Criminal Defense & Advocacy Clinic

Criminal Defense & Advocacy Clinic
Criminal Defense & Advocacy Clinic Student Kathleen Justis ’19 (right) appearing with her client in Manhattan Criminal Court.

The Criminal Defense & Advocacy Clinic (CDAC), launched in 2017, seeks to cultivate best practices in representing clients in the criminal legal system, including a deep look at what is considered normal or acceptable criminal defense practice, particularly in misdemeanor courts. CDAC adds to a traditional defense clinical experience by specializing its representation, prioritizing criminal cases that involve or center on gender, with a significant number of clients who were arrested because of their involvement in the commercial sex industry.

Clinic students handle all aspects of the case including interviewing, conducting investigations, developing mitigation, coordinating resources and referrals, pre-trial motions, engaging in plea negotiations and advocating at trial and sentencing. Students have primary responsibility for the case and client communication and appear in court pursuant to a student practice order.

In its inaugural semester, the clinic handled 12 misdemeanor cases for prostitution-related offenses adjudicated in diversion courts, all but one of which resulted in a dismissal of the charges. Clients all identified as women and ranged in age from 19 to 56 years old. Over 90% were women of color.

In addition, using a relatively new provision of New York law, clinic students also prepare motions for post-conviction relief for clients who have experienced human trafficking and were compelled to engage in conduct that led to their own arrest and criminalization. Students work with clients to vacate prior convictions and clear criminal records.

Clinic participants develop mastery of criminal procedure law and process and explore larger questions involving gender justice in the criminal legal system. This experience allows students to engage in additional advocacy, including designing and leading legal trainings and Know Your Rights workshops for women incarcerated at Rikers Island.

CDAC students use the combination of experience and observation to determine the kind of lawyers they want to be. Clinic members learn to think about cases, and client needs, comprehensively, guided by problem-solving and consistent reflection. Through this practice, the clinic engages in critical analysis of the criminal legal system – its practices, larger trends and intentions, and efforts for reform.

For more information about the clinic and its work, please contact Professor Kate Mogulescu 718-780-0337 or

Click here for a full description of the Criminal Defense & Advocacy Clinic

  • Criminal Defense & Advocacy Clinic
  • Criminal Defense & Advocacy Clinic
  • Criminal Defense & Advocacy Clinic

CDAC students represent clients in court, draft clemency petitions, and engage in additional advocacy, such as lead legal training workshops for incarcerated women.

Have questions? We have answers.

Professor Kate Mogulescu, Director
111 Livingston Street
Brooklyn, NY
Phone: (718) 780-0337

Mailing Address:
Brooklyn Law School
Clinic Office
250 Joralemon Street
Brooklyn, NY 11201