CRIMINAL DEFENSE CLINIC

The Criminal Defense Clinic provides law students the opportunity to represent indigent defendants charged with municipal, misdemeanor and felony offenses in Cleveland or McClain County. Each student handles a mixed caseload of felony, misdemeanor and municipal cases.  
 
Illegal drug use is one of the most serious problems facing the criminal justice system. Working with the Cleveland County Juvenile Drug Court program, students are part of a team that combines treatment, intensive supervision and creative sanctions to meet the challenges presented by youthful drug offenders. Our interns work closely with other members of the drug court team to help the clients battle drug addictions, avoid criminal records and reclaim their lives. This experience allows students to learn how their active participation can make a real difference in the quality of the client’s life. 
 
Student comments:
 
“Working at the legal clinic has been extremely rewarding. Every day, I learn something new. The clinic has given me the confidence I will need to successfully defend potential clients. Both of my supervising attorneys have their own methods of doing things. I like incorporating both of their methods in the cases I've worked. The clients are truly lucky to have the legal clinic represent them.”

“I cannot imagine going to work this summer or next year (hopefully) without getting some practical experience. I feel like I have learned a tremendous amount, and I actually feel like the clinic and my intern’s license helped me find a job for this summer. Although the legal experience has been amazingly worthwhile, I enjoy the people in the clinic most of all. I have loved having a family right in the law school this semester. It is such a great environment to be in, and I feel like whenever I am in Norman, the clinic staff would welcome me back. Looking back on the beginning of this semester (which literally could not have gone by any faster), I cannot believe how scared I was. Most things have become very routine and comfortable. I think I am the type that will probably always get nervous before a court appearance, but I am so excited with how my nerves have relaxed since January. Experience aside, I am thrilled with the confidence boost!”

“My semester in the clinic has been very rewarding. I have learned so much and what was fulfilling was the fact that my work has actually helped somebody. Usually the end result in law school is just a letter grade but the interaction in the clinic especially from the clients is rewarding enough.”

“It is amazing how much I feel I have learned already in the last six weeks, and I think most of that can be attributed to the way the clinic is run. I love that we are given some direction, because I think it is far too frustrating to be thrown into something with no guidance. However, I also love that we are left to decide the vast majority of actions on our own.”

“The clinic introduced me to family law and criminal law -- two areas in which I thought I would never practice. My intuition proved true for family law, which is too heart-wrenching. However, I discovered that in criminal law I could make a big difference in someone's life. Another plus is that, when one represents indigent clients, one does not have to bill the person who has received the legal services. These experiences and the example and mentoring of Keith Bystrom [former director] led me to be a public defender. I am an appellate defense counsel in the Oklahoma Indigent Defense System, which also fits my love of research and writing. I have never regretted that decision to become a public defender.”

Client comments:
 
“I was very pleased with my intern’s work. He always stayed in touch with me about my case and answered all the questions I asked regarding my case.”

“I felt very comfortable and at ease with my licensed legal interns because they explained everything and made sure I understood the legal aspects of the situation.”
“My overall experience with the representation I received from the OU Legal Clinic can only be described as outstanding. I would give the clinic my highest recommendations to anyone in need of legal counsel.”

“The legal system in our country has the reputation of being fair only to those who are well funded. If it were not for the services provided by the legal clinic, I seriously doubt the outcome would have been as positive. Not only did the clinic work hard in my behalf, they did so in a way that made me feel at ease and preserved my dignity.”