Criminal Prosecution Field Placement
The Criminal Prosecution Field Placement is one of KU Law's oldest hands-on learning opportunities. It is also one of the few field placement programs in the nation that specializes in criminal prosecution. Students in the Criminal Prosecution Field Placement stand to gain a significant amount of courtroom experience. They work side by side with prosecutors in federal, state and local offices in virtually all phases of the criminal justice process. In addition to appearing regularly in court on behalf of the prosecution, interns work closely with law enforcement agencies to develop a case, draft court documents and prepare appeals.
Building confidence through the Criminal Prosecution Field Placement
Thomas ("T.C.") Penland, L’15
As an aspiring prosecutor, the Criminal Prosecution Field Placement program was one of the factors that drew T.C. Penland to KU Law. While many legal internships focus on developing research and writing skills, the Criminal Prosecution Field Placement offers courtroom experience as well.
“You’re writing responses to motions, researching the law, learning how to write in a persuasive, competent manner,” Penland said. “I was doing everything in front of a judge short of an actual jury trial.”
Penland recalls one case involving a man who took explicit photos of his mentally handicapped 14-year-old stepdaughter. The defendant argued that the photos were obtained unlawfully and could not be used against him. Penland wrote a response to the defendant’s motion to suppress the photos, and the judge ruled in his favor. “Without the pictures, there was no case,” Penland said. “I felt a lot of satisfaction from prevailing.”
After graduating from KU Law in 2015, Penland worked briefly with a civil litigation firm before he was hired as an assistant district attorney in the Wyandotte County District Attorney's Office, where he currently works. "The program gave me confidence in my legal research and writing and developed my oral argumentation skills,” he said. “After finishing the program, I don’t have a fear of researching, writing or stepping into the courtroom and presenting a case to a judge. That’s a big advantage.”
The Criminal Prosecution Field Placement is open to third-year law students during the academic year for both the fall and spring semesters. Students may also enroll in the summer program, in which second- and third-year students may be considered for placement.