Criminal Justice Externships

Criminal justice externships range from 3 to 12 credits and are supervised by Professor Krieger. As program credit increases, students receive increasingly realistic litigation experiences that engage more professional judgment and practice skills. As a result, higher-credit programs require more prerequisites and planning, as well as clearance from the Florida Bar. In order to earn full credit, students must fulfill the learning objectives and methods for each program, and this will require the student to affirmatively pursue the casework specified for each program.

Each program has a perspectives segment, including regular reporting and reflective writing, to inform your field work and enhance your learning. The perspectives component also increases with the credit awarded to the program. The Litigation (30-40 hours per week) programs may often result in trial or hearing experiences for students, but be aware that none of these programs is primarily a “trial practice” program because the actual practice of criminal prosecution or defense involves many other activities and legal skills.

Interested students should be aware that these externships, like the actual work of a prosecutor or public defender, involve a large amount of case processing, pleas negotiations, and the like. A student’s time is therefore not primarily spent in trials, and this reflects the reality of a prosecutor of defender in practice. Because these are high-credit programs, during the externship semester there is also a substantial amount of reporting (daily journal, monthly reports, etc.), and online discussion with other students.

Download this table for a summary of all the criminal justice externships, including prerequisites, programs available to 2L’s or rising 2L’s, duration and weekly hours required, and locations available.

Current students can find more information on the Criminal Externships here.

Criminal Litigation Skills

The Criminal Litigation Skills course is primarily for students preparing for a defense or prosecution externship, and provides training in the trial and pre-trial skills necessary to function as an effective prosecution or defense attorney. The course traces the criminal process from the time an accused is taken into custody or charged with a crime, through the determination of guilt and sentencing. Classes generally meet 3 hours per week during the term; the concluding mock trial meetings are 4 hours, usually in the evening.

State Court System Externships

In this program, students are placed in prosecution and public defense offices (including Regional Conflict Counsel in some locations) throughout Florida, and actively participate in the processing of cases in the criminal justice system. The 3-credit (maximum) clerking program may also be available at other locations throughout the United States, and students may identify an office interested in sponsoring their externship. Please contact Professor Krieger or Marianne Chan for details.

The State Court System externship is comprised of three distinct programs: Clerking, Certified Part-time, and Litigation. The programs differ in their credit awards, learning plans, time commitment, assigned responsibilities, and whether “CLI” certification is required or not, all explained below. Read the descriptions carefully to distinguish the differing credits, activities and responsibilities, eligibility, and prerequisites. All programs run for the full 13-week semester except as noted for some summer options.

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Clerking and Certified Part-time - State Prosecutor or Public Defender

Credits: 6 max (Certified), 3 max (Not Certified) 

All students will generally assist attorneys in their representation or prosecution of criminal defendants, and may conduct fact investigation, process discovery, interview clients or witnesses, research and draft memoranda or pleadings, and assist attorneys in court. Occasionally, appellate work is also included. In addition, students in the Certified program (i.e. working 20 or more hours per week and who have CLI status) may have the opportunity to advise clients, negotiate pleas, and appear on the record in limited motions, trials, or other courtroom activities (all based on student’s schedule and case availability). Students should generally schedule half-day or longer blocks of time for their site work; some morning hours are preferred.

Litigation - State Prosecutor or Public Defender

Credits: 12

Students are supervised in representation of the state or defense in criminal cases. Activities generally include witness or client interviewing, plea negotiation, motion practice, and hearings or trials as available. Interested students should be aware that these externships, like the actual work of a prosecutor or public defender, involve a large amount of case processing, plea negotiations, and the like. A student’s time is therefore not primarily spent in trials, and again reflects the reality of a prosecutor or defender in practice. The required perspectives segment of the Litigation program includes daily reflective journals, regular reports, web-based discussions based on review of the Criminal Practice Clinic materials, and other interaction with the faculty supervisor.

Additional Criminal Justice Externship Programs

Florida Regional Conflict Counsel

Credits: 4

Students will assist attorneys in their representation of indigent criminal defendants and will also observe a variety of court proceedings. Students will perform legal research and draft memoranda or motions, and may conduct fact investigation, process discovery, and interview clients or witnesses.

Innocence Project

Credits: 4

Students review prisoner requests and obtain and summarize scientific evidence. The major portion of time is spent analyzing and summarizing trial transcripts and recommending project action on assigned cases. Students may also draft motions that seek the testing of evidence and, if appropriate, the release of wrongly incarcerated inmates in Florida. Students work closely with project attorneys to create and implement a strategy for one or two primary assigned cases.

Students should be interested in innocence exonerations and committed to the purposes of the project. Students will submit a weekly summary journal of their work to the supervising faculty member, and provide monthly reports and evaluations of their experience. There may also be a short, experiential paper toward the end of the semester.

U.S. Attorney's Office

Credits: 3

The U.S. Attorney’s Office offers externs the opportunity to observe and assist federal prosecutors engaged in criminal, civil and appellate practice in the federal courts. Under the supervision of experienced trial lawyers, students assist in researching and resolving substantive legal issues arising in the context of federal prosecutions and, occasionally, civil practice. The program provides externs with an understanding of the federal judicial system, an opportunity to improve legal research and writing skills, and the opportunity to observe pretrial preparation and motion/trial practice.

Casework at most offices is primarily in criminal court. Depending on current cases, externship duties may include: observing hearings, trials and other public court proceedings; assisting attorneys in charging decisions by providing research and memoranda on legal issues (e.g. venue, affirmative defenses, suppression issues) that arise during the process of charging a criminal case; assisting attorneys in trial preparation by drafting motions in limine, responses to defense motions, jury instructions, and researching other legal issues that arise prior to and during the trial of a criminal or civil case; and, occasionally, drafting appellate briefs and responses to habeas petitions and other post-conviction requests for relief.