The Law School’s criminal law curriculum is broad and rich. Students with a strong interest in criminal practice will find much to choose from. The Criminal Law Faculty Group recommends that students pursue a wide-ranging legal education that will expand their intellectual horizons and prepare them to recognize challenges, problems and opportunities that will inevitably arise throughout their career.
Courses that are Important Foundations for a Career in Criminal Practice
- Criminal Law (1L)
- Criminal Procedure: Students have a variety of options:
- Criminal Procedure can be taken as either a 1L elective or an upper-year course. If students take the 1L elective (which will usually be the version of the course that focuses on the 4th and 5th Amendments), they can take the “Bail to Habeas Corpus” Criminal Procedure course in the upper years.
- The upper-level Criminal Procedure courses take the form of a semester-long “Criminal Procedure: Survey” course, a semester-long course on “Criminal Procedure: 4th and 5th Amendments,” and a semester-long course on “Criminal Procedure: Bail to Habeas Corpus.” The Survey and 4th/5th Amendment courses overlap to such an extent that students should not take both of these courses. But either course could be taken in conjunction with the “Bail to Habeas Corpus” course.
- A semester-long simulation course titled Criminal Litigation focuses on criminal procedure and evidence in the context of a simulated state-court criminal case. This course can be taken in addition to any of the versions of the Criminal Procedure course.
- Professional Responsibility: All J.D. students are required to take a course in Professional Responsibility for at least 2 credits. One of the versions of the course focuses on Professional Responsibility in Criminal Practice.
- Criminal Practice Clinic or Externship: Clinics and externships provide a valuable foundation for any student who intends to go into criminal practice after graduation. Students may wish to consider one or more of the following clinics and externships:
Courses that Provide a Deep Grounding in Criminal Practice
The basic Criminal Procedure courses provide an introduction to the criminal process and key doctrines like the constitutional rules for suppressing tangible evidence and statements. The simulation course Criminal Litigation uses a simulated New York State criminal case to provide a more in-depth understanding of how defenders and prosecutors can use substantive criminal law, criminal procedure, and rules of evidence to win a suppression hearing or a trial.
All of the trial-level criminal practice clinics and externships provide extensive instruction in all of the aspects of criminal trial work. Students can decide whether they would like to receive that instruction while working on trial-level cases on the defense side (in the Criminal Defense and Reentry Clinic, or Federal Defender Clinic, or Juvenile Defender Clinic) or on the prosecution side (in the Local Prosecution Clinic, or EDNY Prosecution Externship, or SDNY Prosecution Clinic).
Students can also take a clinic or externship that focuses on other types of criminal practice, such as appellate work (the Criminal Appellate Defender Clinic), or capital and post-conviction work (the Equal Justice and Defender Externship).
White Collar Criminal Cases; Business Crimes; Corporate Compliance
The law school offers a number of courses in the areas of white collar crime, business crime, and corporate compliance. Students interested in practice in one or more of these areas may wish to consider taking one or more of the following courses: Business Crime; Complex Investigations Seminar; Corruption and Corruption Control Seminar; Federal Criminal Law; Foreign Corrupt Practices Seminar; and/or Regulation of Foreign Corrupt Practices Seminar. Courses in the Corporate and Business Law area—such as Accounting, Corporations, and Securities—may prove useful. Foundational courses to more specialty areas of practice also may be helpful: e.g., antitrust, environmental, tax, intellectual property, regulation of financial institutions, cybersecurity, and whistleblowers.
Courses that Provide a Deeper Look at a Particular Stage or Aspect of the Criminal Justice Process
A number of courses focus on a specific aspect of the criminal process or a specific aspect of the criminal justice system to provide a deeper understanding of particular issues and their implications for the criminal justice system as a whole. These include:
- The American Penal State Seminar
- Brennan Center Public Policy Advocacy Clinic
- Business Crime
- Civil Rights: Challenging Mass Incarceration (clinic)
- Complex Investigations Seminar
- Corporate Crime and Financial Misdealing: Legal and Policy Analysis Seminar
- Corruption and Corruption Control Seminar
- Counterterrorism Intelligence Gathering and Law Enforcement
- Cybersecurity Law and Technology Seminar
- Federal Criminal Law
- Foreign Corrupt Practices Seminar
- Forensic Evidence Seminar
- Human Trafficking Seminar
- Immigrant Defense Clinic
- Immigration Penalties and Crimes
- Immigrant Rights Clinic
- Intellectual Property Crimes Seminar
- Organized Crime Control Seminar
- Policing Colloquium: The Cutting Edge of Public Safety
- Racial Equity Strategies Clinic
- Racial Justice Clinic
- Regulation of Foreign Corrupt Practices Seminar
- Retribution in Criminal Justice: Violence and its Relation to Manhood (Shakespeare) Seminar
- Science and the Courts Seminar
- Sentencing Seminar
- Whistleblower Law: Deterring Fraud Against the Government (simulation course)