Criminal Prosecution Externships

Explore criminal prosecution externships:

Fran Weiner and Courtney Hogg, Lecturers-in-Law (2 graded academic and 3 ungraded fieldwork credits)

Course Description
This externship is designed to immerse students in a local prosecutor’s office and to help them build concrete lawyering skills. In this externship the students will learn to evaluate cases, interview police and civilian witnesses, gather discovery, as well as present police and civilian testimony. The students will also learn about the unique role of the prosecutor in the criminal justice system. Their hands-on work with multiple cases will highlight the importance of exercising discretion and meeting all ethical obligations. 

This externship combines two fundamental learning components: fieldwork in either the New York County District Attorney’s Office (DANY) or the Kings County District Attorney’s Office (KCDA) and a weekly seminar, which will supplement the fieldwork. The seminar will examine the fieldwork through weekly case rounds in which the students will share observations, analyze issues, and solve problems. The seminar will be comprised of lectures, readings, court observations, discussions, and simulations so that each student can further develop their lawyering skills.

Requirements and Application Process
The course will be limited to 6-8 students and will be open to JD and LL.M. students. Preference may be given to students who have or will be taking Evidence.

To apply, please complete the externship application available through LawNet. The application period can be found on the Experiential Learning home page (https://law.columbia.edu/academics/experiential). Prospective applicants may be contacted for an interview once all applications have been submitted.

Any additional questions can be sent to Susan Kraham at [email protected].

Scott Kessler, Brenna Strype, and Jennifer Camillo, Lecturers-in-Law (2 ungraded academic and 2 ungraded fieldwork credits)

This externship is only offered in the Fall semester.

Course Description
This externship is a one-semester course in which students are able to work as assistant district attorneys and act as the lead prosecutor of misdemeanor domestic violence cases from case inception through to trial. Students chosen for the program will work in the new Family Justice Center, a unique facility where the efforts of civil services providers for domestic violence victims are coordinated with those of law enforcement officials. Students will have their own designated work spaces at the District Attorney’s Office located at the Family Justice Center and carry a caseload of about 15 to 20 cases. The seminar will prepare students for their fieldwork and explore topics related to domestic violence prosecution. Scott Kessler, who has a national reputation for leading one of the finest domestic violence prosecution bureaus in the country, will teach the seminar and oversee the field placements. Completion of this course will satisfy the prerequisite requirement for the L9172 Advanced Trial Practice course.

The Seminar
The seminar will introduce students to all aspects of the prosecution function: from investigation and charging decisions, through arraignment, plea bargaining, discovery, motions, trial and appeal. Seminar topics include trial practice and strategies employed in cases where the victim refuses to cooperate. In light of the high rate with which victims cease their cooperation with prosecutors, students are equipped with the methods they need to develop a case without the victim’s cooperation.

The seminar usually will meet on Monday from 6:20 to 8:10 p.m. at the Law School. The first few sessions may be longer so that students will be adequately prepared for their work at the Family Justice Center.

Fieldwork
The Domestic Violence Bureau offers a fieldwork opportunity, in which students are able to prosecute misdemeanor crimes on behalf of the State. Students will have the opportunity to apply law they learned in Criminal Law, Evidence, Criminal Adjudication, and other classes. Operating under an Appellate Division special practice order, each student will be responsible for about 15 to 20 active domestic violence criminal cases. Students will get the opportunity to argue pre-trial motions and take their cases to trial in a first-chair capacity. Students also will subpoena relevant evidence, draft complaints, prepare discovery materials, and negotiate pleas with defense counsel. They also will interview victims and meet with police, defense counsel, and judges, fighting for the right solution to cases that are fraught with consequences for the victims, defendants, and families. To the extent possible, matters of discretion (e.g. what to charge, what plea to offer, what evidence to subpoena) are left to the student’s judgment. Thus, each student is forced to grapple with the tough decisions inherent to domestic violence prosecutions. Students will spend at least 12 hours per week working at the Bureau and appearing on their cases in Queens Criminal Court (located next to the E and F subway stop in Kew Gardens, Queens).

In light of students’ high level of responsibility, Mr. Kessler will make sure that they receive attentive and accessible supervision at all times. Each student is assigned to a supervising ADA, with whom they will build a relationship over the course of a semester. In addition, the bureau chief/adjunct professor will be available to answer questions regarding procedure and logistics. Students will critically examine the ethical, strategic, and justice implications of their work with their supervisors and Mr. Kessler. When the students cases go to trial, if there is no disposition, the student performs the opening, all direct exams, all cross exams, and sums in front of a judge or a jury. There is a supervisor as a second seat to assist during the trial but the case is assigned to the student. In the past, many of the students have completed misdemeanor trials to verdict.

Requirements and Application Process
The course will be limited to 25 students and will be open to J.D. students who are U.S. citizens or U.S. permanent residents.

To apply, please complete the externship application available through LawNet. The application period can be found on the Experiential Learning home page (https://law.columbia.edu/academics/experiential). Prospective applicants may be contacted for an interview once all applications have been submitted.

Any additional questions can be sent to Susan Kraham at [email protected].

Michael Gerber and Shawn Crowley, Lecturers-in-Law (2 ungraded academic and 2 ungraded fieldwork credits)

This externship is only offered in the Fall semester.

Course Description
The Federal Prosecution Externship at the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York offers students the opportunity to learn about investigating and prosecuting federal criminal cases in United States District Court. Students will be placed in the Criminal Division of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, where they will work with Assistant United States Attorneys representing the federal government in a wide range of criminal prosecutions, including ones involving firearms, narcotics, fraud, immigration, child exploitation, public corruption, terrorism, and violent crimes. The externship will also consist of a weekly seminar taught by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Michael Gerber and Shawn Crowley.

