The Criminal Justice Clinic was created in 1976 to provide quality legal representation to indigent persons facing criminal prosecution, to provide students with a practical, jury-trial, real world experience in representing indigent defendants in the Dallas County Criminal Courts, and to provide the students with an opportunity to observe experienced lawyers defending accused individuals. The Criminal Justice Clinic represents about 500 clients a year and is an accepted part of the Dallas County Criminal Bar. County judges, county clerks, public defenders, and district attorneys respect and cooperate with the Criminal Clinic program, recognizing the fiscal contribution the Clinic makes through it free representation of indigents.
During its 36 years, the Criminal Justice Clinic has trained a total of between 900 and 1000 students. A large number of Criminal Clinic alumni are found throughout the local Criminal Bar.
Each spring and fall semester the Criminal Justice Clinic accepts 12 to 13 students and 3 to 5 students are accepted for the summer semester. Before regular classes begin, these students undergo an intensive orientation program. Each spring or fall semester each student gets 10 to 20 cases, of which 1 to 5 are pending jury trials. The summer semester students each get from 60 to 80 pending cases, 5 to 20 of which are pending jury trials. Each student continues to pick up new cases throughout the semester. During the spring and fall semester there are two supervising attorneys and from four to six Chief Counsels (students from the prior semester) who are responsible for reviewing all cases with all students to assure that the files are up to date and various trial strategies and evidence issues are not overlooked.