Learn the real-world practice of criminal law.

Students enrolled in the Criminal Law Clinical Program learn first-hand what it means to be a criminal law attorney. They conduct investigations to formulate trial strategy, file pre-trial motions, participate in plea bargaining, try cases and make sentencing arguments. Students follow their cases from beginning to end; in recent years some clinic students have even taken their cases to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. Students can choose from the following:

  • Prosecutor Program
  • Public Defender Program (Adult)
  • Public Defender Program (Juvenile)

The Criminal Law Clinical Program is a two-semester Program. During the first semester of participation, students (called ‘juniors’) act in a supporting role on cases handled by ‘senior’ members of the Program. The ‘seniors’ are second semester students who carry full responsibility for their own cases, and are assigned to either the Prosecutor Clinic or the Defender Clinic.

Students begin the Criminal Law Clinical Program as either a 2L or 3L. The requirements for each ‘track’ are different, so please read carefully below. All students participating in the Criminal Clinic are eligible for the Concentration in Litigation and Dispute Resolution.

Second-year track

The 2L track begins either fall or spring semester of a student’s second year and is completed in either fall or spring semester of the third year.

Pre-/co-requisites: Students must take a course in Evidence and a course in Criminal Procedure in either the first or second semester of their second year.

2L year requirements

Students participate in two courses: Criminal Trial Practice I and Criminal Trial Advocacy.

3 credits

THIS CLASS IS RESTRICTED to students who have formally applied to and been accepted to the Criminal Law Clinical Program. This course meets in the spring and is mandatory for all 2L students in the Criminal Law Clinical Program. Criminal Trial Advocacy focuses on teaching courtroom skills in the context of criminal trial litigation. NOTE: The Criminal Law Clinical Program satisfies the upper-class professional skills requirement and counts towards the 6 credit Experiential Learning requirement. GRADING NOTICE: This course does not offer the CR/NC/H option.

SPRG 2018: LAW JD 981 A1 , Jan 16th to Apr 24th 2018
Days Start End Credits Instructors Bldg
Tue 2:10 pm 4:10 pm 3 David RossmanBrian A. Wilson
Fri 10:30 am 1:30 pm 3 David RossmanBrian A. Wilson

5 credits

THIS CLASS IS RESTRICTED to students who have formally applied to and been accepted to the Criminal Law Clinical Program. Criminal Trial Practice I is mandatory for students in their first semester of the Program. 2Ls take the course fall or spring, as determined in consultation with the Director of the Criminal Law Clinical Program upon acceptance to the Program. 3Ls take the course in the fall. The course consists of a fieldwork and classroom component. The classroom component provides students with an introduction to Massachusetts criminal procedure and basic instruction in lawyering skills such as case planning and investigation. For their fieldwork, students are assigned to cases handled by senior members of the Program and conduct tasks out of court such as legal research, fact investigation, witness interviews and preparation. Students spend one morning a week in court observing and second seating the cases they have helped to prepare. NOTE: The Criminal Clinical Program satisfies the upper-class professional skills requirement and counts towards the 6 credit Experiential Learning requirement. GRADING NOTICE: This course does not offer the CR/NC/H option.

FALL 2017: LAW JD 982 A1 , Sep 5th to Dec 7th 2017
Days Start End Credits Instructors Bldg
Tue 4:20 pm 6:20 pm 5 David RossmanBrian A. Wilson
SPRG 2018: LAW JD 982 A1 , Jan 16th to Apr 24th 2018
Days Start End Credits Instructors Bldg
Tue 2:10 pm 4:10 pm 5 David RossmanBrian A. Wilson
Fri 10:30 am 1:30 pm 5 David RossmanBrian A. Wilson

3L year requirements

Students take Criminal Trial Practice II, during either the fall or spring semester.

8 credits

THIS CLASS IS RESTRICTED to 3L students who started the Criminal Clinic in Spring 2015. Criminal Trial Practice II will consider advanced issues in criminal practice, such as motions to suppress and sentencing advocacy. In conjunction with their class work, these students will be assigned to either the Prosecutor or Defender component of the clinic. Each student will be expected to devote at least two mornings a week to their work in court. NOTE: The Criminal Clinical Program satisfies the upper-class professional skills requirement.


