Indigent Defense Clinic

The thrill of delivering your first opening statement.  The satisfaction of helping those in need.  The challenge of sharpening trial skills that will broaden your career.  All before you take the bar exam.

The Indigent Defense Clinic is a unique opportunity for third-year law students to represent clients charged with misdemeanors and low-level felonies in Hamilton County.  Clinic students begin the year with an intensive ten-day trial advocacy “boot camp.”  Basic trial skills are enhanced during weekly seminars.  From the initial client interview and case brainstorming to investigation and trial, Clinic students learn best practices in client-centered community defense. Every IDC student is employed usually before the start of the second semester, largely due to their experience in the clinic.

"The clinic was easily the best preparation I had in law school for public defense work. The collaborative, hands-on atmosphere forced me to think in ways that cannot be simulated in a law school classroom. When I reflect on law school, I first recall my days in the clinic -- speaking with community members, learning from public defenders, and advocating before various judges. I stepped into court a few weeks after the bar with confidence because I participated in IDC."

Max Londberg '23

The Clinic accepts eight students for the year-long program. All students must be certified as Gov. Bar Rule 2 Student Legal Interns by the Ohio Supreme Court. Participation is limited to students in their third year of law school.

The selection process begins in the spring of each year. Interested applicants must submit a letter of interest and resume, and complete an interview. 

Please contact Travis Dunningham, Director of the Indigent Defense Clinic and Attorney/ Director at the Law Office of the Hamilton County Public Defender, for further information.

Law Office of the Hamilton County Public Defender
230 E. Ninth St., 2nd Floor
Cincinnati, OH 45202
Direct 513.946.3832 Cell 561.707.1059

Since its inception in 2007, the Clinic has provided legal representation to nearly 500 indigent clients facing criminal charges.  From misdemeanor charges and probation violations to appellate advocacy and sentencing mitigation, students have won outstanding results for their clients.  The Clinic’s client-centered approach has led many people to specifically request representation from Clinic students.  The response of former students is similarly positive, with many students citing the Clinic as one of their best experiences in law school.

Originally created by the non-profit Ohio Justice & Policy Center and the private defense bar, the Clinic was designed and developed as a mechanism to improve the culture of indigent defense representation in Hamilton County by teaching evidence-based best practices around a model of client-centered advocacy.  Today, the Clinic is a cooperative effort of the UC College of Law, the Salmon P. Chase College of Law, the Hamilton County Public Defender’s Office and private local attorneys who have generously donated countless pro bono hours to training and supervising Clinic students.  In 2013, the Clinic permanently relocated to the Office of the Hamilton County Public Defender.