Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem Community Defense Externship - Full Year Course - Fall Only
Matthew Knecht and Seth Steed, Lecturers-in-Law (4 graded academic and 4 ungraded fieldwork credits)
The Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem Community Defense Externship offers students the opportunity to learn about the practice of indigent criminal defense in a community-based setting. Students will learn about aspects of criminal law and procedure related to the movement of a case through the court system and the practical and ethical considerations related to client interviewing and the forming of the attorney-client relationship. They will also engage in critical thought about topics related to criminal defense, including discovery and motion practice, investigations, developing a theory of the case, suppression hearings, disposition advocacy, and trial preparation.
The Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem Community Defense Externship is a year-long externship, and consists of a weekly seminar and a placement at the Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem (NDS). During the field placement, the students will be responsible for all aspects of at least one misdemeanor case, beginning with the client interview and arraignment at New York County Criminal Court. Students will also be matched one-to- one with NDS Staff Attorneys and will spend the year assisting their attorneys in all aspects of their cases, including writing and researching motions, investigations, social service and mitigation work, plea bargaining, and preparing for pre-trial hearings, trials, and sentencing.
The seminar will meet once a week for two hours at the law school. It will provide an in-depth examination of indigent defense generally, and holistic representation as practiced at NDS, specifically. The seminar will also focus heavily on the nuts and bolts of representing the accused in New York County courts.
For the practicum, students will be assigned to work with NDS Staff Attorneys. Each student will be expected to work at least 10 hours per week as part of the fieldwork component, at the NDS office at 317 Lenox Avenue [near 125th Street stops on the 2&3 and 4&5 subway stops] or in the field. Fieldwork may include, but is not limited to, attendance in court, visiting clients in their homes and/or visiting clients in jails. Students should expect to assist with all aspects of pretrial preparation of cases, as well as be involved in all aspects of litigation should their case proceed to pretrial hearings and/or trial. Students should also expect to perform substantial research and writing as part of the work. Students who are assigned primary responsibility for a substantial piece of written work in connection with their casework may be eligible to receive minor writing credit.
Students should plan to avoid permanent scheduling commitments on Fridays, as to ensure adequate time for fieldwork. Occasional Friday commitments are permissible.
Requirements and Application Process
There are no prerequisites for this course but preference will be given to students who have taken Evidence and Criminal Procedure. Students who wish to take a Trial Practice course are encouraged to take Advanced Trial Practice after this externship or concurrently with it in the spring semester.
To apply, please complete the externship application available through LawNet. The application period is from April 9, 2019 (3PM) to April 17, 2019 (5PM). 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].