Criminal Law Fellows Program

The Criminal Law Fellowship Program brings together a group of students passionate about working in the criminal law, whether as criminal defense attorneys, prosecutors, policy-makers, lawmakers, reformers, or activists. 

The Program focuses especially on developing essential practice skills that will help Fellows jump into practice quickly and confidently, and on helping Fellows start networking with attorneys already practicing criminal law so that Fellows can meet future colleagues, mentors, advisors, recommenders, and employers before they finish law school.

Below, you will find a number of important resources for Criminal Law Fellows, including:


INTRODUCTION TO THE PROGRAM DIRECTORS

Co-Director: Professor Anders Kaye
andeskaye@tjsl.edu

 

Teaching Expertise: Criminal Law, Criminal Procedure, Vice Crime, Evidence, Federal Criminal Law, The Law of Rape

 

Criminal Practice: Public defender, New York Legal Aid Society, Criminal Appeals Bureau (1997-2001). Consultant to New York Capital Defender’s Office.

 

Research: Why do we punish? Who deserves to be punished (if anyone)? Are there alternative approaches to crime prevention and control that do not require infliction of punishment? Why are drug use and non-violent, non-traditional sex made crimes?  

Co-Director: Professor Alex Kreit
akreit@tjsl.edu

 

Courses: Controlled Substances, Criminal Law, Criminal Procedure, International Business and White Collar Crime, and International and Comparative Drug Control.

 

Criminal Practice: Member of the Appellate Defenders Inc. panel, representing indigent defendants in state criminal appeals.  Also regularly consults with criminal law reform organizations, particularly on drug law and sentencing law.  Leading national figure in drug law reform.

 

Research: All aspects of drug crime, drug law, and drug policy, as well as related areas of criminal procedure and constitutional law.


PROGRAM REQUIREMENTS

In order to complete the Fellowship Program, you must satisfy a number of requirements, set out below. Doing so allows you to identify yourself as a Criminal Law Fellow upon graduation, signaling to employers and peers that you have a long-standing commitment to criminal practice, and that you have made a serious effort to prepare for that practice. It also enables the Directors of the Program to identify you as a Fellow in references and recommendation letters, and to provide concrete, meaningful evidence of your passion for and investment in practicing criminal law.

Here are the Fellowship Program's formal requirements:

  1. Admission to the Fellow Program. Fellows must be admitted to the Program.
    a. This normally occurs at the time of admission to the law school. 
    b. At their discretion, the Director’s may admit a student to the Program after the admissions process is complete if there is an opening in the Program, the Program requirements can reasonably be completed, and the student demonstrates a serious interest in practicing criminal law after graduation.
  2. Substantial Study of Criminal Law. Fellows must complete at least eighteen units of (qualifying) criminal law courses, with passing grades, prior to graduation. Courses focused primarily on criminal law or criminal procedure doctrine or policy, including the required courses in Criminal Law and Criminal Procedure, normally qualify. The Program Directors determine which courses qualify, so if you are in doubt about a course, please contact one of the Program Directors. 
  3. Complete One One-Unit Fellow Course. Fellows must complete at least one one-unit Fellow course in order to satisfy the requirements for the Program. The Directors will arrange to offer at least one one-unit Fellow course each school year. Fellows may take the course in their first, second, or third year of study.
  4. Participation in Fellow Events. Fellows must regularly attend Fellow events throughout their time in the Program. Fellows must attend at least three Fellow events in their first year of study, four Fellow events their second year of study, and four Fellow events in their third year of study. 
  5. Criminal Practice Externship or Internship.
    a. Fellows must complete at least one externship, internship, or other similar employment with an agency, office, or attorney in criminal practice. The practice experience should involve predominantly criminal practice and should be equivalent to at least a full semester of at least ten hours of work per week.
    b. The Directors will determine whether the practice experience qualifies, considering such factors as the duration of the experience, the proportion of the experience devoted to criminal practice, and the Fellows duties and responsibilities during the practice experience.
  6. Waiver of Requirements in Exceptional Circumstances. In exceptional circumstances, the Directors may waive any of these requirements at their discretion. Please let us know as early as possible if you anticipate seeking a waiver due to exceptional circumstances.  
  7. Removal in Exceptional Circumstances. The Directors may, at their discretion, in exceptional circumstances, suspend or remove a Fellow from the Program. For example, the Directors may do so if they believe that Program participation will make it difficult for a Fellow to succeed academically, or if they believe a Fellow’s conduct conflicts with Program administration or with other Fellows’ learning experiences in the Program.     
  8. Graduation Memorandum. Fellows approaching graduation must send the Program Directors a brief (but complete) Graduation Memorandum showing how they have fulfilled the requirements above.  Doing so enables us to include you in our records as a student who has completed the Criminal Law Fellowship Program. It also ensures that we will have detailed information about you that we can use in references and recommendations in the future. Your Graduation Memorandum should specifically address each of the requirements set out above. Please send your Memorandum to Professor Kaye at anderskaye@tjsl.edu and Professor Kreit at akreit@tjsl.edu.

