Detroit Mercy Law Traveling Expungement Clinic Receives 2020 Kimberly M. Cahill Leadership Award

October 05, 2020

The ATJ Mid-Northern Michigan Expungement Project and Nicholas Schroeck, Associate Dean of Experiential Education, Rebecca Simkins Nowak, Director of Clinical Operations and Outreach, and Judge Michelle Rick ‘91, Adjunct Professor, received the 2020 State Bar of Michigan Kimberly M. Cahill Bar Leadership Award. This award recognizes excellence in promoting the ideal of professionalism or equal justice for all, or in responding to a compelling legal need within the community. 

The traveling expungement clinic was led by Nowak , Schroeck, and Judge Rick.  

“We are honored to receive this award from the State Bar of Michigan, particularly since Kim Cahill was a dear friend of mine,” said Nowak. 

Judge Rick identified a need for expungement services in mid-northern Michigan and a total of 15 students from Detroit Mercy Law traveled to nine counties providing assistance to nearly 350 people to determine their eligibility for expungement.  At these clinics, individuals were provided no cost legal services to determine if their criminal record was eligible for expungement and to assist them in navigating the complicated process.  

“The Expungement Clinic was a daring legal innovation designed to restore dignity, pride, and, in some instances, life necessities to persons among us who have paid their debt to society and otherwise atoned for their past wrongdoings,” explained Judge Rick. “Expungements are restorative. They have the power of opening doors that would remain closed - doors to employment, to student loans, to public benefits and other opportunities, and to a better life.” 

Students worked with volunteer attorneys, court officials, judges, sheriffs, and Detroit Mercy Law faculty and staff. 

The process of expungement in itself is tedious and not realistic for individuals to without the help of an attorney or someone familiar with the process,” explained Kaycee Berente ‘21. “Being a part of the Traveling Expungement Clinic was a privilege as I was able to learn hands-on and be a small part of helping change someone’s life.”