Achieving Meaningful Change

This is the next in a series of posts by recipients of the 2018 Career Services Summer Funding Grant. We’ve asked funding recipients to reflect on their summer experiences and talk about the industries in which they’ve been spending their summer. You can read the entire series here.

This entry is by Chinaechelum Vincent, COL ’20.

This summer, I got the chance to work in Los Angeles, California at Loyola Law School. The law school is home to many legal clinics including the Immigration Justice Clinic, the Juvenile Innocence and Fair Sentencing Clinic, and where I found my home – the Collateral Consequences of Conviction Justice Project. With my intense study of the phenomenon that is mass incarceration, I’ve become familiar with the many consequences that plague a person’s life after being incarcerated. According to the American Civil Liberties Union, “On any given day, the United States locks up more than 2.3 million people, more than any other country in the world per capita. More than 650,000 of those people are released from state and federal prisons every year.” [1] For those that are released every year, recidivism, which is where the person reoffends and lands back behind bars, is very common for over half of these people. For those that manage to stay out of the system, they are returning to a new life with various limitations. These limitations include being barred from living in certain places, the right to vote, and often the most detrimental – many opportunities of employment.

All of the cases I took on this summer at the clinic were carried out in hopes of my clients securing employment. I worked under an attorney and professor – Eleanor Miller, who was previously handling the workload on her own. Coming into the position, I got the opportunity to learn about the changing laws when it came to expungements, particularly Prop 47, which made certain nonviolent and non-serious crimes reduced to misdemeanors, and Prop 64 which made carrying less than an ounce of marijuana legal. A number of my clients were facing barriers to employment while they qualified to have their records sealed to certain employers. I received the opportunity to accompany the professor to a vocational school here in Los Angeles where we took the time to explain the expungement process and therefore notified many students that they qualified for a better future. On top of finding clients, I followed through with completing all of their court forms, talking to them about additional information over the phone or in person, and wrote their declarations to be sent to the court. I managed to help about 20 clients over the course of my internship.

My time at this post-conviction clinic was a rewarding experience for not only my clients but for myself as well. As I prepare for law school this upcoming year, I feel as if I am well-equipped for what is to come. Receiving the opportunity to be in the legal setting, visit courts, and work with actual clients has set the foundation for my future career in the field of criminal defense. I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to have worked at Loyola Law School and for the abundance of knowledge and support I found awaiting me. With my ultimate goal of achieving meaningful change, this opportunity has contributed greatly to the work I hope to pursue in the future.

[1] “Words From Prison: The Collateral Consequences of Incarceration.” American Civil Liberties Union, American Civil Liberties Union,

Author: Student Perspective

Views and opinions from current Penn students.

1 thought on “Achieving Meaningful Change”

Comments are closed.