FAQs for prospective students

  1. What kinds of cases does the Criminal Defense Clinic handle and what is the student’s role in those cases?

    Typically, student attorneys represent people charged with misdemeanors in Travis County who cannot afford a lawyer. Student attorneys are licensed by the State Bar of Texas and appear in court under the supervision of experienced faculty members. The clinic has also worked on some compassionate release cases during the health pandemic.

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  2. How many cases do student attorneys in the Criminal Defense Clinic handle? Do student attorneys work alone or in teams?

    Depending on the complexity and status of cases, student attorneys generally work with three to five clients at a time. Student attorneys are assigned individually to work on cases, but student attorneys work in pairs in investigation, weekly supervision, and often during substantive hearings or trial.

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  3. Are there prerequisites for the Criminal Defense Clinic?

    There are no mandatory prerequisites but students have found that criminal procedure, evidence, and other criminal law courses have provided them with a good foundation for the clinic.

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  4. What does a typical week look like for someone in the Criminal Defense Clinic?

    Students serve as lead counsel at all stages of the representation, including any jury trials, and maintain primary responsibility for working with clients to develop case strategies, and work with our social work intern. Any given week could require a variety of activity depending on the case. Clinic students investigate crime scenes, meet with clients, interview witnesses, litigate pretrial issues, negotiate with prosecutors, and work with judges and court staff. Supervising attorneys hold weekly supervision meetings, review preparation, engage in additional supervision as needed to ensure high-quality advocacy, and attend court appearances to provide further guidance whenever necessary.

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  5. What time commitment does the Criminal Defense Clinic require?

    Pursuant to national clinical guidelines, there is a requirement that students spend at least 150 hours on casework over the course of the semester.  However, like the practice of law following your graduation, the actual time commitment will ultimately depend on the demands of your clients, the assigned case, and any court proceedings or deadlines. When a substantive hearing or trial is approaching, student attorneys are expected to devote additional time to preparation. Each student attorney will be partnered up for weekly supervision. In addition to casework, students must be in the Clinic space for three "office hours" per week to respond to calls to the clinic for assistance. There is a seminar class component that is one time per week for two hours. There are extra hours at the beginning of the semester for orientation.

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