Grading for the course will be credit/no credit.

The Seminar
The seminar will meet on Mondays at 5:30 p.m. at the U.S. Attorney’s Office located at One Saint Andrew’s Plaza in downtown Manhattan. It will provide an overview of the criminal justice system, from the investigation and decision to charge a case through trial and sentencing. It will also analyze the ethical issues that arise at every stage of a criminal prosecution. The seminar will consist not only of a discussion of practice and case law but will have a practical component in which students will learn through simulations and practice exercises.

Fieldwork at the U.S. Attorney’s Office
Students will be expected to work for at least 10 hours per week for 14 weeks. Each student will be assigned to work with one or more Assistant U.S. Attorneys and should anticipate assisting with all aspects of the prosecution of cases, including court proceedings, meetings with agents and victims, and attending proffer sessions with cooperating witnesses. Students should also expect to perform research and writing on legal issues as part of the work at the U.S. Attorney’s Office and report on their weekly activities to the instructors.

Requirements and Application Process
Enrollment will be limited to 10 students per semester. The course will only be open to J.D. students who are U.S. citizens or U.S. permanent residents. There will be a preference for 3Ls who have taken upper-level criminal law or procedure classes.

To apply, please complete the externship application available through LawNet. The application period can be found on the Experiential Learning home page (https://law.columbia.edu/academics/experiential). Prospective applicants may be contacted for an interview once all applications have been submitted.

Any additional questions can be sent to Susan Kraham at [email protected]

Nadia Shihata and Kristin Mace, Lecturers-in-Law (2 ungraded academic and 2 ungraded fieldwork credits)

This externship is only offered in the Spring semester.

Course Description
The Federal Prosecution Externship offers students the opportunity to work one-on-one with experienced Assistant U.S. Attorneys in the Eastern District of New York as they investigate and prosecute violations of federal criminal law. Each student will be assigned to work directly with an experienced Assistant U.S. Attorney in one of the Office’s five senior prosecutorial sections: the Business and Securities Fraud Section, Narcotics Section, Organized Crime and Gangs Section, Public Integrity Section, and National Security and Cybercrime Section. Students will be expected to work 12 to 15 hours per work for 14 weeks (one semester) at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in downtown Brooklyn. Students will have the opportunity to take part in all aspects of their supervising AUSA’s criminal caseload—from investigation to sentencing and post-conviction appeal—and should also expect to do substantial research and writing. Under the local rules of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York, law students will be permitted to conduct court appearances, such as arraignments, guilty plea proceedings, sentencings, hearings, and trials. A weekly seminar will examine the role of Assistant U.S. Attorneys in each phase of the federal criminal justice system, including investigations, arrests, arraignments, pretrial suppression hearings, plea negotiations, and sentencing. In addition, students will participate in practicums that build upon their experiences working on actual federal criminal matters, including a mock arraignment and moot oral argument on a suppression motion.

Evaluation
Grading is credit/fail.

Method of Evaluation: Papers, class attendance/participation, and preparedness for in-class practical exercises.

Requirements and Application Process
To apply, please complete the externship application available through LawNet. The application period can be found on the Experiential Learning home page (https://law.columbia.edu/academics/experiential). Prospective applicants may be contacted for an interview once all applications have been submitted.

Any additional questions can be sent to Susan Kraham at [email protected].

Ari Fontecchio, Jason Gould, and Desiree Latzer, Lecturers-in-Law (2 ungraded academic and 3 ungraded fieldwork credits)

Course Description
The United States Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey (USAO-DNJ) is the eighth-largest U.S. Attorney’s Office in the country. Over the past two years, under U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito, the Office has grown from about 130 AUSAs to about 170 AUSAs.  The number of prosecutions have increased from about 460 per year to about 900 per year.  The size, as well as the number, of investigations has increased as well. Before each semester begins, the Executive Assistant U.S. Attorney will canvass the Criminal Division supervisors to find large and complex investigations, or cases that are getting ready for trial, at the USAO-DNJ. Each extern will be assigned to one of these large investigations. The extern will work extremely closely with the AUSAs who are assigned to that investigation.

The Seminar
The central goal of the seminars will be to provide students with a practical, nuts-and-bolts view of federal criminal practice at a United States Attorney’s Office. Each week’s lesson plan will cover one aspect of federal criminal practice, and will be tied to the substantive work that the externs are doing. Instructors will be using the real-world experience that students are gaining in their substantive assignments to work through various parts of the federal criminal process.

Fieldwork at the U.S. Attorney’s Office
Students will be expected to work at the USAO-DNJ for approximately 12-16 hours per week and to be full members of the prosecution team for their investigations. The extern will sit outside the offices of the AUSAs, and will be expected to do real, substantive work – the exact same type of work that an AUSA does. They will be provided with all of the relevant background materials (prosecution memo, charging document, order of proof, etc.) and will meet with the entire prosecution team (AUSAs, federal law enforcement agents, paralegals, and supervisor) on their first day to get up to speed on the investigation. Among other things, the externs will be expected to: draft process (search warrant affidavits, pen registers, complaints); review evidence; create buckets of hot documents; create orders of proof; draft direct examinations; and prepare materials for cross examinations, among other things.

Requirements and Application Process
The course will be limited to students who are U.S. citizens and must have lived here for 3 out of the last 5 years. There are no prerequisites to take this course. 

To apply, please complete the externship application available through LawNet. The application period can be found on the Experiential Learning home page (https://law.columbia.edu/academics/experiential). Prospective applicants may be contacted for an interview once all applications have been submitted.

Any additional questions can be sent to Susan Kraham at [email protected]