From freeing individual clients to reforming the legal system, the work of the CWC is revolutionary. As CWC Director Karen Daniel is fond of saying, “There is no higher calling for an attorney than to speak for the voiceless and powerless.” CWC attorneys and students bring cases to court that others have deemed hopeless, and tell stories of clients’ innocence that have not previously been heard. The poignancy and power of such stories are what drive legislative reforms such as requiring police to record interrogations and lineups, and such judicial rulings as the right to bring innocence claims to court even after other legal claims have been defaulted.
CWC law students are central to this process. Side by side with CWC faculty and pro bono attorneys, students re-investigate crimes by tracking down witnesses, taking crime-scene photos, consulting with experts, and poring over case documents. They meet with clients, draft briefs, argue cases, and advocate tirelessly even in the face of initial defeat: pursuing appeals, filing successive petitions, presenting evidence before prisoner review boards, and creating new paths to justice for the innocent. Along the way they develop advocacy skills that will benefit them wherever their future legal careers take them.
Please watch starting at 11:35 of this program as Micah Chavin ('16) describes a formative courtroom experience in one of his CWC cases:
First-year Northwestern Law students may volunteer at the CWC as a public service opportunity.
Second- and third-year Northwestern Law students may enroll in the Center on Wrongful Convictions Clinic Practice Course.