Clinic: Criminal Defense - Skills

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The Criminal Defense Clinic (CDC) is the Law School's oldest clinical program, having operated since 1974. Student-attorneys interview clients and witnesses, litigate pretrial issues, negotiate with prosecutors, and work with judges and court staff. At times, students may arrange jail release. If a case goes to trial, the student-attorney will try the case. Over the years, the collaboration between Clinic students and supervisors has produced impressive results, including a victory in the United States Supreme Court. However, The Criminal Defense Clinic is primarily a trial clinic, not an appellate or post-conviction clinic. Clinic students are the "first chair" lawyers for the clients. The Clinic’s two supervising attorneys guide students and sit "second chair" during court proceedings, including jury trials. Over the years students have tried approximately two hundred jury trials and thousands of preliminary hearings. The key to this type of teaching/learning is preparation and team work. It is one of the hallmarks of the CDC and of all good trial lawyers. Each Clinic student also will work office hours every week. The time varies depending on the size of the class. During office hours, students must be professionally dressed and will conduct initial intake interviews with potential Clinic clients. This is also a time to work on cases and meet with clients. Students may also be called upon to get someone out of jail or handle other “emergencies” which happen with some regularity in the practice of criminal law. Being a member of the Criminal Defense Clinic is a fascinating and challenging way to learn “the practice.” In class, we incorporate “rounds” where we go over current cases and court appearances. These discussions are a very powerful learning tool in the Criminal Defense Clinic and in clinics across the nation. The Clinic is a six-credit, pass/fail course. The classroom component emphasizes the nuts and bolts of criminal defense with emphasis on misdemeanor practice in Travis County. The two required simulations, emphasize negotiations and trial skills. They are recorded and critiqued immediately. For more information, contact Bill Allison the CDC’s director (232-1463; CCJ 4.302A) or Kim Waters the CDC’s administrator (232-1300). The Criminal Defense Clinic is physically located in CCJ 4.302 Prerequisites: 43 credit hours completed before enrollment (this is a requirement of the State Bar Act and is not negotiable). Students may not be enrolled in another clinic. Most CDC graduates tell us “The Clinic” was their best experience in law school. APPLY ONLINE:


Headshot of Segura, Richard J. Jr. Segura, Richard J. Jr.
Headshot of Allison, William P. Allison, William P.
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