Experience

The Criminal Justice Clinic is designed to give the student a qualitatively different learning experience than non-clinical courses. The clinic involves the application of the theory and skills acquired in substantive and simulation courses with the major objective to assist the student in the transition to the role of a practitioner of the law.

There are many parts to the clinical process, and some of the identifiable learning goals for the Criminal Justice Clinic include:

  • Developing models for planning and analysis for dealing with real life legal problems
  • Learning and developing lawyering skills
  • Recognizing and resolving ethical issues
  • Learning how to learn from experience
  • Exposure to the pressures encountered by lawyers in criminal law practice
  • Exposure to law office management systems
  • Examining and constructively critiquing the criminal justice system
  • Developing models for translating legal doctrine and substantive knowledge of law and procedure into effective action for clients

The Criminal Justice Clinic is designed so that each student usually interviews several clients, conducts several bond hearings, participates in the discovery process, conducts at least one preliminary hearing in a felony case, sits second-chair in one felony jury trial, and, if there are misdemeanor cases slated for trial, takes primary responsibility for at least one misdemeanor case serving as lead counsel at trial. Students will also have the opportunity to attend and possibly conduct depositions, be involved in and conduct plea discussions with clients, conduct plea negotiations with prosecutors, and enter pleas.

Students are assigned to work with a group of three to six attorneys, with one lawyer in the group being designated as the lead attorney. The lead attorneys are available to assist the students with obtaining a range of lawyering experiences in the clinic. The supervising faculty member also works closely with each team of students and lawyers in the office.

The classroom component is devoted to office meetings about the work the students are doing, case conferencing strategies and legal issues related to cases, discussions about lawyering skills students will develop through the clinic, professional values, ethical issues, and other topics that will arise from the students’ work in the clinic. For more information about the clinic experience contact Professor Joy at joy@wulaw.wustl.edu