Students interested in criminal law may engage directly in a wide range of specialized courses, and also have opportunities to engage in research, policy advocacy, and client representation. Research undertaken by CJP faculty and staff help to inform criminal law and policy at both the national and local levels. This research has several key areas of focus, including police brutality and accountability, criminal law and immigration enforcement, pretrial detention and bail policy, collateral consequences of criminal convictions, youth justice and the family regulation system, restorative and transformative justice, and alternatives to policing and prosecution.
Faculty affiliated with UCLA Law’s Criminal Justice Program publish impactful scholarship on a wide range of issues, including qualified immunity, the criminalization of immigration, the collateral consequences of criminal convictions, comparative criminal law, fines and fees in the criminal system, Fourth Amendment law, policing, the impact of racial bias on charging and sentencing decisions, plea bargaining, juvenile justice, prison conditions, and much more.
UCLA Law offers a full menu of criminal law courses. In addition to the required introductory criminal law class, students have the opportunity to take core advanced courses like Evidence, Criminal Procedure—Investigations, and Criminal Procedure—Adjudications. UCLA Law also offers numerous courses in international and comparative criminal law, including Global Perspectives on Criminal Procedure and International and Transnational Criminal Justice. There are also many specialty seminars to choose from, including:
- Current Topics in Criminal Law
- Sentencing Law and Policy
- Suing the Police
- Re-envisioning the Lawyer’s Role: Trauma Informed Lawyering and Restorative/Transformative Justice.
UCLA Law also offers numerous experiential courses for students interested in criminal practice. Courses such as Criminal Trial Advocacy and Advanced Criminal Trial Advocacy teach valuable courtroom advocacy skills. In addition, students may represent clients under the supervision of experienced faculty in the following experiential courses:
- Ninth Circuit Appellate Advocacy (Prisoner’s Rights)
- Criminal Defense Clinic
- Supreme Court Clinic
- Community Lawyering in Education
- Pay or Stay Bail Practicum
- Veterans Justice Clinic: Poverty, Homelessness & Criminalization
Students can also take advantage of a variety of criminal law related externships, including:
- Federal Public Defender’s Non-Capital Habeas Unit
- Los Angeles Public Defender and Alternate Public Defender (as well as various other public defender’s offices across the country)
- Los Angeles City Attorney and District Attorney’s offices (as well as various other prosecutor’s offices across the country
- US Attorney’s Office
Empowering Communities with Information
Advancing policy change and transformation in the criminal legal system.
Supporting the transformation of the juvenile legal and child welfare/family policing systems.
Creating research and innovative solutions to issues surrounding pretrial incarceration.
The Criminal Justice Program's initiatives during the COVID-19 crisis.
Resources on fines and fees, and mental health.
A framework for sustainable change in jurisdictions that are investing in non-law enforcement responses.
Students learn how various communities are implementing the practices of restorative justice which views crime as a harm to individuals and society and focuses on repairing these harms through a cooperative process.
Who We Are
- Core Faculty and Staff
Norman AbramsDistinguished Professor of Law Emeritus
Acting Chancellor Emeritus
Charles T. AndersonLecturer in Law
Peter L. ArenellaProfessor of Law Emeritus
Stuart BannerNorman Abrams Distinguished Professor of Law
Paul BergmanProfessor of Law Emeritus
Devon W. CarbadoThe Honorable Harry Pregerson Professor of Law
George S. CardonaLecturer in Law
Beth A. ColganVice Dean of Faculty & Intellectual Life
Professor of Law
Kimberlé W. CrenshawDistinguished Professor of Law
Promise Institute Chair in Human Rights
Sharon DolovichProfessor of Law
Faculty Director, UCLA Prison Law & Policy Program
Director, UCLA Law COVID Behind Bars Data Project
Fanna GamalAssistant Professor of Law
Laura E. GómezProfessor of Law
Rachel F. Moran Endowed Chair in Law
Mark GreenbergMichael H. Schill Endowed Chair in Law and Professor of Philosophy
Peter JohnsonLecturer in Law
Máximo LangerDavid G. Price and Dallas P. Price Professor of Law
Director of the UCLA Transnational Program on Criminal Justice
Aaron LittmanAssistant Professor of Law
Herbert MorrisProfessor of Philosophy and Professor of Law Emeritus
Sunita PatelAssistant Professor of Law
Faculty Director, UCLA Veterans Legal Clinic
Joanna C. SchwartzProfessor of Law
Lara StempleAssistant Dean for Graduate Studies and International Student Programs
Sherod ThaxtonProfessor of Law
Faculty Director, David J. Epstein Program in Public Interest Law and Policy
Eugene VolokhGary T. Schwartz Distinguished Professor of Law
Criminal Justice Law Review Annual Symposium
This year’s symposium is “Guns Everywhere: Individual Rights and Communal Harms after NYSRPA v. Bruen” and is co-sponsored by the Giffords Law Center
Connecting Art & Law for Liberation
The first Connecting Art and Law for Liberation (CALL) Festival took place on April 12-14, 2019 and brought together visionary artists, activists, attorneys, advocates and legal scholars to share innovative, cutting-edge collaborations at the intersection of art and law. We committed to hosting this festival every other year and 2021’s festival took place over zoom and was “A CALL to Imagine Abolitionist Futures.” For more information visit the CALL Festival website.
