Criminal Defense Clinic

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The Criminal Defense Clinic empowers students to defend clients facing criminal charges in court and fight systemic disparity and injustice in the criminal system.

The clinic guides students in an examination of mass incarceration and misdemeanor enforcement. Students will design creative, data-backed responses and work with an array of community and advocacy partners to pursue justice. Through weekly seminar sessions, individual supervision meetings, and trial team brainstorming, student-advocates gain experience in client representation and trial preparation.

Students regularly appear in criminal court and work closely with clinic supervisors to strategize and prepare. As lead counsel, students build and utilize skills in client interaction, case planning and investigation, negotiation, and trial advocacy to vindicate the rights of their individual clients.


The unique emphasis of this clinic and the groundbreaking space that Duke Law is filling by incorporating data and science at the trial advocacy level as well as in policy reform is especially exciting. This interdisciplinary approach is the vanguard of criminal defense and expands the impact that trial level attorneys can have.

Clinical Professor Elana Fogel

Clinic Faculty

Course Description
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Criminal Defense Clinic, 447

The Criminal Defense Clinic will center around the direct representation of indigent clients facing prosecution for criminal charges in Durham District Court. The primary focus of student casework will be serving as lead counsel on misdemeanor cases. Students’ trial-level advocacy will be grounded in seminar examination of mass incarceration, the impacts of race and poverty in the criminal justice system, and principles of client-centered and community-oriented defense. Through observation and shadowing, their own in-court experiences, and close faculty supervision clinic students will develop professional skills in client interaction, fact-development, case planning, negotiation, legal writing and argument, and trial advocacy.