Expungement clinic offers Louisville Law students hands-on opportunity

- by UofL School of Law News

Louisville Law students volunteer at an expungement clinic on Oct. 26, 2019.
Louisville Law students volunteer at an expungement clinic on Oct. 26, 2019. Clockwise: Alana Johnson, Elias Kang-Bartlett, Seth Wiseman, Maggie Groot, Sofia Calleja.

Several Louisville Law students volunteered at an expungement clinic hosted by the Louisville Urban League last month.

The Reily Reentry Project Expungement Clinic, named for local lawyer and Urban League board member Stephen Reily, drew hundreds of people who wanted to clear their criminal records.

"In law, 'expungement' is the process by which a record of criminal conviction is destroyed or sealed from state or federal record. An expungement order directs the court to treat the criminal conviction as if it had never occurred, essentially removing it from a defendant’s criminal record as well as, ideally, the public record," according to the American Bar Association.

Having a criminal conviction can make it more difficult to find a job or rent an apartment. But expungements come with fees that can be a barrier to many people; in Kentucky, to expunge a misdemeanor costs $100 and to expunge a felony is $500. Reily committed $100,000 a year for three years to cover the fees from this clinic and clinics planned for the future. Louisville Law students also volunteered at a February 2019 expungement clinic.

"It was an absolute privilege to help the Louisville Urban League provide a service so desperately needed," says Sofia Calleja, Class of 2020. "An expungement of a record can help lift families out of poverty. It opens doors to better jobs with benefits and access to stable housing. It was an amazing learning experience."

See coverage of the October 26, 2019, clinic from WHAS11.