The Expungement Clinic assists low-income clients in filing applications to seal their criminal record. These criminal records, often ten or more years old, can present multiple problems for individuals, ranging from the stigma attached to the record to losing out on jobs and opportunities for housing.
The Clinic is staffed by volunteer and paid law students. These students perform background checks, council clients on their eligibility for sealing, and draft motions on the behalf of the client. Students learn the important skills of interviewing clients, filing documents with the Court, and managing a case load. Students with a legal intern certificate may represent clients in Court under the supervision of an attorney.
The Expungement Clinic co-hosts monthly outreach events in the community with the CQE Clinic. At past events, we have had over 150 people attend for services.
Certificate of Qualification for Employment (CQE) Clinic
The Certificate for Qualification of Employment Clinic is a monthly outreach clinic that assists area residents in obtaining a CQE. While a CQE does not guarantee employment, a CQE can be instrumental in helping a person with a conviction gain employment. There is no appointment necessary to attend the Certificate for Qualification of Employment Clinic. Participants are helped in the order they arrive. Each qualified participant meets with a law student to complete the CQE petition.
At the clinic, students interview clients in order to pre-screen the clients for eligibility and assist eligible clients to complete the CQE petition. The student interviews the client about convictions, work history and references. The student uses this information to complete the online CQE application.
Volunteer law students staff the CQE clinic. Each volunteer receives training on the CQE application process. Both the training and clinic count as pro bono of limited means’ hours. If you are a law student interested in additional information or would like to volunteer please contact Professor Joann Sahl, firstname.lastname@example.org or Sarah Wetzel at email@example.com.
For more information, including what is needed for the clinic, click here for the CQE page.
The Clemency Project assists low-income clients with their efforts to obtain a pardon of their convictions from the Governor of Ohio. Low-income clients who have multiple convictions are unable to get their criminal records sealed through the judicial process of expungement. Their convictions prevent them from obtaining employment or finding housing.
The Clemency Project is staffed by volunteer law students. The law students interview the clients and assist the clients with completing their clemency applications and the accompanying letter to the Governor.
For assistance with a clemency application, please contact Community Legal Aid Services Inc., 800-998-9454. to be referred to the clinic.
The University of Akron School of Law held another of its monthly outreach clinics on Saturday, August 23, 2014. Local citizens who attend the clinic have the opportunity to complete applications for the Certificate of Qualification for Employment (CQE) or applications for expungement (the court sealing of their criminal record). The purpose of the clinics is to increase employment opportunities for those who have a criminal record.
Eighty-four people attended the clinic held on Saturday at the Mount Haven Missionary Baptist Church. During the 3-hour clinic, law student volunteers completed twenty-nine CQE applications, and twenty-six expungement applications. Twenty University of Akron law students staffed the clinic, including 8 first year students who had not yet attended their first official law school class.
The law student volunteers raved about their volunteer experience at the clinic.
First year student Kyle Cramer stated, “I greatly enjoyed the experience. It was very satisfying helping people. Most of the clients were very grateful.” Fourth year part-time student Kristen Guappone commented: “I truly felt I made a difference. [I helped] clients who [had] acknowledge[d that] they ... made a serious mistake in the past, and were now actively trying to turn their lives around. Frustrated that their past mistake was keeping them from employment or housing, the CQE petition we filed helped them demonstrate and show to the court that they were making a sincere . . . effort to remain a ... law-abiding citizen and to maintain those positive choices in their lives. The clients were overly thankful, some near tears, that [the] granting of this CQE might finally allow them . . . to leave some of their past behind, and have a second chance.”
Third year student Dave Garnier had similar comments about his experience. The “ CQE Legal Clinic is a way for law students to help these people take steps to improve their lives and those of their family members. The CQE application process is not difficult for a law student, but our help makes a real difference in the lives of many Summit County residents with prior convictions. As students at the University of Akron School of Law, aware of the responsibilities of those entering the legal profession to the community ... we welcome such a wonderful opportunity to bring together a need and a possible way to meet that need.”
Third year student Justin Burns also observed that “Akron Law's CQE Clinic is an example of how the University of Akron School of Law can partner with our community to facilitate ex-offenders' re-entry into society. Personally, I found it frustrating to hear of how our clients' past offenses, some [with] convictions over 15 years ago, still faced obstacles in finding employment based on their criminal record. Since the individuals with whom I worked had already demonstrated the ability to lead law-abiding lives in order to become eligible for the certificate, it was inspiring to become part of their journey as they apply to become active, engaged citizens in our community.”
To date, the University of Akron School of Law has hosted 14 outreach clinics. 709 people have attended the clinics and they have been helped by 295 law-student volunteers. The law students have completed 225 CQE applications and approximately 191 expungement applications.
The CQE clinic is supervised by Professor Joann Sahl, and the Expungement clinic is supervised by Attorney Russel Nichols.