Pro Bono Project partners with Samaritan Ministries to offer Expungement Clinics

The Pro Bono Project will begin hosting Expungement Clinics each month for clients of Samaritan Ministries in downtown Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Samaritan’s Ministries is a non-profit that is part 90-day homeless shelter, part food bank and part year-long rehabilitation program for older adults.

“Samaritan’s Ministries is a true asset to the community,” writes Sarah Saint in the Pro Bono Project newsletter. “They feed more than 600 people per day.”

Beginning Sept. 29, once a month from 5 to 7 p.m. Wake Forest Law student volunteers will help clients fill out a questionnaire to determine his or her eligibility for expungement. From there, District Court Judge Denise Hartsfield (JD ’91) and the Clerk of Court will pull records for those the law students think qualify and send their information to the Secretary of State. Only a limited number of people can get an expungement. Eligibility requirements include only one nonviolent conviction that occurred more than 15 years ago.

According to project coordinator, Emily Morris, determining eligibility is not the most important part about what law students can do. “They all want to tell their story,” Morris said. “That’s the most important part. Students have to be able to talk to people and help them feel better about their situation. The information can be hard if the person you’re talking to is not eligible for an expungement. Students have to find a way to say it in a way that makes them feel better, not worse.”

The Pro Bono Project hopes to grow this partnership over the next year, Morris added. “The clients of Samaritan Ministries have many legal needs.,” she says. “By getting to know what needs their clients have, we can find more ways to serve this population through pro bono.”

Want to get involved on the ground floor of this new project? Email Emily Morris or sign up here. Training is on Wednesday, Sept. 23, at noon in Room 1301.