Criminal Defense Clinic

The Criminal Defense Clinic engages students in the actual practice of criminal law, under supervision, on cases at all stages of the criminal process, from arraignment through trial.

Criminal Defense Clinic

The Criminal Defense Clinic (CDC) engages students in the actual practice of criminal law under the supervision of Professor Cominsky on cases at all stages of the criminal process, from arraignment through trial. Students appear in court regularly with their faculty supervisor, are assigned their own misdemeanor cases, and conduct or assist in all aspects of representation, including: client and witness interviews, investigations, discovery and document review, development of a case theory and litigation strategy, drafting motions and memoranda of law, and conducting or second chairing hearings and trials. In addition, students will represent clients who are serving life sentences with the possibility of parole and prepare for their parole hearing. Students will also draft and prepare an advocacy package on behalf of their parole prep client.

The Criminal Defense Clinic is a full year course comprised of seminar and fieldwork experience for both fall and spring semesters. Students practice as Legal Interns under a Student Practice Order issued by the Appellate Division. To meet the requirements of the Student Practice Order, the first three to four weeks of class involve an intensive 50-hour boot camp program on criminal law and procedure and practice in the New York City Criminal Courts.

During the fall semester, twice-weekly seminars focus on selected topics in criminal law and procedure, evidence, ethics, and lawyering skills, with a particular focus on question formulation and sequencing. Half the seminars are a mixture of lecture, discussion, demonstration, simulation, and critique. Simulations focus on critical lawyering skills, such as information acquisition through interviewing, direct examination and cross-examination, argumentation, persuasion, and oral argument. The other half are case rounds in which the subject of the seminars is drawn from the cases students are working on; students are expected to raise and discuss issues they are confronting in their cases. Students will be expected to regularly devote 21–28 hours per week during the fall semester.

During the spring semester, students continue to work on their cases and attend weekly “case rounds” seminars, and are expected to regularly devote 12–16 hours per week to the course, including both seminars and fieldwork and to spend additional time as required by their cases.

The fall and spring semesters are separately graded on a letter basis. Grades for both semesters are posted at the end of the spring semester.

Material covered in this clinic is tested on the New York Law Exam (NYLE).

Approved for the Experiential Learning Requirement. The course is open to third-year students only. Enrollment is limited. Registration is binding. Application and interview are required, and the application can be found on the Office of Clinical and Experiential Learning section of the NYLS Portal.

Recommended for the Following Professional Pathways: Civil Rights/Civil Liberties; Criminal Defense; Government/Public Sector; General Practice – Litigation/Dispute Resolution

Prerequisite or Co-requisite: Criminal Law; Evidence; Criminal Procedure-Investigation.

If taken as co-requisites, courses should be taken concurrently with the clinic in the fall semester. Requirement may be waived by clinic faculty.

11 Credits: Full Year Course 
Fall: 7 credits
Spring: 4 credits



Business and Financial Services

Intellectual Property and Privacy

Government and Public Interest Law

General Practice / Chart Your Path





Graduation Requirements