Criminal Defense Clinic

Advocacy for Clients + Community Collaboration

In the Criminal Defense Clinic, students learn a model of criminal defense based on collaborative advocacy. Students work with individuals, community organizations, and experts in various disciplines to address overcriminalization and the consequences of criminal legal interventions.

Clinic students provide defense representation to individuals facing misdemeanor charges, fees and fines based on past convictions, or seeking expungements in Tarrant and Dallas counties. Students will appear in court at pretrial appearances and hearings, potentially representing clients at trial. Students will learn how to provide legal counsel in a moment of crisis and the foundational principles of dedicated defense representation.  

The Criminal Defense Clinic student teams have advocated successfully on behalf of people seeking post-conviction relief. The teams also work collaboratively with local organizations and advocates improving systemic issues within criminal legal systems. 

Students in the clinic can expect to:

  • Develop client-centered, trauma-sensitive lawyering practices
  • Build trial advocacy skills, including developing a theory of the case(s)
  • Critically analyze systemic injustices, with an emphasis on the impact of criminal fees and fines on people and communities.
  • Learn to build narratives and hone negotiation skills
  • Work with interdisciplinary experts and advocates
  • Engage in in-depth fact investigation

Course Information

• In order to enroll in a Fall or Spring clinic, you must have completed or be concurrently enrolled in Professional Responsibility. Students who have not completed Professional Responsibility will be automatically enrolled in a section when admitted to a clinic. There are limited waivers of this requirement, but only if a student worked full-time in a law firm or other position requiring the handling of confidential information for one year or more before attending law school.

• Evidence

Recommended Courses:
Preference to students who have also completed or enrolled in Criminal Procedure.

Eligibility to Enroll:
• Completed first year of law school in a JD program
• Must be in good academic standing
• No Honor Code violations

Credit Hours/Experiential Hours:
Four to six (4-6) hours credit
Counts towards oral skills requirement

Terms available:
The Criminal Defense Clinic will not be offered in the Fall 2019 or the Fall of 2020. The Criminal Defense Clinic will be offered only in the spring semester for the 2019-20 and 2020-21 academic years.

Graded or Pass/Fail

Dropping Clinics:
Given the unique nature of clinics and the ethical obligations that arise for our attorneys when they expose students to actual client cases, students will not be allowed to drop a clinic after the first week of classes.

Professor Amber Baylor


Since clinics operate differently than doctrinal, writing, and other simulation courses, students must keep in mind the following before enrolling:

  • All clinical courses meet in the Clinical Program Office located in the Star-Telegram Building at 307 W. 7th Street, Fort Worth, Texas. It is a 0.6 mile walk from the Law School building to the clinical space.

  • All 3 and 4 unit clinic courses require that students spend a minimum of 6-8 hours per week at the clinical space.

  • Per our Academic Standards, students are expected to submit logs of their time to their supervising attorneys to receive credit. Your instructor will provide you with direction of how to keep track of your time.

  • In order to provide all of our students with a clinical opportunity, you cannot enroll in more than one clinic in any one semester.

  • You may not enroll in an externship and a clinic in the same semester unless authorized by the Associate Dean for Experiential Education.

  • If you plan to be employed by a law firm, government agency, or other unit engaged in providing legal services during the semester, you must disclose the employer’s information so the clinical program can determine if there are any conflicts that prevent the student from enrolling in the clinic.

  • Once a student is admitted to a clinic, the student must commit to attend a mandatory clinic orientation the first Friday of the semester from 12:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

  • Unless a special accommodation is necessary, free student parking is not available in the clinic space. The cost to valet in the Star-Telegram Building is $10. There is additional parking in the area that ranges from $6 to $10. Street metered parking is available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Student Application

Students are advised to review the Clinic Application & Registration Information Packet before submitting an application.

Student applications for the Criminal Defense Clinic are available online:

There is no Howdy registration for clinics. Instead, applications are reviewed and students are accepted during registration period on a rolling basis. Priority is given to applications we receive by the priority deadline -- please refer to the Course Schedule for the current priority deadline. Students are encouraged to apply as early as possible in order to secure a seat in the clinic of their choice for the semester they would like. Once a seat has been secured, registration is handled on your behalf by a faculty member or administrator in the Clinical Program Office. Questions about the clinics or the application process can be answered by emailing

Once a student is admitted to a clinic, the student must commit to attend a mandatory clinic orientation the first Friday of the semester from 12:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Clinics operate as law firms. Conflicts may arise if students enroll in a clinic and also work in a law firm or government agency in the first semester. If you plan to intern, extern, or otherwise, work during the semester you are in clinic, you will need to discuss with Dean Herrera. On the application you will be asked to indicate if you plan to intern, extern, or work elsewhere during the semester(s) you are applying for.