Project for the Innocent

Loyola Law School’s Project for the Innocent (LPI) is dedicated to the exoneration of the wrongfully convicted. Loyola Law School students are the heart and soul of the clinic, which is yearlong.  If, after a thorough investigation of a case, a true claim of innocence is provable, clinic students will help draft a habeas petition so that the case can be litigated in court. 

Fieldwork Component

The fieldwork component of the course is designed to provide Loyola Law School students with the practical experience they will need to become zealous and ethical advocates. Students play a central role in every step of the actual investigations LPI undertakes.  For many, this is the most exciting and rewarding part of their clinical experience. Responsibilities include:

  • Investigating claims of innocence
  • Chasing down leads
  • Interviewing witnesses
  • Meeting with prosecutors
  • Visiting prison inmates

Classroom Component

The classroom component of the course is a weekly seminar designed to complement the students' field work and hone their advocacy skills. Students read key cases about the “gateways” to innocence and will receive an overview of habeas practice, with an emphasis on the basic legal knowledge required to draft a petition. The second half of class is set aside for case rounds, where students present their case work for a brainstorming session. Responsibilities include:

  • Screening cases
  • Conducting legal research
  • Drafting memos
  • Preparing declarations for experts
  • Completing written assignments related to the cases students are handling

Course Information

  • Students must be in their 2nd or 3rd years (Day Students) or 3rd or 4th years (Evening Students) and in good standing at the law school.
  • Prerequisites for the clinic are Criminal Law, Criminal Procedure (may be taken concurrently) and Evidence. Students are also strongly encouraged to take the Habeas Corpus Litigation Seminar.
  • Students are expected to spend at least eight (8) hours per week working on their cases.
  • Students must attend a one-day orientation course during the first week of the semester. 
  • Students will receive a total of four (4) credits per semester for their work on these cases and their participation in the classroom component of the course.
  • Grading is on a pass/fail basis.
  • Clinic units also count towards the completion of the pro bono graduation requirement.
  • All prospective students will be required to submit an application including a resumé. Applicants will then interview with clinic directors.