Student Opportunities

The Center for Capital Defense provides students with hands-on experience defending clients in death penalty cases. Students take part in preparing legal pleadings such as pretrial motions, habeas petitions, and appellate briefs. They also help develop facts through reviewing evidentiary documents, interviewing clients and witnesses, and working with experts. 

Our students have varied interests, and their viewpoints about the wisdom or morality of capital punishment may clash. Some aim for careers in criminal defense, while others anticipate a professional life in commercial litigation or business transactions. A few plan to serve the public interest as prosecutors. What they share is curiosity about this complex and interesting area of the law, and a fierce commitment to ensuring that no one is sent to death row who did not have a fair and vigorously contested trial. 

In our Center, students have direct and personal contact with our clients, as well as opportunities to work alongside co-counsel (sometimes from large law firms, sometimes from public defender agencies, sometimes in solo practice) and experts such as social workers, psychologists, forensic scientists, and more.


Courses in criminal law, constitutional criminal procedure, and legal ethics, while not prerequisites, are often of value to students who enroll in this Center.