SUGGESTED COURSE OF STUDY AND PRACTICE FOR CRIMINAL LAW FELLOWS

The Fellow Program is meant to enable Fellows to hit the ground running in criminal practice after graduation. In order to achieve this goal, the Program requires Fellows to develop practice skills, knowledge of the criminal law, and professional networks in a number of different ways.  The table below suggests a course of study and practice for doing so. 

While Fellows are not required to follow this course, all Fellows should plan carefully to complete the Program’s requirements, to arrange extensive practice opportunities, to study substantive criminal law throughout their course of study, and to persistently pursue opportunities to expand their professional networks.   

 

First Year

What to Focus On

  • Mastering Fundamental Substantive Law
  • Starting to Develop Criminal Law Practice Skills
  • Starting to Develop a Professional Network
  • Becoming More Familiar with Criminal Practice

 

What to Do

1L Courses. In their first year, Fellows should devote nearly all their time and energy to successfully completing the regular first-year curriculum.  This is an essential foundation for success in law school, on the bar, and in practice.

Legal Writing. 1L Fellows may be enrolled in a legal-writing course dedicated to criminal law and procedure issues. 

One-Unit Course. In the Spring semester, 1L Fellows will have the opportunity to enroll in a special one-unit, one-weekend, Fellows-only course on a criminal law or procedure topic.  Normally, this course is Introduction to Criminal Trial Practice.

Fellow Events. 1L Fellows should attend all scheduled Criminal Law Fellow events, including all lunch panel discussions with criminal law practitioners. 

Externship Planning. In the spring semester, 1L Fellows should meet with the Director of the Externship Program, Professor Judybeth Tropp, in order to arrange criminal practice externships for the summer and/or 2L year. 

First Summer

What to Focus On

  • Developing Criminal Law Practice Skills
  • Starting to Build a Professional Network

 

What to Do

Externship / Criminal Practice.  In summer after completing the 1L curriculum, Fellows should work in the criminal justice field – for a public defender’s office, district attorney’s office, private criminal defense office, criminal justice law reform organization, or other similar criminal practice employer.  This work experience will be critical to developing essential practice skills, building a resume for future employment, and starting to develop a professional network.  

Getting Certified (Taking Evidence). Fellows should also strongly consider becoming certified for supervised practice. Under the supervision of a practicing attorney, certified students are authorized to engage in a wide range of lawyering activities: they can appear at trials and hearings, take depositions, negotiate on behalf of clients, and give legal advice.  Thus, this is an important step toward development of essential practice skill. In order to become certified, a Thomas Jefferson student must have completed one full year of law school, must have completed or be enrolled in Evidence and Civil Procedure, and must complete an application that includes a declaration from an attorney who will supervise the student’s work. See California Rules of Court, Rule 9.42. Many Fellows take Evidence during their first summer, and become certified at the start of the summer, so that they can start to make appearances in court during that summer.    

