Prof. Amy Kimpel directs the Criminal Defense Clinic. She has a B.A. from Columbia University and a J.D. from NYU Law. Prior to joining the faculty at University of Alabama School of Law, Prof. Kimpel worked at Federal Defenders of San Diego, Inc., the Santa Clara County Office of the Public Defender, and the Judicial Council of California. She loves training future attorneys. Each year, she watches her clinic students master criminal practice and leave law school prepared to handle their own cases and change the criminal legal system for the better.
I learned that being aggressive does not mean channeling your inner Annalise Keating…it means fighting zealously for your client while staying true to yourself. When I watched my classmates I learned that we each had our own unique style. There is no “right” way to be an effective advocate. I don’t have to be dramatic or loud to get my point across. I can still be kind and reasonable and rip opposing counsel to shreds. – Brenita Softley ‘22
A clinic, and the Criminal Defense Clinic specifically, teaches you how to think strategically about cases. It is basically just game theory in real life scenarios. Honestly, it’s thrilling. – Reave Shewmake ‘21
I came away from every case I handled, from the simplest to the most complex, with insights that have shaped my understanding of what it means to be an effective and compassionate advocate, both for representing individual clients and for reforming the criminal legal system as a whole. – Tamara Imam ‘20
How many credits is the Clinic?
6 credits (2 for seminar and 4 for case work) there is also the option to take a second semester of case work for 4 credits.
Which students can participate in the Clinic?
The Clinic is open to 3L students, with a preference given to those who have taken Evidence and Criminal Procedure and who have a student practice card. Students are selected by lottery.
What are the goals of the Clinic experience?
The goals of the Criminal Defense Clinic are for students to be able to:
zealously, competently, and ethically represent clients in criminal cases; and think critically about the criminal legal system and their own practice.
What is the Clinic seminar like?
The seminar focuses on trial advocacy skills as well as client interviewing and counseling skills, with significant time devoted to simulation exercises.
What does the Clinic casework consist of?
Criminal Defense Clinic casework consists primarily of trial-level misdemeanor cases in Tuscaloosa County and nearby rural counties. The Clinic also handles a limited post-conviction caseload in both state and federal courts in Alabama. Students handle all aspects of case representation including client interviewing and counseling, plea negotiations, motion hearings, and trials.
What jobs have Clinic students obtained after graduation?
Alumni have obtained post-graduate employment at:
The Criminal Defense Clinic provides free legal assistance to people charged with low-level offenses in Tuscaloosa and neighboring counties.
To schedule an intake, call (205) 348-4960. After the intake, the Clinic will decide whether to take your case. Remember, there is no guarantee the Clinic will be able to take your case.
Here’s coverage of Criminal Defense Clinic client Justin Faircloth’s release from prison after the Clinic assisted him in securing medical parole:
Here’s coverage of a mock trial the Criminal Defense Clinic did at Northport Municipal Court:
The Capstone Lawyer, University of Alabama School of Law’s alumni publication also covered the Criminal Defense Clinic and how its operations were impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic: https://www.law.ua.edu/alumni/capstone-lawyer/capstone-lawyer-2020/#clinic
Clinic Director, Prof. Amy Kimpel is quoted in an article about Alabama’s expungement scheme: https://www.montgomeryadvertiser.com/story/news/local/2020/11/12/alabama-expungement-costly-time-consuming-process-legal-advice-clinic-helps/6218917002/