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Public Defender Clinics - The New Law School Scene

NCJ Number
M T Bloom
Date Published
31 pages
In a pamphlet published by the Council on Legal Responsibility (CLEPR), law school students describe the beneficial experiences derived by involvement in clinical programs in the local public defender offices.
Public defender programs, beginnings characterized by use of untrained law students and understaffed public defender offices, are described. Due to the extensive financial assistance by CLEPR starting in 1968, supervising attorneys with faculty status at law schools were paid to train law students to represent indigent clients in criminal cases. In order to determine the impact that CLEPR support has made on the Office of Public Defender and other agencies dedicated to indigent defense, senior year law school students at the University of Florida, Stanford University in California, and the Georgetown Law Center in the District of Columbia were asked to describe their work in offices of local public defenders. Individual student accounts of their involvement in public defender work illustrated several program advantages. The program gives law students, experience and poise in dealing with clients and handling themselves in the courtroom and provides a source of recruits for public defender work. In addition, it endows the law student with a heightened sense of realism in relation to dealing with difficult clients, the need for had work, and the necessity of accepting defeat. Moreover, it provides early exposure to trial experience, thereby enabling the law student either to advance rapidly in courtroom experience after leaving college or to make an early determination of whether or not to become a trial lawyer. Furthermore, the program upgrades the quality of legal defense in many public defender offices. Ten suggestions for establishing a new clinical public defender program are provided.


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