June 04, 2024

New Public Defense Practicum Partnership with Metropolitan Public Defenders

Starting in the 2024-2025 academic year, Lewis & Clark Law School is partnering with Metropolitan Public Defenders to offer a year-long Public Defense Practicum, giving 2L and 3L students practical experience in public defense at a time when Oregon is facing a crisis-level shortage of public defenders.

Multnomah County Courthouse Multnomah County CourthouseLewis & Clark Law School is excited to announce a new partnership with Metropolitan Public Defenders (MPD) for the 2024-2025 academic year. This collaboration will offer rising second year students (2Ls) and third year students (3Ls) a unique opportunity to participate in a year-long public defense practicum that will allow them to gain invaluable courtroom and client-facing practical experience while also earning 10-12 academic credits (5-6 credits per semester).

The program is designed to train students in public defense in the face of a crisis-level shortage of public defenders.

In the Public Defense Practicum, students will work in a cohort of 8-12 peers under the close supervision of a dedicated attorney at MPD. The practicum will cover all stages of misdemeanor case representation. Students will engage in various legal activities, including interviewing and advising clients, investigating cases, drafting and arguing motions, negotiating case resolutions, participating in trials, and presenting at sentencing hearings. The supervising attorney will provide instruction and training in client counseling, case assessment, courtroom skills, and negotiations.

This hands-on experience is designed to prepare students for the challenges of a career in public defense. By working on actual misdemeanor cases, students will develop essential legal skills and gain valuable insights into the public defense system. The practicum also allows students to build professional relationships and receive mentorship from experienced public defenders.

Associate Dean John Parry noted, “we are incredibly excited that our students will be in court, representing people in criminal trials under the supervision of an MPD attorney. Many of these students will go on to careers in criminal law, and all of them will benefit from this deep immersion in criminal justice work.”

This practicum highlights Lewis & Clark Law School’s commitment to providing its students with practical, impactful experiential learning. The partnership with MPD not only enhances the curriculum but also supports the community by contributing to the defense of those in need.