Optional fall courses: Whichever semester students do their clinical work, we offer two optional courses in the fall specifically designed for Criminal Law Clinical Program students: Professional Responsibility and Issues in Criminal Justice.

3 credits

This seminar will explore issues which the students encounter in the cases which they litigate. The seminar will discuss the role of the parties in the criminal justice system and institutional problems that play a recurring role.

3 credits

THIS CLASS IS RESTRICTED to students who have formally applied to and been accepted to the Criminal Law Clinical Program. It is open to all 3Ls and 2Ls participating in the Program either semester. The course focuses on ethical issues that arise in the context of criminal trial litigation. NOTE: This course satisfies the Professional Responsibility requirement. GRADING NOTICE: This course does not offer the CR/NC/H option.

FALL 2017: LAW JD 923 A1 , Sep 6th to Dec 6th 2017
Days Start End Credits Instructors Bldg
Wed 5:00 pm 7:00 pm 3 Stuart Hurowitz

Third-year track

Available to third-year students, this track begins with classroom work in the fall semester and culminates in trial work in the spring semester.

Pre-/co-requisites: students must have completed, by the end of the first semester of 3L year, a course in Evidence, a course in Trial Advocacy, and a course in Criminal Procedure.

Fall semester requirements

5 credits

THIS CLASS IS RESTRICTED to students who have formally applied to and been accepted to the Criminal Law Clinical Program. Criminal Trial Practice I is mandatory for students in their first semester of the Program. 2Ls take the course fall or spring, as determined in consultation with the Director of the Criminal Law Clinical Program upon acceptance to the Program. 3Ls take the course in the fall. The course consists of a fieldwork and classroom component. The classroom component provides students with an introduction to Massachusetts criminal procedure and basic instruction in lawyering skills such as case planning and investigation. For their fieldwork, students are assigned to cases handled by senior members of the Program and conduct tasks out of court such as legal research, fact investigation, witness interviews and preparation. Students spend one morning a week in court observing and second seating the cases they have helped to prepare. NOTE: The Criminal Clinical Program satisfies the upper-class professional skills requirement and counts towards the 6 credit Experiential Learning requirement. GRADING NOTICE: This course does not offer the CR/NC/H option.

FALL 2017: LAW JD 982 A1 , Sep 5th to Dec 7th 2017
Days Start End Credits Instructors Bldg
Tue 4:20 pm 6:20 pm 5 David RossmanBrian A. Wilson
SPRG 2018: LAW JD 982 A1 , Jan 16th to Apr 24th 2018
Days Start End Credits Instructors Bldg
Tue 2:10 pm 4:10 pm 5 David RossmanBrian A. Wilson
Fri 10:30 am 1:30 pm 5 David RossmanBrian A. Wilson

Spring semester requirements

Criminal Trial Practice II (5-8 credits) examines advanced issues in criminal practice, such as motions to suppress and sentencing advocacy. In conjunction with their class work, students are assigned to either the Prosecutor Clinic or the Defender Clinic. Students in the Prosecutor Clinic receive five credits and must be available to be in court one day a week. Students in the Defender Clinic receive eight credits and must be available to be in court two days a week.

8 credits

THIS CLASS IS RESTRICTED to students who have formally applied to and been accepted to the Criminal Law Clinical Program. Criminal Trial Practice II is for students in their second semester of the Program and who have been assigned to the Defender section. Students represent indigent defendants charged with criminal offenses in either the Boston Municipal Court or the Boston Juvenile Court. Students gain exposure to lawyering experiences such as investigation, interviewing, counseling and trial advocacy with a primary emphasis on the development of trial skills. Students spend the first part of the semester acting as defense counsel in misdemeanor cases of increasing complexity. Later in the semester, representation in felony cases is possible, as well as exposure to a number of other aspects of the criminal justice system. Students must be available to be in court two days a week, from Monday through Thursday. NOTE: The Criminal Clinical Program satisfies the upper-class professional skills requirement and counts towards the 6 credit Experiential Learning requirement. GRADING NOTICE: This course does not offer the CR/NC/H option.

