Criminal Law

As a lawyer who practices criminal law, you will either prosecute criminal cases or defend those accused of crimes. Your choice to prosecute the accused or to defend them will determine where you work.

  • Prosecutors work in local district attorney’s offices and for the federal Department of Justice.
  • Defense lawyers can work for public defenders’ offices or work privately through a law firm.
  • Many defense lawyers who work in law firms take court appointments. This means that they, like public defenders, handle cases for defendants who cannot afford to hire a lawyer.

After you gain experience in criminal law, you may decide to change direction. Lawyers who have practiced criminal law for several years often switch sides — from prosecutor to defense lawyer or vice versa. You may also consider working at a policy level by advising legislatures on criminal justice reform measures.

Core Courses

If you focus on criminal law, you should take the following courses.

  • Criminal Law
  • Criminal Procedure
  • Criminal Procedure Trial Rights
  • Texas Criminal Procedure (if you intend to practice in Texas)
  • Evidence
  • Sentencing Law & Policy Seminar
  • Advanced Issues in Criminal Justice
  • Negotiation: Theory & Practice

Recommended Courses

Below are recommended courses related to criminal law. You should choose courses that interest you or that will further your career objectives.

  • Juvenile Justice
  • National Security Law
  • Securities Regulation
  • Advanced Issues in Criminal Justice Seminar
  • Death Penalty Seminar
  • Domestic Violence Seminar
  • Law & Psychology Seminar
  • Trial Advocacy Practicum
  • Criminal Procedure Practicum
  • Texas Criminal Law Practicum
  • Post-Conviction Actual Innocence Claims
  • Scientific Criminal Evidence Workshop

Related Courses

You should also consider taking one or more of the following courses related to criminal law.

  • ADR Survey: Negotiation, Mediation & Arbitration
  • Courthouse Perspectives
  • Pretrial Motion Workshop
  • LARW III: Appellate Drafting



Learn about current externship opportunities by contacting Ms. Cecily Becker at

Student Organizations

Criminal Law Society