan. 13, at 5 p.m.  Questions should be directed to
SADO’s Juvenile Lifer Unit (JLU) is also seeking legal and mitigation interns to assist with client intake, record collection, record review and analysis, and initial legal advocacy for individuals who are newly eligible for resentencing hearings.

Intern responsibilities may include:

• Obtain mitigation records from places like schools, prisons, medical facilities, and other agencies

• Analyze and review mitigation records and synthesize information into spreadsheets, timelines, and visual aids

• Draft summaries of mitigation evidence and relevant research areas such as childhood trauma and brain science

• Assist with intake of clients eligible for resentencing

This internship is open to law students as well as undergraduate and graduate-level interns from a range of disciplines such as social work, anthropology, psychology, creative writing, criminal justice, and sociology.
Remote, hybrid, and in-person (in the Detroit or Lansing offices) work options are available.  Internship hours can be part-time or full-time (minimum of 15 hours per week).

At this time, the internship is not paid, but interns are encouraged to seek course credit or external funding for their internship and their supervisors will provide necessary documentation.

Those interested should indicate in their application whether they are applying for the spring (January to May 2023) or summer (May to August 2023) semester.

JLU internship applicants should submit a resume and cover letter (in a single PDF) explaining their interest in working on youth resentencing hearings. The PDF should be emailed to Chelsea Richardson at with the subject line “JLU Intern 2023.”