Rhode Island Public Defender

Our mission is to provide high quality representation to our clients, fulfilling the governmental obligation of effective assistance of counsel, fundamental fairness and due process. Our goal is to provide client-centered advice, holistic representation and zealous advocacy. Our commitment is to treat our clients with dignity, compassion and fairness.
Mary S. McElroy, Public Defender

Law Student Internships

Loan Repayment Assistance

Employment Opportunities

Hiring of attorney staff occurs throughout the year as openings need to be filled. All persons hired must be admitted to the Rhode Island Bar at the time employment commences, or must be eligible for a limited two-year waiver. Rhode Island has no full reciprocity with any other jurisdiction. The Bar does permit limited reciprocity – a member of the highest Bar of another state may practice with us for a period of up to two years, but s/he must be admitted via examination prior to the expiration of the two-year period. Therefore, to be considered an active candidate, an applicant must either be admitted to the Rhode Island Bar or be a member in good standing of the Bar of another state; occasionally, a candidate will be considered who is not yet registered but intends to sit for the next Bar Examination.

All staff members are unclassified state employees, subject to the state salary structure, with full benefits. Virtually all new hires are entry level.

Most successful candidates for attorney position have a demonstrated interest in criminal defense, either through previous practice or law school clinical experience. In addition, most successful candidates have a demonstrated commitment to services to indigents.

New hires in the criminal division are generally assigned to the misdemeanor unit regardless of their prior experience. There is no formal period of rotation, however, and criminal trial attorneys are re-assigned to the felony division anywhere from six months to two years following hiring. With the exception of the criminal trial felony and misdemeanor units, there is rarely regular rotation among divisions and attorneys are presumptively hired for a specific vacancy in a particular division.

The Public Defender operates an extensive in-house continuing legal education program (CLE).

Staff is hired as vacancies occur, and all hiring is centralized. Employees for staff positions (Attorneys) are hired on a state-wide basis and are frequently rotated from one office or geographic area of responsibility to another.

Current Openings:

Administrative Support Specialist (Case Intake Coordinator)


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