IN FORDHAM'S CRIMINAL DEFENSE CLINIC, students are out front representing clients in Manhattan Criminal Court and getting a hard look at how the American criminal justice system really works. Soon after weeks of intensive preparation, students meet their first client in the holding cell behind the courtroom. Ninety minutes later they are appearing before a judge arguing for their client's immediate release. Where the case goes from that point is up to the student.
Under the supervision of faculty members with long experience in criminal practice, students interview and counsel clients, investigate their cases, draft motions and legal documents, and argue in court. Students also benefit from interdisciplinary collaboration with a graduate fellow in Forensic Psychology supervised by Dr. Barry Rosenfeld and Social Work graduate students supervised by Kathy Ho, LMSW, LCSW. This partnership allows the students to understand and address the social and psychological issues that are so often part of their clients' cases.
By incorporating diverse academic perspectives when representing clients, often from backgrounds different than their own, students become more appreciative of the legal system's strengths and more honest about its limits.