Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law - Beus Center for Law and Society Snell & Wilmer Plaza

Public Defender Clinic

Under close attorney supervision, students who participate in the Public Defender Clinic represent indigent defendants in criminal cases in the Maricopa County Superior Court and Justice Courts. In the past, clinic students have represented clients charged with drug possession, aggravated assault, resisting arrest, promoting prison contraband, car theft and DUI, to name a few. Students interview clients and witnesses, draft motions, and handle preliminary hearings, plea proceedings, settlement conferences, sentencing, evidentiary hearings and jury trials. They receive regular feedback on their verbal and written work from adjunct professors, other experienced criminal defense attorneys, and sitting Superior Court judges.

In order to sharpen the requisite courtroom skills, students also take a mandatory clinic seminar in trial advocacy. The seminar teaches effective public speaking techniques generally and also provides specific training in all aspects of trials including opening statements, closing arguments, direct and cross-examination, and voir dire.

Four student working together in the Law Library.

Course information:

The Public Defender Clinic is a one-semester course.

  • Credits: six graded credits
  • Pre- or Co-Requisite(s): Civil Procedure, Criminal Law and Professional Responsibility
  • Evidence is a pre-requisite
  • Enrollment is limited to five students in the Fall/Spring and four students in the Summer
  • Second semester 2Ls and 3Ls are eligible to apply
  • For summer clinic only - Rising 2L's cannot apply 
  • Must be Rule 39 certified after acceptance to clinic.

Time commitment:

  • Summer: Full eight hour days, Monday through Friday required
  • Fall/Spring: Two eight hour days (Monday through Thursday) and half day on Friday required
  • Students must complete 270 hours during the semester, including class time (approx. 20 hours per week, 27 hours per week in summer)
  • Mandatory three days training prior to the start of classes in Fall and Spring


Student Applications Dates for Clinic:

Students may apply via Atlas during the application period listed below.

Spring 2024:
Applications: September 22 - October 22, 2023
Offers extended to students: October 27, 2023
Student acceptances due: October 31, 2023

Fall 2024: Application period: March 11-29, 2024 Offers extended to students: April 5, 2024 Student accept/decline due: April 11, 2024


**IMPORTANT!* - Externships and Clinics – Students who have applied for an externship or clinic and been accepted may decline upon offer without consequence. However, once a student has accepted an externship or clinic, any student who drops the externship or clinic without prior approval by the Associate Dean of Academic Affairs will be subject to the 12-month ban.

Our people

Ken Vick

Dan Lowrance

Faculty Associate

Ken Vick

Jeff Roth

Faculty Associate