Innocence Project at the UVA School of Law

Innocence Project at the UVA School of Law

Innocence Project Clinic

Innocence Project at the UVA School of Law

Students in this yearlong clinic investigate and litigate wrongful convictions of inmates throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia. Some of the cases have forensic evidence (usually DNA) that could be tested, and some are non-DNA cases.

For those seeking assistance or requesting an application for a possible case referral to the clinic, contact Nicholas Cummins at 434-924-3732 or

Preliminary cases are assigned to individual clinic students for factual development and evaluation to determine whether or not the clinic should accept the case. The decision to accept or decline representation will be made by the full clinic with the final decision being made by the instructors. Students work in teams of 3-4 to investigate and litigate the cases that are accepted. In every case, students are directed and assisted by the clinic professors, but as students demonstrate competence and confidence, they may earn the opportunity for greater independence. Although the clinic will have a mandatory classroom component, most time will be devoted to casework — interviewing potential clients and witnesses, general investigation, reviewing case files, collecting records, searching court files and drafting pleadings. Students will likely visit inmates at correctional centers, and conduct investigation in a wide variety of socioeconomic settings accompanied by a clinic professor, private investigator or, in some instances, another student.

Students should attempt to arrange their schedules to have at least one full weekday free for investigations. Some weekend and evening investigations are also required. In addition, student teams meet regularly with instructors for supervision and direction. Students earn eight credits for the year, half of which are credit/no credit (Fall) and the other half are graded Honors/Pass/Fail (Spring). Students should anticipate that the clinic will require a minimum of 15 hours per week, but the hours required for clinic work will vary according to the demands of the cases. The professors will not always be able to predict or control when the cases will demand intensive hours, so flexibility is important. Once enrolled in the clinic, you may not drop. 

Virginia Innocence Project Pro Bono Clinic

The Virginia Innocence Project Pro Bono Clinic seeks exoneration for wrongfully convicted people in Virginia. Students who volunteer investigate cases; speak with and visit clients, witnesses and other key people in the case; and write briefs.

To be considered for this clinic, students must both rank the clinic in the clinic lottery and submit application materials within the timeline set by the Student Records Office. Students selected for the clinic through the clinic application/lottery process will be automatically enrolled prior to the regular course lottery.

The positions that the clinic takes on behalf of its clients are independent of the views of the University of Virginia or the School of Law.

Skills Taught
Investigate wrongful convictions, interviewing potential clients and witnesses, reviewing case files, collecting records, searching court files, developing and implementing litigation strategies
Course Length
CR/NC (fall); H/P/F (spring)
Course Credits
8 (4 fall/4 spring)

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