The Lancaster Bar Association (LBA) recently held its first pro bono criminal record expungement clinic. Eight LBA members, including GKH attorney Sheila O’Rourke, joined with MidPenn Legal Services, PA CareerLink and Rep. Mike Sturla’s office to run the clinic. The goal of the clinic was to help participants remove eligible criminal record blemishes, which are barriers to employment. Some 30 clients attended the clinic.
Volunteer attorneys did intakes to determine whether records were eligible for expungement. MidPenn Legal Services will now review these files and assign eligible cases to attorneys like GKH’s Sheila O’Rourke and Jeff Worley, who have volunteered to work with expungement cases in the future.
“It surprised me to learn that more than 70 million people in the U.S., which is about one third of all working age adults, have a criminal record,” said Attorney O’Rourke. “Many people don’t realize that some lower-level convictions, and also non-convictions like dismissed cases and findings of not guilty, can be expunged from their records. Helping individuals assess whether their records can be expunged is the first step to breaking down barriers to essential resources, like employment, housing, and benefits.”
Attorney O’Rourke serves on the Board of Directors of the YWCA and was recently appointed to the MidPenn legal Services Board of Directors, beginning July 1.