Criminal Defense Clinic

In the Criminal Defense Clinic, students learn a model of criminal defense advocacy rooted in a whole-client (holistic) ethos. Students work with clients, client families, community organizations, and experts in various disciplines to defend clients facing misdemeanor charges in Tarrant County Criminal Court. Clinic students will appear in court at pretrial appearances and hearings, potentially representing clients at trial.  Students should expect to visit clients incarcerated at the local detention center and to help connect clients to necessary social services.  

The Criminal Defense Clinic student teams also work collaboratively on community projects to enhance justice for people interacting with the criminal justice system in Tarrant and surrounding counties. Students in the clinic can expect to:

  • Develop client-centered, trauma-sensitive lawyering practices
  • Build trial advocacy skills
  • Critically analyze systemic injustices
  • Recognize issues related to pretrial incarceration
  • Learn to build client narratives and hone negotiation skills
  • Work with interdisciplinary experts
  • Engage in in-depth fact investigation, including visits to scenes and interviews of witnesses.

Course Information

Pre-requisites/Co-requisites:
• Professional Responsibility -- completed, or concurrently enrolled. Students who have not completed Professional Responsibility will be automatically enrolled in a section when admitted to a clinic.
• Evidence

Recommended Courses:
Preference to students who have also completed or enrolled in Criminal Procedure.

Eligibility to Enroll:
• Completed 45 units by the start of the semester for which you are applying
• Must be in good academic standing
• No Honor Code violations

Credit Hours/Experiential Hours:
Four (4) hours credit
Counts towards oral skills requirement

Terms available:
Spring

Evaluation:
Graded

Dropping Clinics:
Given the unique nature of clinics and the ethical obligations that arise for our attorneys when they expose students to actual client cases, students will not be allowed to drop a clinic after the first week of classes.

Faculty:
Professor Amber Baylor

Considerations

Since clinics operate differently than doctrinal, writing, and other simulation courses, students must keep in mind the following before enrolling:

  • All clinical courses meet in the Clinical Program Office located in the Star-Telegram Building at 307 W. 7th Street, Fort Worth, Texas. It is a 0.6 mile walk from the Law School building to the clinical space.

  • All 3 and 4 unit clinic courses require that students spend a minimum of 6-8 hours per week at the clinical space.

  • Per our Academic Standards, students are expected to submit logs of their time to their supervising attorneys to receive credit. Your instructor will provide you with direction of how to keep track of your time.

  • In order to provide all of our students with a clinical opportunity, you cannot enroll in more than one clinic in any one semester.

  • You may not enroll in an externship and a clinic in the same semester unless authorized by the Associate Dean for Experiential Education.

  • If you plan to be employed by a law firm, government agency, or other unit engaged in providing legal services during the semester, you must disclose the employer’s information so the clinical program can determine if there are any conflicts that prevent the student from enrolling in the clinic.

  • Once a student is admitted to a clinic, the student must commit to attend a mandatory clinic orientation the first Friday of the semester from 12:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

  • Unless a special accommodation is necessary, free student parking is not available in the clinic space. The cost to valet in the Star-Telegram Building is $10. There is additional parking in the area that ranges from $6 to $10. Street metered parking is available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Student Application

The Criminal Defense Clinic student application ​​is available online. As part of the application submission, ​students will be required to upload their current resume as a pdf. Students are encouraged to apply to clinics by the deadline listed on the course schedule. Students who apply by that deadline will be notified of their application status before the end of the semester. Applications received after that time will be reviewed on a rolling basis.

Once a student is admitted to a clinic, the student must commit to attend a mandatory clinic orientation the first Friday of the semester from 12:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Conflicts:
Clinics operate as law firms. Conflicts may arise if students enroll in a clinic and also work in a law firm or government agency in the first semester. If you plan to intern, extern, or otherwise, work during the semester you are in clinic, you will need to discuss with Dean Herrera. On the application you will be asked to indicate if you plan to intern, extern, or work elsewhere during the semester(s) you are applying for.