SPD Employment Information

The Office of the State Public Defender is responsible for coordinating Iowa's Indigent Defense System. Our mission is to ensure that all indigent persons in Iowa are provided high quality legal resprentation in criminal, juvenile, and other eligible proceedings in the most efficient and fiscally responsible manner. Positions may be located in the seventeen local public defender offices throughout the state, the Appellate Defender's Office, or the Administrative Office.  The local public defender offices provide representation for indigent persons primarily in criminal and juvenile cases at the trial level in all of Iowa's 99 counties.  The Appellate Defender's Office represents indigent persons in appeals of criminal and post-conviction relief cases arising statewide.  The Administrative Office assists in management of the State Public Defender system and administration of the Indigent Defense Fund, including review of indigent defense fee claims.

Types of Positions Available

Most public defender offices employ individuals in the following types of positions:

  • Attorneys - Representing indigent persons at the trial or appellate level in criminal or juvenile proceedings.  (See the Legal Careers page and the Gideon Fellowship Program page for more information).
  • Investigators - Assisting attorneys in the pretrial investigation of criminal or juvenile cases by gathering evidence and locating and interviewing clients and witnesses; assisting (in juvenile offices) with performing guardian ad litem duties and attending out-of-court meetings; assisting attorneys at trial, and traveling in field to serve subpoenas or perform other investigative tasks. 
  • Secretaries - Providing administrative support to attorneys, including regular contact with public defender clients on the phone and in person, preparation of court documents and correspondence, and use of case management system.

Application Process

Applicants must apply through the Department of Administrative Services, which will qualify applicants for the vacancies.  Detailed instructions and an online application system are available on the Department of Administrative Services website.

Compensation and Benefits

The Office of the State Public Defender provides competitive compensation and benefits.  The pay range for a position is included in the job posting.  Typically, a new employee will start at the minimum of the posted pay range. 

Benefits include:

  • Health, Dental, and Long-term Disability, and Life Insurance
  • Paid vacation (two weeks annually, increasing with seniority), sick leave, and eleven holidays
  • Iowa Public Employee Retirement System (IPERS) and voluntary deferred compensation programs

More information is available from the Department of Administrative Services Employee and Retiree Benefits Site, including the 2019 Benefits at a Glance guide for AFSCME-covered employees.

Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program

Applicants with student loan debt may be eligible for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program, which can provide further substantial financial benefit to a position with the Office of the State Public Defender.  The Office of the State Public Defender is qualified public service employment under the program.  Thus, eligible employees with the appropriate type of student loans and sufficient financial hardship who make ten years of qualifying monthly payments in the appropriate repayment plan may have all their remaining student loan forgiven.  More information is available from the U.S. Department of Education and Equal Justice Works.

Current Opportunities

Return to the current employment opportunities page.