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The Case of the Federal Defender's Advice

 David Abrams  
Product number:
10 pages
Product Type:
Workshop-Based Case Study
Educators / Non-Profits:


Your client, a 22-year-old community college student, has been accused of receipt and possession of child pornography. While files containing illegal images were found on his computer, your client insists that he was not responsible and did not know the material was there; he thinks perhaps that one of his roommates could have downloaded the material. If convicted, your client is looking at a minimum of five years in prison and a permanent designation as a federal felon and sex offender. How do you counsel him about a plea bargain offered by the U.S. Attorney's office? How do you explain his options clearly and coherently? What if he insists on bringing the case to trial?

Table of Contents

This problem set consists of three parts:

  • Part 1-The Problem presents the problem and describes the client and case against him
  • Part 2-The Relevant Law gives students an overview of the law relevant to the problem
  • Part 3-The Theory includes links to articles that ground students in theoretical points of view relevant to the problem

This product contains a zip file with all of the products listed above.

Learning Objectives

  • Begin to develop a systematic approach to problem solving when faced with an unresolved issue or new situation.
  • Discuss how lawyers should approach plea bargains and how they affect a criminal defense attorney’s practice.
  • Learn how to define a client's options in a systematic and coherent manner.
  • Discuss how to counsel a client when the options are limited, the consequences are dire, and there is an uncertain chance of exoneration.
  • Learn how to manage cases with upsetting or emotional facts dispassionately.

Subjects Covered

Criminal law, sentencing guidelines, plea bargains


Geographic: United States, New England

Industry: N/A

Event Year Begin: N/A

Hard Copy

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A teaching manual for this problem set will be available soon. If you would like to obtain a teaching manual or more information about the Problem Solving Workshop at Harvard Law School, contact the Case Studies Program at hlscasestudies@law.harvard.edu or +1-617-496-1316.

Additional Information

Conversation Starters: Case Studies for Curricular Reform

Suffolk Law Launches Problem Solving Workshop

The Problem Solving Workshop: A Video Introduction

Copyright Information

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