Second Year

What to Focus On

  • Reinforcing Criminal Law Practice Skills
  • Expanding Professional Networks
  • Deepening Substantive Knowledge of the Criminal Law

 

What to Do

Externship(s).  2L Fellows should complete an externship during at least one semester of their 2L year. If they have not done so already, Fellows should seek out the Director of the Externship Program, Professor Judybeth Tropp, in order to arrange criminal practice externships for the 2L year.

Criminal Law Electives.  Fellows in their second year should enroll in electives covering criminal law, criminal procedure, and criminal justice topics.  (Remember, in order to graduate as a Fellow, Fellows must complete 18 units of criminal law courses, including 12 units of criminal law electives. Fellows are given priority registration for such electives.) Fellows are especially encouraged to enroll in Adjudicatory Criminal Procedure, which covers constitutional rules of criminal procedure that apply from the bail hearing to the end of the criminal trial, including right to counsel, ineffective assistance, jury selection, rights at trial, sentencing, and  many other topics that are critical to criminal practice and that are heavily bar-tested.    

Criminal Law Focused Trial Practice Course.  The Law School offers a section of Trial Practice emphasizing criminal law issues nearly every semester.  Fellows are strongly encouraged to take this course.

Fellow Events.  2L Fellows should attend all scheduled Criminal Law Fellow events, including all lunch panel discussions with criminal law practitioners.

Second Summer

What to Focus On

  • Reinforcing Criminal Law Practice Skills
  • Expanding Professional Networks
  • Laying Foundation for Post-Graduate Employment

 

What to Do

Externship / Criminal Practice.  In summer after completing the 2L curriculum, Fellows should work in the criminal justice field – for a public defender’s office, district attorney’s office, private criminal defense office, criminal justice law reform organization, or other similar criminal practice employer.  Doing so enables Fellows to strengthen essential practice skills, strengthen their resumes for future employment, and deepen their professional networks.  Second summer employment is often a critical stepping stone to post-graduate work – with the second-summer employer, or with other employers the Fellow connects with during the second summer.

Getting Certified.  Fellows who have not already been certified for supervised practice should do so for this summer.  (Certification is discussed fully above, in the First Summer section.)

Third Year

What to Focus On

  • Reinforcing Criminal Law Practice Skills
  • Expanding Professional Networks
  • Deepening Substantive Knowledge of the Criminal Law
  • Preparing for the Bar Examination. 

What to Do

Externship(s). 3L Fellows who have not already completed at least one externship in criminal practice should complete an externship during at least one semester of their 3L year. If they have not done so already, Fellows should seek out the Director of the Externship Program, Professor Judybeth Tropp, in order to arrange criminal practice externships for the 3L year.

Criminal Law Electives. Fellows in their third year should enroll in electives covering criminal law, criminal procedure, and criminal justice topics.  (Remember, in order to graduate as a Fellow, Fellows must complete 18 units of criminal law courses, including 12 units of criminal law electives.  Fellows are given priority registration for such electives.) Fellows are especially encouraged to enroll in Adjudicatory Criminal Procedure if they have not already done so. This course covers constitutional rules of criminal procedure that apply from the bail hearing to the end of the criminal trial, including right to counsel, ineffective assistance, jury selection, rights at trial, sentencing, and many other topics that are critical to criminal practice and that are heavily bar-tested.

Fellow Events. 3L Fellows should attend all scheduled Criminal Law Fellow events, including all lunch panel discussions with criminal law practitioners.

Career Planning. Those who have not yet arranged post-graduate employment should meet with the Directors to develop a plan for doing so.  They should also meet with the Director of Career Services.   

Bar Preparation. All Fellows must commit to aggressive preparation for the bar examination, making full use of all the resources the Law School offers for this purpose.  It goes without saying that Fellows must succeed on the bar examination in order to utilize the skills, knowledge, and networks they have developed as Fellows, and to pursue their passion for the criminal practice.

Graduation Memorandum. In the Spring semester, 3L Fellows must submit a Graduation Memorandum, as described above, in the section on Program Requirements.

Third Summer

What to Focus On

  • Single-Minded Focus on Passing the Bar Exam

 

What to Do

Bar Preparation.  Fellows who have graduated should devote all their attention to passing the bar examination. They should enroll in a commercial bar preparation course.  They should not work until after they have completed the bar examination. 

