Criminal Defense Clinic - University of Virginia School of Law
Academics: Professional Training

Criminal Defense Clinic

Adjunct Professors Frederick Heblich, James Hingeley, Bonnie j. leopold, Elizabeth Murtagh and Janice Redinger; 5 credits

The semester-long Criminal Defense Clinic provides a first-hand, experience-based study of the processes, techniques, strategies and responsibilities of legal representation at the trial level.

Each student represents defendants in actual criminal cases pending in the local courts under the direct supervision of an experienced local criminal defense attorney. The students themselves — not their supervising attorneys — perform all of the lawyering functions associated with their cases, including interviewing, investigation, research, plea negotiation and courtroom advocacy. In regular conferences, supervising attorneys guide the students’ case preparation, give practical advice and help develop defense strategies. The full clinic meets twice weekly in seminar sessions where substantive areas of criminal defense practice are covered, including client management, evidentiary issues, criminal procedure, sentencing options and ethical responsibilities. During the second half of the semester the emphasis is on work-shopping individual cases, and may occasionally include trial simulation exercises. At the conclusion of each case the student prepares a brief memorandum reciting the narrative of the case and making critical reflections on the decisions made during the representation that affected the outcome.