Lewis & Clark students have an abundance of opportunities to gain practical, hands-on experience in criminal law beyond the classroom. Students can be regularly found working or externing for the prosecution or defense in several county offices in Oregon, as well as the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Oregon and the Federal Public Defender. Others have worked in the private sector in defense firms or in non-profit advocacy organizations. Students can gain valuable practical experiences in a number of ways at Lewis & Clark including the following:
National Crime Victim Law Institute (NCVLI)
NCVLI is a national organization that advocates for the rights of victims of crime through litigation assistance, public policy, and professional education and training. Through NCVLI, about 12 students each year can participate in the Crime Victims Litigation Clinic for credit. Internships and volunteer opportunities are also available with NCVLI.
The Criminal Justice Reform Clinic (CJRC) offers an exciting opportunity for students to engage in a critical examination of and participation in important and complex issues in the criminal justice system.
The CJRC takes a holistic approach to criminal justice reform and is a structured outlet for students who are interested in criminal law and social justice. Students who participate in the clinic make a yearlong commitment earning four credits each semester. About 12 students each year can participate in the CJRC.
Legal Practicum in Criminal Law
The legal practicum provides students certifiable under the Oregon Supreme Court’s Student Appearance Rule with hands-on experience either prosecuting or defending criminal (misdemeanor and traffic) cases in high-volume, urban jurisdiction.
Externships in Criminal Law
While opportunities exist to get paid work doing criminal law, especially in the summer months and in the private sector, externships for law school credit also exist. The flexibility of our externship program allows students to work in a variety of areas of law as well as for different amounts of credit, in places all over the country, and at different times of year. Recent criminal law externs have worked for public defenders and district attorney offices, prosecuting attorney offices, state superior courts, with the ACLU, on capital appeals projects and wrongful convictions, and more. Those interested in wrongful convictions and innocence work, can also extern with the Oregon Innocence Project.
Oregon Student Appearance Rule
Through Oregon’s Student Appearance Rule, third-year law students have the unique opportunity to argue cases in court. Through these experiences, students can receive hands-on experience in all aspects of trial, including choosing a jury (voire dire), presenting evidence, cross-examining witnesses, and making opening and closing remarks. These developed skills prove invaluable, and employers are impressed with the skills graduates are able to use immediately upon employment.