This is a clinical course in which each student is assigned to help represent an indigent defendant in the appeal of his or her felony conviction, under the supervision of attorneys from Michigan’s State Appellate Defender Office. The focus of the course is on the completion of an effectively written appellate brief on behalf of the client, to be filed in state or federal court. The goal of the course is to develop the student’s understanding and skill in all phases of appellate advocacy. The student will review the trial transcripts and lower court records, interview the client in prison (with the instructor), develop a strategy for appeal, conduct legal research, and help draft the client’s brief on appeal. Feedback is provided by frequent individual meetings with the instructors, as well as oral argument before a panel of attorneys experienced in criminal law. The course gives the student the opportunity to work on a real case with real consequences for the client. While most directly relevant to those interested in criminal law, its lessons in appellate advocacy should be of general interest. Class size is limited to 12 students to assure individual attention to each student.
The Clinic is a 4 credit course and meets the New York Pro-Bono requirement. Students must enroll in the 3 credit clinic and the 1 credit field component, taken concurrently. The 3 credit clinic and 1 credit field component are mandatory graded and ineligible for letter grade conversion to pass (“P”) election.
The Clinic fulfills the Law School’s professional responsibility requirement for graduation, but does not fulfill the New York State Bar ethics requirement.
For students who matriculated in or after May 2016, the Clinic can either fulfill the Law School’s professional responsibility requirement for graduation, fulfill the upper-level writing requirement, or the credits can count toward the Experiential Learning requirement — it cannot be used to fulfill more than one of these three particular requirements.