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Public defender argues at the podium

Areas of Study

Criminal law

Criminal Law and Procedure

If you want to pursue a career as a prosecutor or public defender, an attorney in a state or federal agency, or a private defense attorney you need a strong foundation in criminal law and procedure. And, now more than ever, you need to understand the systemic issues facing the criminal justice system, such as mass incarceration, sentencing, policing, drug policy and implicit bias.

St. Thomas Law will prepare you for these challenges and give you an opportunity to start making an impact while you are in law school.

Experiential learning opportunities, such as an externship or legal clinic, will help you expand your abilities and apply what you are learning in the classroom. Co-curricular activities like our moot court or trial advocacy competition teams will enhance your written and oral advocacy skills.

Our mentor program will pair you with a judge, prosecutor or defense attorney to help you gain experience and develop relationships in this area of the law.

A highlight of our program is our location. St. Thomas School of Law is located in downtown Minneapolis near county and federal courts and major law firms.


Admissions Office

Phone Number
(651) 962-4895

Featured Faculty

Mark Osler headshot

Mark Osler

Professor Osler is a former federal prosecutor who helped change the federal sentencing guidelines surrounding crack and powder cocaine. He teaches 1L Criminal Law and leads St. Thomas Law's Federal Commutations clinic. His research focuses on sentencing and clemency policies.
More about Mark Osler
Rachel Moran headshot

Rachel Moran

Prior to teaching, Professor Moran worked at a criminal defense firm and in the Office of the Illinois State Appellate Defender, where she argued before the Illinois Supreme Court. She now leads the Criminal and Juvenile Defense clinic. Her research focuses on police accountability and reform.
More about Rachel Moran
Julie Jonas headshot

Julie Jonas

As the Legal Director for the Great North Innocence Project, Professor Jonas successfully worked to secure the release of seven men who were incarcerated for crimes they did not commit. She has also been instrumental in the passage of several of Minnesota’s law related to wrongful convictions.
More about Julie Jonas

Course List

Below are examples of some of the courses offered at St. Thomas Law for students interested in pursuing a career in criminal law.
  • Advanced Evidence
  • Child Abuse and the Law
  • Client Interviewing and Counseling
  • Controversies in Policing
  • Criminal Law
  • Criminal Practice
  • Criminal Procedure I: Investigation and Pre-Trial
  • Criminal Procedure II: Trial and Post-Trial
  • Domestic Violence
  • Evidence
  • Human Trafficking & Exploitation
  • Infamous Trials
  • Investigations
  • Negotiation
  • Restorative Justice, Law and Healing
  • Sentencing
  • Trial Advocacy
  • White Collar Crime and Compliance
  • Wrongful Convictions

Experiential Learning

Legal Externships

Accelerate your professional development and substantive understanding of criminal law and procedure in a legal externship.
Yastril Nanez judicial extern

Judicial Externship

Study the judicial process, learn about the role of judges and law clerks and see the impact lawyers have on the administration of justice.

Judicial Externship
Zachary Port headshot

Misdemeanor Defense Externship

Gain hands-on experience representing clients in the justice system and an understanding of the challenges faced by all the participants in that system.

Misdemeanor Defense Externship

Legal Clinics

Represent clients or engage in research-based advocacy working in one of our legal clinics.

Criminal and Juvenile Defense

Represent both children and adults accused of crimes in Hennepin County and the greater Twin Cities area.

Community Justice Project

Engage in intensive research into practical solutions to longstanding challenges in our communities.

Federal Commutations

Explore issues of commutation and assist individuals seeking a commutation of sentence.
Law Student with Judge who is her mentor

We Pair Each Student With A Mentor

Mentor externship program

Each law student is matched with a mentor, who complements their interests and professional goals—such as a career as a prosecutor, public defender or private defense attorney. Our mentors allow students to engage in legal work, professional networking and meaningful reflection.

Meet our Alumni

Lawyer Search is St. Thomas Law’s online directory of alumni. It is available to those with legal needs, for attorney networking and referrals and so current and prospective law students can meet attorneys working in their area of interest—like criminal law. Click below to connect with one of our alums!