The Public Defender for the 11th Judicial Circuit of Florida seeks a full-time attorney to specialize in Behavioral Health litigation and client assistance, in a fast-paced, client-centered office.

The Public Defender is an elected official who has a constitutional duty to provide legal representation to persons in jeopardy of losing their life or liberty who cannot afford to hire a private attorney. Our office employs nearly 230 attorneys plus investigators, mitigation specialists, secretaries, and paralegals to assist with the more than 65,000 cases we handle each year.

Clients with serious mental illness face the loss of their basic freedoms. The Behavioral Health Attorney advocates for the rights and liberties of these vulnerable clients, through early identification, diversion, placement, and litigation. The attorney conducts witness interviews, legal research and writing, and full adversarial litigation to defend clients’ liberties. When litigating, the attorney will work with experts, and cross examine the court’s or opposing counsel’s expert witnesses. Comprehensive and supportive training in civil mental health law and procedures provided.

The attorney’s primary focus is defending against civil petitions that would significantly impact the rights and liberties of clients with serious mental illnesses. The attorney also interviews incarcerated clients for early identification of treatment needs and placement opportunities. The job requires travel within Miami-Dade County for in-person client interviews and file reviews at behavioral health facilities and jails.

Applicants must be dedicated to serving this population and their unique needs.

Salary and Benefits:

  • Salary $85,000. Only attorneys with mental health experience will be considered. Starting salary with no mental health experience is $68,000.
  • Health insurance
  • Annual leave – 20 days per year
  • Sick leave – 13 days per year
  • Paid holidays – 13 days per year
  • $25,000 life insurance policy – paid by the State of Florida
  • Short-term disability insurance – paid by the State of Florida
  • Optional employee paid supplement insurance plans available (additional life insurance, vision, dental, cancer, hospitalization, and disability)
  • State retirement benefits – vesting after 8 years in pension plan or after 1 year for the investment plan
  • Deferred compensation – option of saving portion of monthly salary in a tax-sheltered account
  • Extensive training and CLE credits
  • Florida Bar dues paid by the office

Job Description: Assistant Public Defenders are accountable for providing high quality representation to our clients. Responsibilities include, but are not limited to:

  • preparing each case efficiently and expeditiously;
  • advising and counseling each client;
  • establishing and maintaining a professional relationship with each client;
  • effective and efficient use of investigators, mitigation and placement specialists and other support staff;
  • seeking assistance from experts appropriate to the case;
  • demonstrating professional demeanor;
  • exercising sound judgment to achieve desired results; and,
  • assisting the Public Defender in carrying out his responsibilities.


  • Licensed to practice law in Florida.
  • Familiarity with psychiatric diagnoses, symptoms, treatments, and South Florida treatment facilities, or willingness to learn.
  • Background and experience with individuals with serious mental illness strongly preferred.
  • Bilingual: English/Spanish preferred.
  • Comfort with learning digital file system, electronic documentation, and familiarity with basic word processing and email programs
  • Valid driver’s license.

How to Apply: Complete an Application for Employment at and submit your resume, cover letter and writing sample, all in PDF format, to Please include information in your cover letter to support your qualifications for this position.

Due to the volume of applications, please do not call or make inquiries via email.

How you will be evaluated: Your submitted application materials will be reviewed to determine compliance with application requirements, level of position-relevant work experience, education and training.

After your application materials have been reviewed, you may be required to participate in a selection interview. Candidates who do not reside in Miami-Dade County may be interviewed initially via Zoom or other electronic means.

The State of Florida is an Equal Opportunity Employer/Affirmative Action Employer and does not tolerate discrimination or violence in the workplace. Applicants will be considered irrespective of race, color, sex, religion, age, national origin, veteran status, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, marital status or political affiliation.

Applicants requiring a reasonable accommodation, as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act, must notify the agency hiring authority and/or the People First Service Center (1-877-562-7287). Notification to the hiring authority must be made in advance to allow sufficient time to provide the accommodation.

Veterans are encouraged to apply.

Job Contact
Diane Yanez Ridgeway