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303-764-1400 Applying for a Public Defender

Introductory Training

Your Ability Will Grow Daily

No one is born with the skill set and knowledge they need to be a public defender, nor does one acquire it in law school. The journey to become a fierce, compassionate, erudite defender begins the moment you meet your first client and continues throughout your career. Your ability to do this work will grow daily and exponentially through your perseverance, experience and curiosity.

Basic Lawyer Training

While you are learning by doing in court, you will also participate in an 8-workshop series of trainings designed to help you develop knowledge and concrete skills in:

  • Client-centered advocacy
  • Best practices in negotiations and courtroom advocacy
  • The Colorado law that governs criminal cases

Most new lawyers will attend a “BLT” three-day in-person training session in their first week of practice. Within the next 60 days, they will then attend a second intensive three-day session, where courtroom skills will be practiced in a mock setting. Finally, a follow-up series of half-day trainings focused on working on sex assault cases are scheduled over the attorney’s next several months. The faculty at BLT use a number of different teaching modalities to create a more accessible learning environment:

  • Lecture
  • Mock performances using hypotheticals
  • Mock performances using clients’ cases

Some sessions involve larger groups, while others are done as small group work, often hosted regionally in local offices. These trainings are mandatory, and the trial offices provide support and coverage to ensure their lawyers are able to attend BLT. Over the course of the series of the 8 workshops, new lawyers have the chance to meet and build relationships with other new and experienced lawyers from across the system, helping keep us all connected even though our offices may be far apart.

Core Juvenile Skills

This series helps orient defenders to the representation of children facing adjudicatory proceedings. This entry-level program covers:

  • The specific role of each individual involved in juvenile proceedings, from the human services case worker to the Guardian ad Litem
  • An overview of the critical cases and principles defining the rights of children in the juvenile legal system
  • Detention advocacy
  • How to work with juvenile social workers to achieve better outcomes for clients
  • Communicating with child clients
  • Raising and litigating competency in juvenile cases
  • Adolescent brain development
  • Expungement
  • Registration and collateral consequences of adjudication
  • Juvenile appeals
  • Common ethical concerns in the representation of children

The expectation is that any defender involved in the representation of children, no matter how infrequent, completes this training program.