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California Western School of Law to Offer New Summer Session Innocence Clinic

May 07 2024
California Western Innocence and Justice Clinic logo
California Western Innocence and Justice Clinic logo

SAN DIEGO (May 7, 2024) -- California Western School of Law (CWSL) will offer its first-ever summer session innocence clinic under a new name effective June 1.

The California Western Innocence and Justice Clinic (IJC) will continue a 25-year history of CWSL providing its students the chance to work with experienced attorneys to free wrongly convicted people while earning academic credit. Since its founding in 1999, the IJC, formerly known as the California Innocence Project, has exonerated and freed 40 people who were wrongly convicted and serving prison terms.

“We are pleased to provide a new opportunity for our students to get real-life experience with such socially important legal work,” said CWSL President and Dean Sean M. Scott. “Few things are as gratifying for our future attorneys as reversing a wrongful conviction.”

The IJC clinic has enrolled 11 students to study and work with Professor Megan Baca and Professor Arianna Price at California Innocence Advocates (Cal-IA). Cal-IA also provided volunteer opportunities for students during the last academic term.

Since 2017, Professors Baca and Price have helped to free 15 individuals who were wrongfully convicted of crimes they did not commit. Prior to founding California Innocence Advocates, Professor Baca worked as the Assistant Legal Director and Director of Investigations at Loyola Project for the Innocent, where she taught and trained law students on wrongful conviction, and post-conviction investigation and litigation. Before Loyola, Professor Baca worked with Northern California Innocence Project out of Santa Clara University, School of Law.

Additionally, Professor Amy Kimpel will officially join CWSL on July 1 as Associate Professor and Executive Director of the IJC. She is currently Associate Professor of Clinical Legal Instruction and Director of the Criminal Defense Clinic at the University of Alabama. There, in addition to managing a robust trial practice, Professor Kimpel’s clinic worked on post-conviction cases resulting in the release of four clients from state and federal prison. 

“We are delighted that our national search last fall led us to such a qualified individual,” said Dean Scott. “Professor Kimpel will be a wonderful addition to our faculty, as well as a highly qualified and experienced executive director.”

Earlier in her career, Professor Kimpel worked at the Judicial Council of California in its Criminal Justice Services Office, and as a public defender for both the Federal Defenders of San Diego, Inc. and the Santa Clara County Office of the Public Defender in San Jose. As a public defender, Professor Kimpel tried 25 cases in federal and state court and argued before the Ninth Circuit several times. She earned her J.D., magna cum laude, from New York University School of Law where she was a Hays Fellow and Vanderbilt Medal recipient. She also holds a B.A. in English, magna cum laude, from Columbia University and a M.A. in Education from Teachers College, where she was part of the first cohort of Columbia Urban Educator fellows.

“At its core, CWSL is about educating future lawyers,” Dean Scott concluded. “We look forward to offering a reenergized clinic with capacity to train more students while at the same time building on its rich history of innocence work.”


For 100 years California Western School of Law (CWSL) has trained practice-ready lawyers and thoughtful advocates for justice. The oldest law school in San Diego is entering its second century and continuing to provide students with the fundamental knowledge, skills, and real-world experience to thrive in a rapidly evolving legal landscape. Enrolling an average of 660 students annually, CWSL fields a student body that is representative of our diverse society, creating access for those seeking social and economic mobility for themselves and their communities. At CWSL, tailored programming allows students to focus on their specific areas of interest, and the school’s distinguished faculty are renowned for their dedication both to student growth and to scholarship on critical social issues. CWSL emphasizes practical, hands-on training through clinics, internships, externships, and pro bono service. In its esteemed clinics—New Media Rights, California Western Innocence and Justice Clinic, Community Law Project, and Trademark Clinic—students engage in experiential learning and work with real clients and cases, serving a broad clientele ranging from those wrongfully incarcerated to emerging online content creators. CWSL's Law, Justice, and Technology Initiative attunes students to the transformative impact of new technologies on society and legal practice.  California Western School of Law is committed to excellence in education, nurturing compassionate, practice-ready legal professionals who use the law effectively and creatively to solve human and societal problems.