The American Bar Association (ABA) Standing Committee on Paralegals recognized paralegal education programs that are teaching the next generation of paralegals the importance of pro bono work as well as how they can help provide access to justice.
The Illinois State University Expungement Clinic was among the 13 initiatives recognized by the ABA. The recognized programs were scattered across the country, based in Arizona, Connecticut, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, New York, Ohio, Washington, and Wisconsin. Illinois State University was one of three institutions offering expungement clinics.
Professor Thomas McClure, director of legal studies, started the Expungement Clinic in 2020 to offer students hands-on legal experience and a civic engagement opportunity. Legal Studies students assist individuals seeking to expunge and seal their criminal records. Every legal studies major and minor will work on an actual expungement or sealing case under McClure’s direction as the supervising attorney.
The legal studies program partners with Adrian Barr, managing attorney of Prairie State Legal Services’ Bloomington Office. This nonprofit organization offers free legal assistance to low-income clients in 36 counties in Central and Northern Illinois.