Federal Defender Clinic Goals and Structure

The Federal Defender Clinic provides students with the opportunities to represent indigent clients in federal misdemeanor cases, draft legal memoranda, argue motions, and develop a working knowledge of criminal and sentencing statutes. Enrolled students will attend monthly Petty Offense Calendar before magistrate judges where they will be assigned cases, then hone their skills in client counseling, plea negotiation, case analysis, oral advocacy, litigation, and trial techniques.

This year-long Clinic has two components: a two-hour weekly seminar called Federal Pretrial/Trial Seminar and the Federal Defender Clinic. The seminar is held on the McGeorge campus while clinical work is conducted downtown at the Federal Defender’s Office and the Robert T. Matsui U.S. Courthouse. Court Appearances may occur on any day of the week, but are primarily Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday mornings. Students will handle caseloads in teams of two. The clinic is open only to graduating students.

Prerequisites for Enrollment

A written application is required for this Clinic.

To qualify for the Federal Defender Clinic students must enroll in both the Clinic and Seminar, must have completed Criminal Law and Evidence, and have either completed or be concurrently enrolled in Trial Advocacy and Criminal Procedure. This Clinic is limited to graduating students. .


Federal public defenders and adjunct professors Rachelle Barbour and Linda Allison. Both Professors Barbour and Allison have tried numerous federal cases to verdict and have argued cases before the Ninth Circuit. Professor Linda Allison will supervise the Clinic, with assistance from Professor Barbour. Contact information: Rachelle Barbour @ Rachelle_Barbour@fd.org.

Unit Credit and Limit on Enrollment

  • The Federal Defender Pretrial/Trial Seminar is a two-semester, four-unit (two units per semester) graded course.
  • The Federal Defender Clinic is a two-semester, six-unit (three units per semester) graded course, which requires a 150 hour commitment.
  • Enrollment in the Federal Defender Clinic/Seminar is limited to eight students.

Why This Clinic is Valuable

Indigent client representation is extremely rewarding. By the end of the year you will be a skilled practitioner with plenty of litigation experience under your belt. You will have the benefit of learning from very experienced federal public defenders, will argue against skilled federal prosecutors, and appear before federal judges.


Contact Melissa Brown, Director of Clinics