The Catholic University of America

Virginia Criminal Defense Clinic

The Defense Clinic (spring only) is a four-credit, one-semester course that provides eligible third year students with a rigorous and intensive exposure to criminal defense practice through a combination of actual trial practice and classroom work. Students are assigned to work at the, Public Defenders Office in Arlington County, VA, where they represent individuals accused of crimes in district court.


After a short orientation, students are given a docket of cases for which they are responsible. Under the supervision of an assistant public defender, the students engage in plea bargain negotiations and criminal representation to the court. In addition, students have many opportunities to evaluate different styles of lawyering by watching criminal trial lawyers in action. To supplement and refine their practice experience, students attend a weekly class in which they discuss their pending cases, what they have encountered in court, as well as substantive trial practice issues. Students must be eligible for certification under the Virginia Third Year Student Rule.


 The Public Defender’s Office in Arlington County is Metro accessible.


Preference in allocation of spots for the defense clinic will be given as follows:


Students who applied before and were not accepted to the clinic.


Students who have not yet had a clinical experience.


By the date & time of submission of their application.

***When handing in your application it will be date & time stamped, admission will be in order of the date of submission of applications, be sure to turn them in as soon as possible.

Please note: Students generally are not permitted to complete an externship and a clinic within the same semester.


Please contact Professor Martin with any questions about external clinics at: