Clinic/Externships Course Descriptions

Mandatory Clinic Program

All students at UNM are required to complete a six credit-hour clinical course as part of the J.D. requirements. Students represent actual clients with supervision by tenured and tenure-track faculty. Students participate in one of four clinical sections:

Externships

Students gain valuable practical skills in a real-world setting while working with a supervising attorney. Externs confront actual legal problems and analyze and explore the various roles that lawyers or legal institutions play in their communities. Externships are intended to supplement and complement the knowledge and experience students receive in the Law Practice Clinic and in their other law school courses.

Criminal Law in Practice

Criminal Law in Practice

Course Description

Pre-req.: Evidence, co-req.: Ethics

Highly Recommended: Criminal Procedure I, Criminal Procedure II, Trial Practice, Evidence & Trial Practice

This course will be led by Professor Leo Romero. He will be assisted by four adjuncts--two adjuncts assigned to the course by the Bernalillo County Public Defender’s Office and by two assigned by the Bernalillo County District Attorney’s office.

Law School Credit and Grading

The course will be offered for four credits, and will be graded on a “CR”, “C-”, ”D+”, “D”, “D-“, “F” basis. Although the course includes a field experience component, it does not count toward the required six credit hours of “in-house” clinic.

Classroom component

The class will meet for two hours each week. Instruction will include topics of applied criminal law, evidence, professional responsibility, and trial practice. Students will view problems from the perspectives of both criminal defense lawyers and prosecutors. The perspective of others in the criminal justice system, such as judges and corrections workers will also be included to the extent possible. Because the classroom component will involve both defenders and prosecutors, principles of professionalism will be explored.

Field Experience Component

Eight students will be assigned to the Bernalillo County Public Defender’s Office and eight will be assigned to the District Attorney’s Office for field experience work. The field experience will consist of ten hours per week. The supervision of the students’ field work will be provided by assistant public defenders and assistant district attorneys. These attorneys will work with students to assure that the students have meaningful field work each week. In addition to hands on experience, students’ field work will include observation of many of the lawyering tasks undertaken within the respective offices. Students may be assigned to either the felony or misdemeanor division. Depending on a student’s qualifications (having completed courses in criminal procedure, evidence, and trial practice) she or he will be assigned direct case responsibility (under the supervision of an experienced lawyer) for handling all or portions of their assigned cases, including motions and trials in a wide array of cases. The experience will be rich, intensive, and diverse.

DWI and Domestic Violence Prosecution in Practice

DWI/DV Prosecution in Practice

Course Description

This class will consist of a classroom and field experience component which will educate and prepare students to address the specific needs of DWI and DV prosecution in the state. Students completing the course will have the essential skills required to pursue careers in the criminal law field.

Classroom component
The class will meet for two set hours each week. Instruction will include topics of applied criminal law, evidence, professional responsibility, sentencing and trial practice, specific to the prosecution of DWI, DV, and attendant crimes. In addition to the legal training in the area of prosecuting cases, the class will explore beyond the legal practicalities and educate students on the causes behind and treatment of DWI and DV cases. Students will get a well-rounded education to prepare them not only to prosecute, but to help work towards the prevention and reduced recidivism of DWI and DV offenses and offenders.  

Field Experience Component
Students will be assigned 10 hours of field experience work per week. Field experience will include both case prosecution as well as educational activities to complement the case work, such as attending roadblocks or drug court. The supervision of the students' field work will be provided by the professor, with occasional assistance from assistant district attorneys. Depending on a student's qualifications (having completed courses in criminal procedure, evidence, and trial practice) she or he will be assigned direct case responsibility (under the supervision of the professor) for handling all or portions of their assigned cases, including motions and trials in a wide array of cases. The experience will be rich, intensive, and diverse. Students who wish to gain further experience may be eligible for an Advanced Program the following semester.

Appellate Law in Practice

Appellate Law in Practice

Course Description

What if you were able to take a course that actually got you practicing appellate law in New Mexico? What if all your hard and late-night legal research and writing work this year could be put to use in real cases where it would actually make a difference? Would you like to work one-on-one with established and talented New Mexico appellate attorneys in the Appellate Division of the Public Defender on a variety of criminal law issues? Are you preparing for an appellate clerkship? How about working on cases you might actually be able to cite to on your resume? Appellate Law and Practice is a year-long course in which you will work on actual pending appeals and prepare pleadings, while covering in symposium-style topics such as brief writing, oral argument, summary calendar process, appellate ethics, appellate jurisdiction, standards of review and more.

Innocence & Justice Seminar

Innocence & Justice

Course Description

Students in the Innocence and Justice seminar will study the systemic causes of wrongful convictions in the context of real-life actual innocence case studies from around the country. The curriculum is culled from many different sources, including newspaper articles, documentary films, actual police reports and tapes of interrogations, case law and law reviews. Students will also have the opportunity to work to provide post-conviction relief for inmates who have been wrongly convicted and who have a credible claim of factual innocence of the charged offense(s). During the first several weekly sessions, students will be provided with an overview of criminal procedure, trial practice, and habeas corpus law. The next several sessions will be devoted to the causes of wrongful convictions, including mistaken eyewitness identifications, bogus forensic science, prosecutorial/police misconduct, and ineffective assistance of counsel. Students will also be doing a review and brainstorming of inmates' files; each student will be expected to present a short written case-brief of a number of inmates' files and a short oral presentation of pertinent information about the inmates' cases to the seminar participants, who will provide input on the strengths and weaknesses of the cases. Sessions on investigative techniques will be included throughout the semester.

Course work used for grading includes active participation in seminar, written case-briefs and an oral presentation to the Innocence and Justice Project Board of Directors at the end of the semester.

In this unique seminar, students will apply newly-gained knowledge about the Great Writ to real cases involving inmates in New Mexico prisons who have submitted information about their cases to the New Mexico Innocence and Justice Project and who have a colorable claim of factual innocence. Seminar participants will learn invaluable investigative techniques in the process of uncovering the facts that eluded the trial court that convicted the inmates. Students may also have the opportunity to work with practicing attorneys by drafting motions and pleadings.

Enrollment is limited to twelve students in their second or third year.

Any students in the above courses who are representing actual clients do so under the close supervision of faculty or practicing attorneys.