THE UNIVERSITY OF AKRON SCHOOL OF LAW

CRIMINAL LAW


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If you are interested in criminal law, Akron Law can prepare you for a career through our course offerings, skills training, and hands-on experience. Many of our expert professors have actual work experience in the field of criminal law. Not only is criminal law one of our areas of strength, but we constantly seek ways to promote justice, protect individual liberties, and enhance the rule of law. In fact, through our renowned and highly ranked Re-entry Clinic you can start getting involved in criminal law service during your first week of law school. In 2016, one national publication ranked us in the Top 10 in the nation for preparing students seeking a career as a prosecutor or public defender.

The strength of our program is reflected, as well, in the numbers of our graduates who practice in the field. Many of our graduates work as prosecutors, criminal defense attorneys, public defenders, and judges (over 200 judges in fact!). We also have alumni working in the areas of juvenile justice and criminal justice policy. 

Distinguish yourself at Akron Law by taking advantage of our criminal law program and related trial advocacy offerings. Our advocacy and trial programs are unparalleled. In fact, our elite trial team program has scored multiple national championships over the past decade. You can join our trial team or moot court programs to develop skills applicable to a criminal law practice. Volunteer opportunities abound. We also have a certificate in litigation designed to boost your profile.

Students can also intensively try mock criminal cases as part of our Summer Trial Academy with the guidance and assistance of prominent attorneys, judges, and professors. As a student attorney, you have the opportunity to learn the techniques associated with juror selection, open and closing statements, direct and cross-examination, and the other techniques employed by criminal attorneys. Learn more and hear directly from the participants, attorneys, professors, and judges who participated in the innovative Summer Trial Academy here.


Criminal law experts

Martin H. Belsky | Bio began his career in 1969 as a prosecutor, and then chief prosecutor in Philadelphia. Professor Belsky has served as board member and committee chair of many government advisory councils and civic and charitable organizations, including bar associations in Philadelphia, New York and Oklahoma; New York Judicial Commission (referee); Oklahoma Humanities Council; the American Law Institute; and the Child Abuse Network. He has also chaired and served on many commissions, including ones on criminal justice.

Dana K. Cole | Bio teaches Criminal Law, Evidence, and Trial Advocacy. He serves on the board of directors and is also a faculty member at Gerry Spence's Trial Lawyer's College in Jackson, Wyo. Additionally, Professor Cole serves on the faculty of the Ohio CLE Institute, and is a Teaching Team Member for Harvard Law School's Winter Trial Advocacy Workshop. He is an active member of the Association of Trial Lawyers of America and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.

William D. Rich | Bio teaches in the criminal law realm. He previously co-taught a course on AIDS and the Law. He serves as Chairman of the University’s Faculty Senate and as a member of the Board of Trustees of the Akron-Summit County Public Library. Before joining the faculty, he was a staff attorney at the National Center for State Courts in Williamsburg, Va., where he directed a research project on the impact of sentencing guidelines on sentencing and plea bargaining practices

Joann Sahl | Bio is the assistant director of the legal clinic. She supervises the Litigation Clinic and the Reentry Clinics. She is also the Pro Bono Coordinator at The University of Akron School of Law. Professor Sahl also serves as the site supervisor for the statewide Law and Leadership Institute. Prior to joining Akron Law, she served as a staff attorney in the housing unit of Community Legal Aid Services, Inc. in Akron, Ohio from 1999-2008. In that role she represented clients in expungement cases. Before that, Professor Sahl served as assistant state public defender at the Ohio Public Defender Commission, eventually rising to chief appellate counsel and supervisor of the Death Penalty section where she successfully argued before the USSCT in Ohio v. Huertas, 498 US 336 (1991).

Matthew J. Wilson | Bio is the President of the University of Akron and the former Dean of the School of Law. As a litigator and educator, his research interests and activities include comparative criminal law, jury trials, and trial advocacy. President Wilson has lived in Asia for over a decade. During his most recent stint in Tokyo, President Wilson was appointed by the Japan Federation of Bar Associations to serve on its Jury Trial Advocacy Project Team (2005-2009) in conjunction with the adoption of quasi-criminal jury trials in Japan. In this capacity, he assisted in the training of Japan’s criminal defense bar with respect to criminal trial advocacy techniques. He is a co-author of the first book ever published in Japanese about trial advocacy techniques.  


Criminal law courses

At Akron Law, we will expose you to a host of general courses relevant to a criminal law practice, as well as various specialty courses and clinical opportunities. These include:

Clinics

  • Criminal Law Expungement Clinic (Trains law students on expunge­ment law and processes so that they may assist citizens of Ohio who wish to have their records sealed.)
  • Public External Placement Clinic (Places Akron Law students with local prosecutors, public defenders, legal aid organizations and with super­vising attorneys in other nonprofit or government agencies or organizations.)
  • Trial Litigation Clinic (Exposes students to all stages of in-court client representation in misdemeanor cases. Students learn how to prepare for litigation and manage a caseload just as they will in practice.)
  • Judicial Placement Clinic (Students perform research for judges and assist with the work of the court.)

Courses

  • Administration of Criminal Justice
  • Appellate Advocacy
  • Criminal Law
  • Expert Evidence
  • Evidence
  • Federal Jurisdiction and Procedure
  • Juvenile Law
  • Trial Advocacy I
  • Trial Advocacy II
  • Independent Study (criminal law topic)