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Criminal Defense

Take a hard look at how the American criminal justice system really functions. Then work to improve it.

From the start of the Criminal Defense Clinic, you'll be out front representing clients accused of crimes in Manhattan Criminal Court and incarcerated individuals in state prison.

Under the supervision of Professor Cheryl Bader, a former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey, and Professor Martha Rayner, a former public defender of the Legal Aid Society and the Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem, you will take on the full representation of your clients charged with misdemeanor crimes in Manhattan Criminal Court. You will also represent clients seeking parole and post-conviction remedies after spending multiple decades in prison. In addition you may have the opportunity to pursue reform-oriented litigation and projects.

The CDC operates on the principle that the best way to learn is within a structured and proactive environment of planning, execution and reflection. Teams of students assume primary responsibility for all aspects of representation, including establishing attorney-client relationships through interviewing and counseling, fact investigation, developing and implementing case theory, engaging in strategic decision making, drafting correspondence, motions and other court filings, negotiating with prosecutors and appearing on the record at court appearances -- including arraignments, bail applications, arguing motions and conducting suppression hearings and trials.

You will work closely with law colleagues as well as social work and forensic psychology colleagues. And your experience will be contextualized with seminar work that examines the strengths and weaknesses of a complex criminal justice system and the role of the defense attorney.

All this will take place in a supportive and reflective environment where you will learn to be your own best guide and teacher to becoming an excellent problem solver and provider of legal services.