Along the Way

One-Unit Fellows Course.  All Fellows must complete, prior to graduation, a one-unit, one-weekend Criminal Law Fellows-only course.  These courses are offered at least once every year.

Center Certification. Fellows should also consider pursuing a certificate from the Center for Criminal Law and Policy.  More information about the Center and its certificate program is available on the Center’s homepage.


FELLOW GOALS

As a Fellow in the Criminal Law Fellowship Program, you should aim to achieve several goals that will prepare you to enter criminal practice with confidence.  Below, we suggest some of the most important goals you should pursue during your time in the Program, and some of the ways the Program can support you as you work to achieve them.

  1. Knowledge of Substantive Law Relevant to Criminal Practice.
    a. Goal.  By the time you complete the Program, you should aim to be able to understand the substantive doctrine and theory relevant to criminal practice, including criminal law and criminal procedure.  You should be able to identify legal rules, concepts, and theories arising in these areas, and to effectively apply the substantive law in these areas to factual situations.
    b. Program Support.  Fellows study this doctrine and theory in required and elective courses offered in the J.D. program, as well as in occasional courses offered through the Fellow Program.  The Program requires Fellows to complete at least eighteen units of study in these areas as condition for completion of the Program.
  2. Development of Practical Skills Relevant to Criminal Practice.
    a. Goal.  Fellows should strive to develop practical skills relevant to Criminal Practice, including legal analysis, research, drafting, pre-trial practice, trial practice, and post-conviction practice in the criminal context. 
    b. Program Support.  Fellows may be introduced to and develop these skills in (i) their first-year legal writing course, (ii) required criminal practice experiences (externship, internship, or other equivalent), (iii) elective courses developing such skills (such as criminal practice oriented trial practice and motion drafting courses) which may be taken to satisfy the Program’s criminal law study unit requirement, and (iv) a required one-unit Fellow course introducing and developing such skills.   
  3. Development of Professional Interpersonal Skills Useful In Criminal Practice.
    a. Goal.  Fellows should invest in developing professional interpersonal skills useful in criminal practice, including networking; forming peer, mentoring and counseling relationships; and communicating effectively about criminal law, policy, and practice.
    b. Program Support.   Fellows are required to participate in Program events involving practicing attorneys throughout their time in the Program. We encourage Fellows to interact with these practicing attorneys in ways conducive to networking, formation of peer, mentoring and counseling relationships, and effective communication about criminal law, policy, and practice.  Where appropriate, we will provide advice, feedback, and other support in these areas.   
  4. Knowledge About The Scope and Diversity of Criminal Practice.
    a. Goal. Fellows should aim to become familiar with the scope and diversity of forms of criminal practice and the requirements and expectations associated with these diverse forms.
    b. Program Support. Fellows are required to participate in programs involving practicing attorneys from diverse practice areas.  These attorneys will discuss their practice areas and describe the requirements and expectations associated with these areas.
  5. Knowledge About Managing A Criminal Practice Office.
    a. Goal. Fellows should aim to become familiar with the challenges associated with opening and maintaining a criminal practice office and methods and strategies for doing so successfully.
    b. Program Support. Fellows are required to participate in programs involving practicing attorney managing criminal practice offices.  These attorneys will discuss the challenges faced opening and maintaining such offices and methods and strategies for doing so successfully.

THE FELLOW PROGRAM AND THE CENTER FOR CRIMINAL LAW AND POLICY

Thomas Jefferson also hosts The Center for Criminal Law and Policy, which presents criminal justice-related events and issues certificates to students who fulfill Center requirements.  The Fellow Program and the Center are separate entities, and Fellows are not required to complete the Center Certificate requirements.  However, Criminal Law Fellows can often satisfy the Center Certificate requirements relatively easily, so it is worth considering pursuing the Center Certificate as well, as another way to demonstrate passion for and commitment to criminal law.  You can find out more about the Center and its Certificate Program on the Center webpage.