A Commitment To Excellence

A Passion For Justice


Federal Defenders

Who we are

Federal Defenders of San Diego, Inc., is the Federal Community Defender Organization for the Southern District of California. We are based in San Diego, with a branch office in El Centro, California, and are appointed to represent indigent persons accused of criminal offenses in federal court. A nine-member Board of Directors oversees our daily operation. We are independent from the local federal judiciary and funded by a sustaining grant awarded by Congress under the Criminal Justice Act.

Our close proximity to the U.S.-Mexico border has a strong influence on our caseload. The majority of our clients are charged with drug and immigration related offenses. Our attorneys also have the opportunity to represent clients facing a wide variety of federal charges, including bank robbery, fraud, counterfeiting, pornography, assault, and firearms offenses.



Our staff currently consists of over 60 trial attorneys and 70 support personnel. We have an aggressive and distinguished appellate department. Our attorneys are assisted by highly trained and dedicated investigators and have the benefit of in-house interpreter and bond departments.



Members of the Federal Defenders team share a commitment to excellence and a passion for justice in representing indigent people accused of myriad federal criminal offenses. We combine hard work, constant training and intense dedication in the defense of each of our clients.

Federal Defenders


Our office values diversity and is committed to equity and inclusion. We aspire to embody values of mutual respect, collaboration, openness, and humility that honor the people we represent. Our representation is better when members of the defense team have diverse backgrounds and experiences. In our hiring, we look for lawyers who share these values. We embrace the unique backgrounds, social identities, and lived experiences our employees bring to our office. We are interested in applicants’ talent, diligence, and desire to see that all people are treated fairly and respectfully – no matter the allegation or circumstance.

We seek applicants from a diverse group of qualified people and aim to structure our organization to reflect diversity in terms of race, ethnicity, national origin, culture, sex, gender identity and expression, sexual identity, education, opinions, age, languages spoken, veteran status, disability, religion, and socio-economic circumstance. We are especially interested in receiving applications from members of the Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) community, people who have been affected by the criminal legal system, and people from other underrepresented and impacted communities.