Student-Led Membership Organizations
The UCLA Law Students for Decarceration (LSFD) is a student-led group that fosters an inclusive forum for UCLA Law students to contribute to advancing justice within the criminal law system. LSFD seeks to promote criminal law dialogue, practice, reform, policy, and scholarship related to decarceration. LSFD promotes inclusive and diverse participation in a critical examination of the criminal legal system.
Child and Youth Advocates (CYA) is a student-led group to provide UCLA Law students with opportunities to learn about the many sub-disciplines of child and youth law, including child welfare, family law, juvenile justice, education, and crimes against children. CYA enables students to connect with organizations providing legal services to children, learn from invited speakers and panelists, and participate in community service with local youth-serving organizations. They aim to inform members about legal issues affecting children and youth and support their endeavors in the field.
Bruin Underground Scholars supports the academic experiences of students that identify as formerly incarcerated and/or system impacted. Bruin Underground Scholars understands that UCLA Law’s students come from a plethora of walks and honors the lived experiences of those that have dealt with the direct and indirect experiences of the carceral system.
UCLA School of Law hosts a student-run journal that focuses on current topics in criminal law and policy, the Criminal Justice Law Review (CJLR). CJLR seeks to develop a discourse regarding criminal justice by publishing articles, editorials, and interviews of practitioners, academics, and policymakers. CJLR also aims to foster a community by hosting an annual symposium for students, academics, practitioners, policymakers, and judges to come together to discuss current criminal justice issues.
Student-Led Volunteer Opportunities
El Centro’s Reentry Legal Clinic is a volunteer clinic that trains students to prepare expungement petitions in partnership with the Los Angeles-based nonprofit organization A New Way of Life.
Students interested in criminal law careers should consult the following job guides as well as take advantage of the career counseling available through the Office of Public Interest Programs and Office of Career Services.
There are many opportunities for students to become involved in local organizations working on criminal law related issues in Los Angeles. Here is just a small selection:
- American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California’s Criminal Justice and Drug Policy Reform Team—a project committed to helping re-envision a criminal justice approach that is fair and free of racial bias, keeps communities safe and respects the dignity and rights of all who come into contact with it.
- A New Way of Life Reentry Project—an organization that provides housing, case management, pro bono legal services, advocacy, and leadership development for people rebuilding their lives after incarceration.
- Anti-Recidivism Coalition—an organization that works to end mass incarceration in California by providing a support network, comprehensive reentry services, and opportunities to advocate for policy change.
- California System-Involved Bar Association—an organization whose mission is to diversity California’s legal profession by increasing access to legal education and State Bar of California licensure for people with prior criminal justice system involvement.
- DA Accountability Coalition—a coalition of local justice reform organizations, advocates, artists, organizers, and people who have been directly impacted by the criminal legal system promoting greater accountability within the Los Angeles DA’s office.
- Drug Policy Alliance—an organization committed to promoting alternatives to the war on drugs. They envision a just society in which the use and regulation of drugs are grounded in science, compassion, health, and human rights.
- Justice LA—a coalition that works to reduce the footprint of incarceration by stopping jail expansion and reclaiming, reimagining and reinvesting dollars away from incarceration and into community-based systems of care.
- Los Angeles Youth Uprising Coalition—a coalition that builds power through youth leadership, direct action organizing and policy advocacy to dismantle the racist juvenile justice system and divert its resources towards holistic models of youth development that ensure LA youth rise and thrive.
- Reimagine Child Safety Coalition—a Los Angeles County-based group of advocates, organizations and impacted families united against the child welfare/family regulation system
- Stop LAPD Spying—a community group building power toward abolition of the police state.