Criminal Defense Clinic: Clinical Methods


Course Code:
LAW 408B
Law Honors/Pass/Restrd Cr/Fail


Students in the Criminal Defense Clinic represent indigent criminal defendants in a wide range of misdemeanor cases in Santa Clara and San Mateo counties. Students are California Bar Certified and thus appear in court and argue their clients' cases with faculty standing by. Students take the lead role in all aspects of case development, including interviewing clients and witnesses, investigating facts, developing case strategy, negotiating with prosecutors, drafting and arguing motions, and trying cases before judges and juries. Common charges include drug use and possession, assault, theft and DUI. While students have primary responsibility for all aspects of their cases, all work is closely supervised. The Criminal Defense Clinic is an intensive, fast-paced and demanding program of education and practical skills, taught through a two-week introductory training and ongoing workshops and skills practicums. The Clinic also addresses broader systemic issues such as implicit bias in the legal system, immigration consequences, economic disparities and addiction. The goal of the Clinic is to train students how to conduct a criminal case from beginning to end while engaging in thoughtful reflection and providing holistic representation. While the work is often challenging and sometimes heartbreaking, it offers students a unique opportunity to put their skills, intellect and compassion to use by serving people in a moment of great need. Special Instructions: General Structure of Clinical Courses – – The Law School's clinical courses are offered on a full-time basis for 12 credits. This allows students to immerse themselves in the professional experience without the need to balance clinical projects with other classes, exams and papers. Students enrolled in a clinic are not permitted to enroll in any other classes, seminars, directed research or other credit-yielding activities within the Law School or University during the quarter in which they are enrolled in a clinic. Nor are they allowed to serve as teaching assistants who are expected to attend a class on a regular basis. There is a limited exception for joint degree students who are required to take specific courses each quarter and who would be foreclosed from ever taking a clinic unless allowed to co-register. These exceptions are approved on a case-by-case basis. Clinic students are expected to work in their clinical office during most business hours Monday through Friday. Students are also expected to be available by e-mail or cell phone when elsewhere during those hours. Because students have no other courses (and hence no exams or papers), the clinical quarter begins the first day of classes and runs through the final day of the examination period. Students should not plan personal travel during the Monday to Friday work week without prior authorization from the clinical supervisor. The work during a typical week in a clinic is divided into three components. First, as they are for practicing attorneys, most of the hours of any week are taken up by work on client matters or case work (this time includes meetings with instructors to discuss the work). Again, as is the case for practicing lawyers, in some weeks these responsibilities demand time above and beyond "normal business hours." Second, students will spend approximately five-to-seven hours per week preparing for and participating in weekly discussions or other group work in their individual clinic (scheduling varies by clinic). Third, over the course of the quarter each clinic student (with the exception of those enrolled in the Criminal Prosecution Clinic) is required to prepare for and attend approximately five inter-clinic group sessions. Students will be awarded three separate grades for their clinical quarter, each reflecting four credits. The three grades are broken into the following categories: clinical practice; clinical methods; and clinical coursework. Grading is pursuant to the H/P system. Enrollment in a clinic is binding; once selected into a clinic to which he or she has applied, a student may not later drop the course except in limited and exceptional cases. Requests for withdrawal are processed through the formal petition and clinical faculty review process described in the clinic policy document posted on the SLS website. Students may not enroll in any clinic (full-time or advanced) which would result in them earning more than 27 clinical credits during their law school career. The rules described here do not apply to advanced clinics for students who are continuing with a clinic in which they were previously enrolled. For information about advanced clinics, please see the course descriptions for those courses. For more information about clinic enrollment and operations, please see the clinic policy document posted on the SLS website. Elements used in grading: Class participation, attendance, written assignments and case work and professionalism.

Current Offerings

2015-2016 Spring

Criminal Defense Clinic: Clinical Methods LAW 408B Section 01 Class #15642

  • 4 Units
  • Enrollment Limitations: Consent 8

Past Offerings

2015-2016 Winter

Criminal Defense Clinic: Clinical Methods LAW 408B Section 01 Class #15339

  • 4 Units
  • Enrollment Limitations: Consent 8

2014-2015 Spring

Criminal Defense Clinic: Clinical Methods LAW 408B Section 01 Class #30514

  • 4 Units
  • Enrollment Limitations: Consent 8

2014-2015 Winter

Criminal Defense Clinic: Clinical Methods LAW 408B Section 01 Class #29831

  • 4 Units
  • Enrollment Limitations: Consent 8
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