Lawyers & Students
Volunteer lawyers are crucial to the success of the Pennsylvania Innocence Project. With a limited professional staff, volunteer attorneys serve on every case we take to court as co-counsel to exonerate the convicted innocent.
Lawyers at a single firm can get involved in two ways: (1) reviewing a case at the Stage 3 level, or (2) representing a Project client in court.
All attorneys have to be trained before being able to volunteer with the Pennsylvania Innocence Project. We will make arrangements with an interested firm to come to the firm to put on the training; the program is about 2 hours long. If you are interested in having the Project come to your firm for a training session, please send an e-mail to email@example.com.
One of the primary objectives of the Pennsylvania Innocence Project is to engage students in all of the area law schools, as well as other undergraduate and graduate programs such as forensic science and journalism, in the work of freeing the wrongfully convicted. With a trained volunteer supervisor, students are the ones screening, evaluating and, in some cases, investigating and helping to litigate claims of innocence.
Law students are integral to the work of the Pennsylvania Innocence Project. Students from area law schools – Drexel, Penn, Rutgers, Temple, and Villanova – help process and investigate applications for assistance. Students participate in several ways:
- Externship or experiential learning for credit: the Project offers law students the chance to work with us for a full semester while earning credit at their school.
- Pro bono hours: dozens of students a semester volunteer their time with the Project, coming to the office to help screen cases 2 – 3 hours a week during the regular semester
- Summer interns: each year, we take on 12 law students as full-time interns. These students take on individual cases and assist with investigation and litigation, as well as help with policy initiatives.
Experiential learning programs are processed by the individual law schools. Any student interested in volunteering outside a clinical or extern program must attend a training session first. We hold hour-long trainings each fall on all of the area law school campuses.
Students in other programs have served as interns receiving course credit, work study students, and even volunteers. Interns and work-study students generally have worked with the Project for 5-10 hours per week, and help with administrative tasks including obtaining case files from court, helping to organize events, contributing to our Facebook or Twitter accounts, and writing for our blog. Interested students should contact the Project by e-mail after consulting with their department chair or contact.
Other Student Groups
Often student groups contact the Project to put on an educational program at their school or university. We will work with the student organization to tailor a presentation to the needs of the school, including sponsoring an exoneree to speak of his experiences.