On Demand Audio

Introduction to Federal Sentencing Advocacy

(433 reviews)

Produced on September 07, 2017

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$ 59 Criminal, Litigation, and Public Interest In Stock
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Course Information

Time 1h
Difficulty Beginner
Topics covered in this course: Criminal Litigation Public Interest

Course Description

After a sentencing regime that, up until 1987, gave judges unlimited discretion, followed by almost two decades of mandatory federal sentencing guidelines, federal sentencing practice has evolved into a combination of detailed, legally interpreted guidelines and reasonably employed judicial discretion. This means that sentencing advocacy has become much more complex, but also much more interesting. This program focuses on how to expand the defense attorney’s creativity to marshal the expansive body of sentencing case law in our client’s favor, how to massage the guidelines by picking and choosing which ones you prefer, and how to show that your client’s conduct is different from the conduct the applicable guidelines were designed to address. The program will also teach practitioners how to mine the guidelines for language that is not directly applicable, but nonetheless analogous and thus persuasive.

This course will also discuss the different ways of telling a client’s story in a sentencing hearing.  Consider your client as a character in a Dickens novel—a flawed but worthy individual whose narrative is compelling and sympathetic without being schmaltzy. Viewers will learn how to encourage judges to see the “§3553 factors,” not as a perfunctory checklist, but as an opportunity to consider the individuality and uniqueness of your client and his or her situation.

The course is taught by Susan C. Wolfe, a criminal defense practitioner for over thirty years in the trial and appellate courts. Susan loves sentencing advocacy because it combines the power of intellect with the crucial human element of compassion. After multiple decades as a member of a small and then a big firm, she recently opened a private practice in Midtown, where she continues her zealous advocacy.

Learning Objectives:
  1. Tell your client’s story in a compelling and persuasive, but not cliched, narrative
  2. Embrace the guidelines by understanding how to pick and choose your preferred guidelines and distinguish your client’s conduct from the conduct contemplated by the applicable guideline
  3. Mine the guidelines for analogous language to help make your case
  4. Use statistics to show that lower sentences were imposed in comparable cases
  5. Assess the “§3553 factors” to convey the individuality and uniqueness of your client and his or her situation, including, critically, the collateral consequences that will handicap your client for the rest of his or her life

Credit Information

After completing this course, Lawline will report your attendance information to {{ accredMasterState.state.name }}. Please ensure your license number is filled out in your profile to ensure timely reporting. For more information, see our {{ accredMasterState.state.name }} CLE Requirements page . After completing this course, {{ accredMasterState.state.name }} attorneys self-report their attendance and CLE compliance. For more information on how to report your CLE courses, see our {{ accredMasterState.state.name }} CLE Requirements FAQ .


Susan Wolfe

Law Office of Susan C. Wolfe

Susan Wolfe focuses her practice on white-collar criminal defense at both the trial and appellate levels. She is well-versed in federal securities laws, professional misconduct laws, the federal anti-spam act, and various anti-fraud laws, including mortgage and insurance fraud. She has represented professionals in the real estate, mortgage, securities, and healthcare industries and in the legal profession during all stages of the criminal process, including investigations, bail proceedings, plea negotiations, motions, trial, sentencing, direct appeals, cert petitions, habeas petitions, and collateral licensing matters.

An experienced appellate lawyer, Ms. Wolfe has written and argued numerous appeals. In the last year alone, after filing her clients’ briefs in the Second Circuit, she exacted from the government concessions of error requiring remand for resentencing.

Ms. Wolfe enjoys a robust private practice in Midtown Manhattan. She has taught trial skills for the Intensive Trial Advocacy Program at Cardozo School of Law, written practice commentaries for the National Institute of Trial Advocacy, and authored an article for the New York Law Journal celebrating the joys of brief writing (“How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Brief”). She has been a member of several Criminal Bar Associations and a former member of the New York City Bar Association’s Committee on Legal Issues Pertaining to Animals.


Vincent E.

Very good

Heather W.

This had the best practical information I have heard in a CLE. I really thought it was detailed and terrific.

James R.

Learned some new ways to handle sentencing. Very helpful.

David D.

Great job

Michael R.

I like how she explained the importance of humanizing our client and the effectiveness of not using adjectives.

William D.

I thought this lady was great.

daniel h.

Good overview of Fed sentencing advocacy

Alastair D.

I liked the visual aids.

Jessica M.


Mattie A.


Steven R.

Excellent presentation.

Antoine M.

Good, practical tips from experienced counsel

John C. T.

excellent lecture with great examples

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