For Students

Enrollment is by application and invitation only. Students who are accepted into the clinic must register for both Fall and Spring Semesters*

By the end of each semester, each student will have represented 4-6 clients. Students are fully responsible for their cases, from intake through disposition. The classroom component of the clinic focuses on skills development, ethics, and case strategy related to the practice of criminal law. Students also have the opportunity to hone their research and writing skills by drafting motions, letters, memoranda, and occasionally appellate briefs.

The clinical experience will benefit students regardless of whether they wish to go into defense, prosecution or civil litigation. Participants handle every phase of client representation, which may include, but not limited to:

  • Investigating cases and researching the law
  • Preparing cases for trial and negotiating with the prosecution
  • Interviewing and counseling clients and witnesses
  • Representing clients in hearings, and on occasion, representing clients in trials


  • The Criminal Defense Clinic is open to third year law students only.
  • Required Classes: Evidence, Criminal Procedure, and Professional Responsibility
  • Recommended prerequisites: Texas Criminal Procedure, Trial Advocacy, and/or moot court or mock trial experience
  • Students cannot be on scholastic probation
  • Accepted students cannot be previously or concurrently enrolled in another clinic, cannot be concurrently enrolled in an externship, may not have outside employment (although exceptions can be made), and may not sit for the February bar exam
  • Enrollment is by application and invitation only

*Although this clinic is offered as a two-semester (full year) course, in exceptional circumstances, a student may enroll for the fall semester only if they are a December graduate or taking the February bar exam upon approval of the supervising faculty member.

Student Selection Process

A Mandatory Information Session for students interested in participating in the Clinical Programs is held in February of each year. Information is provided by the Clinic Directors regarding each individual clinic, as well as the process for student selection. Students interested in applying to one or more clinics are instructed to complete the required documents and complete an online application on or before the deadline announced during the information session. Documents to be attached include the clinic application (indicating which clinics you are applying to), resume with references, unofficial transcript, a writing sample (if applying to the Tax Clinic), and a two-page narrative (for each individual clinic you are applying to) indicating why you are interested in a particular clinic. All clinics are by invitation only. Applications are reviewed by the Clinic Directors. Some Clinic Directors may conduct interviews (some may not depending on the demand), and offers are made to students by the Clinic Directors with a deadline for you to accept the offer. During open registration, the Registrar’s office enrolls you for the clinic. You will not be able to enroll yourself. For more information on the Student Selection Process and to learn more about each clinic, please visit:

"I have been very blessed to have been involved in the criminal defense clinic and I now feel prepared to be an attorney. I started the year as a young 3L student, the clinical program took my hand and dragged me head first, fearless, into the practice of law. Thank you!”

Sam Ackels
Criminal Defense Clinic