Criminal and Juvenile Defender Clinic

LW.11444 / LW.10531
Professor Randy Hertz (all year)
Professor Vincent Southerland (spring semester)
Open to 3L students only
Maximum of 12 students
Year-long course
14 credits*
Pre-requisites/Co-requisites: Criminal Procedure and Evidence are recommended**


The Criminal and Juvenile Defender Clinic is a year-long, 14-credit course that focuses on the representation of individuals who have been charged in Criminal/Supreme Court or Family Court with committing crimes. The clinic involves a mixture of fieldwork, seminar discussions of the criminal and juvenile legal systems, and simulated trials and hearings.

Course Description


In the fall semester, each student will work with the Legal Aid Society's Juvenile Rights Practice (JRP) in representing children accused of crimes in New York Family Court delinquency proceedings. In the spring semester, some students will also work with the Bronx Office of the Legal Aid Society’s Criminal Defense Practice (CDP) on adult criminal cases. The clinic is designed to allow students to experience all stages of the juvenile/criminal process, including arraignment, investigation, drafting of motions, motions arguments, negotiation, client counseling, suppression hearings, trial, and sentencing.

The Seminar

For the first five weeks of the fall semester, the seminar will focus on New York criminal and juvenile law and procedure, in order to prepare students for representing clients accused of crimes in Family Court delinquency proceedings (throughout the year) and in Criminal/Supreme Court (in the spring semester). For the remainder of the fall semester and throughout the spring semester, students will participate in simulated hearings and trials that are designed to teach the range of skills involved in criminal/juvenile trial practice. After covering the basic skills of witness examination and trial-level argument, these simulations will focus on the ways in which lawyers use a "theory of the case" to guide their witness examinations and the host of tactical judgments that must be made when cross-examining adverse witnesses, making objections, presenting one's own witnesses, and arguing a case to a judge or jury.

In the second half of the fall semester and throughout the spring semester, there will be additional simulated hearings and trials. There will also be seminar discussions of the criminal/juvenile legal systems and how defenders can work most effectively on behalf of their clients. The subjects covered in the seminar will include holistic representation for clients charged with criminal offenses or juvenile delinquency offenses; issues of racial and social injustice in the criminal and juvenile legal systems; and how defender offices can be more grounded in, and work on behalf of, the communities from which their clients come and to which they will return if incarcerated.

The seminar also will be used to expose students to a range of matters that arise in criminal and juvenile defense practice, including ethical concerns; the advent of technology in the criminal legal system; advocacy in the media, legislature, and the community to transform the criminal system; and the relationship between public defense, reform, and abolition. 

Qualifications for Applicants

It is recommended – but not required – that students take Criminal Procedure (or Criminal Litigation) and Evidence, but these courses may be taken concurrently with the clinic.

Application Procedure

Students should submit an application, resume and transcript on-line via CAMS. Leomaris Sanchez will contact you to schedule an interview with Randy Hertz and Vincent Southerland. If you have questions, you can direct them either to Ms. Sanchez at (212) 998-6477 or via email or to Randy Hertz or Vincent Southerland.

Student Contacts

Students who are interested in learning more about the course may wish to speak with the following students who are currently in Professor Hertz’s Juvenile Defender Clinic or Professor Southerland’s Criminal Defense and Reentry Clinic:

Juvenile Defender Clinic 2023-24:
Alijah Futterman*
Jack Hilles
Vanessa Holman
Lydia Horan
Morgan Hylton-Farrington
Natalie Lalama
Kaya Lawrence*
Kendell Long*
Leila Murphy
Cleo Nevakivi-Callanan*
Josh Rose
Grace Woods
* The asterisked students took the year-long Criminal Defense and Reentry Clinic in their 2L year in 2022-23 and therefore can speak about both the JRP casework and the CDP casework.

Criminal Defense and Reentry Clinic 2023-24:
Savannah Baker
Elise Brown
Veronika Edwards
Addison Jeske

Will Mann
Kelsey Muniz
Coleman Powell
Soreti Teshome


* 14 credits include 3 clinical credits and 4 academic seminar credits per semester.

** Any of these courses may be taken concurrently with the clinic.