FALL 2017: LAW JD 898 A1 , Sep 8th to Dec 1st 2017
Days Start End Credits Instructors Bldg
Fri 10:30 am 12:30 pm 8 Wendy KaplanDavid Rossman
SPRG 2018: LAW JD 898 A1 , Jan 18th to Apr 26th 2018
Days Start End Credits Instructors Bldg
Thu 4:20 pm 6:20 pm 8 Wendy KaplanDavid Rossman

OR

Var credits

THIS CLASS IS RESTRICTED to students who have formally applied to and been accepted to the Criminal Law Clinical Program. Criminal Trial Practice II is for students in their second semester of the Program and who have been assigned to the Prosecutor section. Students act as prosecutors in the Quincy District Court on behalf of the Norfolk County District Attorney's office, handling felony and misdemeanor cases of increasing complexity under the supervision of the clinical professor. Students are exposed to a wide variety of experiences, including investigation, interviewing and trial advocacy. Students litigate evidentiary hearings and conduct every phase of a jury or bench trial. Students collaborate but serve as the lead prosecutors on their own cases. Case assignments are based upon an individual assessment of a student's progress and demonstrated competence. Students in the Prosecutor Program may choose to be in court either one or two days a week, Monday through Thursday. Those in court only one day receive 5 credits, those in court two days receive 8 credits. NOTE: The Criminal Clinical Program satisfies the upper-class professional skills requirement and counts towards the 6 credit Experiential Learning requirement. GRADING NOTICE: This course does not offer the CR/NC/H option.

FALL 2017: LAW JD 899 A1 , Sep 8th to Dec 1st 2017
Days Start End Credits Instructors Bldg
Fri 10:30 am 12:30 pm Var David RossmanBrian A. Wilson
FALL 2017: LAW JD 899 B1 , Sep 8th to Dec 1st 2017
Days Start End Credits Instructors Bldg
Fri 10:30 am 12:30 pm Var David RossmanBrian A. Wilson
SPRG 2018: LAW JD 899 A1 , Jan 18th to Apr 19th 2018
Days Start End Credits Instructors Bldg
Thu 4:20 pm 6:20 pm Var Brian A. WilsonDavid Rossman
SPRG 2018: LAW JD 899 B1 , Jan 18th to Apr 19th 2018
Days Start End Credits Instructors Bldg
Thu 4:20 pm 6:20 pm Var Brian A. WilsonDavid Rossman

For specific course information, click here.

Defender Clinic

‘Senior’ students in the Program are assigned to either the Defender Clinic or the Prosecutor Clinic. In the Defender Clinic, students represent indigent defendants charged with criminal offenses in either the Boston Municipal Court or the Boston Juvenile Court. Students act as defense counsel under the supervision of the clinical professor. The work in court provides students with exposure to lawyering experiences such as investigation, interviewing, counseling and trial advocacy. Primary emphasis is on the development of trial skills, and students spend the first part of the semester acting as defense counsel in misdemeanor cases of increasing complexity. Later in the semester, representation in felony cases is possible. At all times case assignments are based upon an individual assessment of a student’s progress and demonstrated competence.

Prosecutor Clinic

‘Senior’ students in the Program are assigned to either the Defender Clinic or the Prosecutor Clinic. In the Prosecutor Clinic, students act as prosecutors in the Quincy District Court, for the Norfolk County District Attorney’s office. The students have responsibility for all aspects of the cases they are assigned, under the supervision of the clinical professor. Students are exposed to a wide variety of experiences, including investigation, interviewing and trial advocacy. Students spend the first part of the semester representing the Commonwealth in misdemeanor cases of increasing complexity. Later in the semester, representation in felony cases is possible, as well as having an opportunity to appear before a six-person jury session. At all times case assignments are based upon an individual assessment of a student’s progress and demonstrated competence.

Faculty & Additional Information

The Criminal Law Clinical Program is taught by:

For more information, please contact Program Director David Rossman. Applications are available each April for participation the next academic year.