Karen L. Daniel

Clinical Professor of Law


Karen Daniel is a Clinical Professor of Law. She served as the Director of the Center on Wrongful Convictions (CWC) through 2018. She supervises second- and third-year law students in the representation of convicted persons with claims of innocence in state and federal court proceedings and before the Governor’s clemency board.  She also speaks frequently about her work and the causes of wrongful convictions.  Since joining the CWC in 2000, Professor Daniel and her students have freed numerous wrongfully convicted clients, achieving exonerations in both DNA and non-DNA cases.  In 2012, Professor Daniel co-founded the Women’s Project of the Center on Wrongful Convictions.  Professor Daniel is a graduate of Harvard Law School and a former member of the Illinois Office of the State Appellate Defender, where she represented hundreds of convicted defendants on appeal and supervised staff attorneys and law student interns.

Professor Daniel's clients at the Center on Wrongful Convictions have included Michael Evans, who served 27 years in prison for a murder he did not commit prior to his exoneration through DNA testing; Dana Holland, who was freed after a decade of incarceration for two wrongful convictions; Randy Steidl, who became the 18th and most recent former Illinois death row inmate to be exonerated since the Illinois death penalty was reinstated in 1977; Marlon Pendleton, who was exonerated by DNA testing in 2006; Robert Wilson, whose conviction for a 1997 attempted murder was vacated nearly 10 years later after the victim admitted she was mistaken in her identification of him; Julie Rea Harper, who was acquitted of the murder of her son after a retrial in 2006; and Alan Beaman, whose 1995 murder conviction was reversed by the Illinois Supreme Court in 2008 based on prosecutorial misconduct.

View Full Bio

Areas of Expertise

  • Wrongful Convictions
  • Clinical Teaching
  • Criminal Law
  • Criminal Procedure


  • BS, University of California, Davis
  • JD, Harvard University

Prior Appointments

  • Director, Center on Wrongful Convictions, Northwestern University School of Law
  • Co-Legal Director, Center on Wrongful Convictions, Northwestern University School of Law
  • Illinois Office of the State Appellate Defender
  • Office of the Cook County Public Defender

Back to Faculty