College of Law > Academics > Experiential Learning > Legal Clinics > Criminal Appeals

Criminal Appeals Clinic

​​Fall or spring semester: 3 credits

The Criminal Appeals Legal Clinic provides students with the opportunity to represent clients convicted of felony or misdemeanor offenses in front of the Illinois Appellate Court. Working under the supervision of attorneys from the Office of the State Appellate Defender ("OASD"), students will review the trial court record; confer with the clients; research the law to provide support for their theories; and draft and file briefs at the end of the semester. The classroom component of the clinic includes lectures on appellate procedure and roundtable discussions on students' progress throughout the semester.

While the Criminal Appeals Legal Clinic focuses in appellate law, it also provides insight into trial practice. Students review and analyze the procedures, motions and evidentiary rulings that took place in the trial court. The Criminal Appeals Legal Clinic's focus on research and writing is ideal for students seeking clerkships or wanting to develop persuasive writing skills. Beyond the invaluable experience gained by direct representation, students leave with a unique writing sample to submit to potential employers: an actual brief filed in a court of appeals. OASD has hired a number of former Criminal Appeals Clinic students - approximately 5 to date - including most recently, someone who was a student in the Clinic in the 2018-2019 academic year. This demonstrates the quality and depth of the work that students perform in the Clinic and the quality of the instruction they receive.

The Criminal Appeals Clinic is taught in a rotation by attorneys from the Office of the State Appellate Defender.

The Criminal Appeals Clinic also offers an additional semester of course work for students who have already completed one semester of the clinic. This course, the Advanced Criminal Appeals Clinic, will allow students to continue representing their appellate clients through the reply brief process and expand their knowledge base by working on additional criminal appeals. The Advanced Criminal Appeals Clinic also satisfied the advanced writing requirement.

"I was simultaneously taking LARC III while taking the Criminal Appeals Clinic, and in both classes, the focus was appellate writing. Being able to work on a real appellate brief while working on one during class helped me understand the intricacies of appellate writing. Additionally, the clinic carries real weight in its work and helped me really affirm my passion of criminal law. [My advice for future legal clinic students is] really dive into the material. These are real people that are affected, and their future is in your hand. Get creative with the issues that you can raise and understand the value of having your name on a real brief filed with the court."​ - Komal, Criminal Appeals Clinic Student

Clinic News and Recent Events

Two Advanced Criminal Appeals Clinic Alumni Win Appellate Case

Advanced Criminal Appeals Clinic Student Sydney Warda Presents Second Illinois Appellate Court Oral Argument

Advanced Criminal Appeals Students Conduct Oral Arguments before Illinois Appellate Court​​

Criminal Appeals Clinic Alumni, Scout Distefano, arguing case she carried with her from the Clinic to her new job with the Office of the State Appellate Defender

Course Information

Faculty: Gil Lenz, Maria Harrigan, Editha Rosario-Moore and Elizabeth Botti

Instruction: This course is a combination of lecture, in-class discussion, skills instruction, and client counseling.
Number of Students: Up to 8 per semester.
711 License: A 711 license is not required to participate in the Criminal Appeals Clinic.
Prerequisites: None.
Eligibility: Only rising 2L and 3L students are eligible to apply.