The courses in Criminal Law and Criminal Procedure: Investigation are prerequisites to enrollment in the CDC. The Trial Advocacy and Evidence courses are also required but may be taken during Part I of the CDC (fall semester). Preference in the selection process will be given to candidates who have already completed or are currently taking the required courses at the time of their application. Students who commit to meet all the course prerequisites before Part I of the CDC begins are also given preference. Other important factors in the selection process include a demonstrated interest in criminal law litigation, and significant mock trial, moot court, or ADR experience

Each week, students participate in a two-hour seminar class that seeks to integrate legal theory with criminal defense practice. Among the topics covered in the seminar are interviewing and counseling clients, investigating the case and locating witnesses, awareness of the immigration and other collateral consequences of criminal convictions, advocating for pretrial release, conducting discovery, motion practice suppression hearings and plea negotiations. Student are introduced to important provisions of New York substantive criminal law and criminal procedure that govern misdemeanor prosecutions, and delve into challenging questions of criminal defense and prosecution ethics that they frequently encounter in their clinic experience. A case rounds model and a bi-weekly journal are incorporated so students have ample opportunity to reflect on their experiences in representing their clients and on their development as criminal defense attorneys. Students are also required to submit weekly time sheets documenting their activities at their placement site.

The seminar also includes intensive client interviewing, advocacy skills training sessions and plea negotiation simulations throughout the year that give students ample opportunity to develop the litigation and negotiation skills they need to effectively represent their clients in court.