Criminal Defense Clinic

Professor Paul Cain, Clinical Professor

Register on MyNIU just as you do for other courses. After registering on MyNIU:

  • Complete a Clinic Information Form for scheduling purposes
  • Complete an application for a 711 License

See the Clinical Program website for instructions for completing both forms.

Credits and Grading 4 credits Pass/Fail
Max. Enrollment 8 students
Prerequisites Professional Responsibility (643) and Introduction to Lawyering Skills (720) (both may be taken concurrently with the Clinic)
Recommended Courses Criminal Procedure: Police Investigation (601), Criminal Procedure: Adjudication (602), Evidence (655), and Trial Advocacy (725)
711 Requirement Students must be eligible for an Illinois Supreme Court Rule 711 License, which requires completion of 45 credits and Dean’s approval. See the Clinical Program website for instructions for applying for a 711 License.
Orientation Requirement
  • Students must attend an orientation to the clinical program which is generally held on the Thursday or Friday of the week prior to the start of the semester.  You will be notified of the orientation date after registration.
  • Clinic orientation is not required for the Summer semester.
Seminar Class and Clinical Component
  • Seminar Class: 1 hour 50 minutes each week. Date/Time/Room will be announced the same as other classes. See Professor Cain for summer semester.
  • Clinical Component: In addition to the seminar class, students must spend 12 hours per week on case work.  Students must be present at the Zeke Giorgi Legal Clinic in Rockford a minimum of one full day per week for intakes, court appearances, client matters and meeting with clinical faculty.  See Professor Cain for summer semester.
Additional Clinic Hours Students must be available to work on behalf of clients at additional times to meet the total clinic hour requirement each week.  These hours may be completed from campus or elsewhere, and do not necessarily need to be at the Zeke Giorgi Legal Clinic.  You will be notified of your clinic hours shortly after registration.


Students in the Criminal Defense Clinic represent adults and juveniles charged with criminal offenses.  The offenses will typically be misdemeanor and major traffic offences but may include low level felony offenses.  Charges may include offenses such as battery, criminal damage to property, criminal trespass, disorderly conduct, driving under suspension, drug paraphernalia, DUI, no operator’s license, possession of a controlled substance, prostitution, resisting arrest, retail theft, solicitation, theft, obstruction of justice and uninsured motor vehicle.  

Representation is typically at the trial level, but may include appeals or post-conviction appeals.  Students will engage in interviewing, fact investigation, legal analysis, oral and written advocacy, negotiating and legal research. Students typically represent clients from the initial appearance or bond hearing through disposition.

The clinic’s representation approach is both client-centered and holistic with the focus being on assisting the client not only with the immediate criminal charge, but also with the underlying or collateral issues to the criminal charge.  Students will learn empathy and cultural awareness as well as being sensitive to ethical issues that may arise.  You will learn how substance abuse and mental health issues impact our clients and the criminal justice system as well as factors such as race.

Students may also advocate for systemic change.  In addition, students may represent adults who are seeking to be removed from the sex offender registry as the result of adjudications for sex offenses when they were juveniles.