Lawyers taught ‘soul of criminal defense’ in institute at Mercer Law School

NCDC ParticipantsMACON – About 250 criminal defense lawyers from across the nation will participate in the 26th Annual Trial Practice Institute of the National Criminal Defense College at Mercer’s Walter F. George School of Law.

The institute, which started Sunday (June 13) and runs through June 26, is designed to enhance the trial-advocacy skills of criminal defense attorneys who largely represent the poor. Participants are divided into small groups according to trial experience, and topics such as client interviews, cross examination and closing arguments are covered in group exercises. Participants perform daily assignments under the supervision of members of NCDC’s nationally recognized faculty who donate their time and skills to the program. The institute’s second two-week session runs July 18 – 31.

The NCDC’s Trial Practice Institute is a pioneer of its kind in the United States, addressing the criminal representation of largely indigent clients who often cannot afford private counsel. Most of the institute’s participants are either employed by public defender offices or accept some indigent appointments from the courts.

“Representing indigent defendants is the soul of criminal defense,” said Deryl Dantzler, professor of law at Mercer Law School and dean of the NCDC.

“Someone has to care about the client and the humanity of the case.”

About Mercer Law School

Founded in 1873, the Mercer University Walter F. George School of Law is one of the oldest law schools in the United States and the first one in the state of Georgia accredited by the American Bar Association. Mercer Law School’s educational philosophy is based on a broadly shared commitment to prepare students for the high-quality, general practice of law in a day-to-day learning environment that is both strongly supportive and consistently professional. Its innovative Woodruff Curriculum – which focuses on ethics and practical skills amid small class sizes – earned the Gambrell Professionalism Award from the ABA for its “depth of excellence.” With an enrollment of about 430 students, Mercer Law School is nationally recognized for its exceptional programs in legal writing, moot court, public service, and ethics and professionalism. For more information about Mercer Law School, visit or call 478.301.5000.