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A student examining a witness in the moot court

In our LL.M. degree program, the first semester provides students with the substantive knowledge and trial skills training they need to be successful in federal court. During the second semester, students are placed in a real-world environment to practice federal criminal defense under the supervision of experienced federal defenders. During clinical placement, students have the opportunity to work alongside federal defenders, assist in the defense of people charged with federal crimes, and attend federal defender training programs.

Using the program’s extensive contacts and record of accomplishment, clinical placements can be arranged at most federal defenders' offices. Some students complete their internships in San Diego at Federal Defenders of San Diego, but many students choose to go to other parts of the country. We have relationships with federal defenders' offices across the United States and have placed students in a variety of locations including San Diego, Washington, D.C., Chicago, Los Angeles, Dallas, Las Vegas, Miami, Seattle, and San Juan, Puerto Rico. The faculty closely monitor clinical placement to insure the best experience possible for the students through journals and site visits. Our graduates tell us that the LL.M. program gave them the skills needed to complete any assignment given to them by their supervising attorneys.

At the end of the clinical internship, students return to San Diego to attend the week-long Federal CJA Trial Skills Academy in San Diego. Normally, only current federal defenders may participate in this program. Through our relationship with the federal defenders, we are able to make this opportunity available to our LL.M. degree students. Students attend lectures on the latest developments in federal criminal defense law and receive personalized instruction from some of the nation’s leading defense attorneys.

In the end, students gain courtroom litigation experience and skills that are attractive to defenders' offices and private law firms. Students have the opportunity for extensive client contact through client interviews and appearances. Employers value our training, which is not typically offered through the usual J.D. coursework.