Federal Defense Clinic – 7572

In this clinical seminar, students assist in the defense of indigent persons charged with federal crimes, under the supervision of the Federal Defender for the District of Minnesota, assistant federal defenders, and Professor Reitz. This clinic is offered once each year, usually in the spring semester. 

Fieldwork includes assignments such as research and writing of Eighth Circuit appeal briefs, memoranda in support of or response to motions, and legal research on a wide variety of topics. When cases are available, students may also be given various second-chair assignments in the preparation for and conduct of court and jury trials. If consistent with assignment deadlines and with Coronavirus precautions, students are encouraged to observe hearings and other federal criminal court proceedings. Students are also encouraged to attend weekly Zoom office meetings held by the Federal Defenders Office which discuss important current topics, often with a judge or other invited guest.

Additional Commitments/ Requirements: In addition to regular Zoom conferences with Professor Reitz, students work about twelve hours per week on clinic assignments, for a total of approximately 150 fieldwork hours. Although most student fieldwork will be done remotely, with considerable flexibility as to days and times when the work is done, each student should arrange a regular weekly schedule, totaling at least ten weekday business hours, when they will be available for phone consultations with attorneys in the Federal Defenders Office. Students may select the time periods during the week which best fit their other commitments (fewer separate time periods and days are preferred) but must stick to their agreed phone-availability schedule unless modified with advance notice to the Office. These requirements serve to minimize delays in assignments of fieldwork and consultation with supervising attorneys.

After receiving notification from the Law School registrar of their enrollment, students will be contacted by Professor Reitz to discuss clinic procedures. Due to the very limited enrollment [four students] there may be a waiting list. Accordingly, students should only register if they are quite certain that: they wish to take the clinic; they have the required course pre-and co-requisites; and they will not have any major conflicts of interest (e.g., working for a prosecution office). If a student decides they need to withdraw, they should do so promptly and notify Professor Reitz, so that a wait-listed student may enroll.

NOTE: This course requires certification pursuant to the student practice rule and is open to JD students only.


JD only. Recommended LAW 6085 Criminal Procedure: Investigation.

Graduation Requirements
Experiential Learning
Subject Area
Criminal Justice *
Litigation, Alternative Dispute Resolution & Advocacy
Student Year
Upper Division
Grade base
A - F
Course type