Civil Rights Clinic

Yearlong Graded Course


Credits: 6 (3 academic credits, 3 non-classroom credits)


Co-requisite: Constitutional Law, Evidence


Enrollment: 8 Students


Clinic Hours to Be Completed: 280 Hours (minimum 10 hours per week)


Class Meeting Time: Tuesday 4 - 5:40 p.m.


Class Location: Tribone Center for Clinical Legal Education, Room 201


Office Hours

Prof. Tracey McCants Lewis: 
Prof. Barbara Griffin; By Appt. Room 308


Students are interviewed by the supervising attorneys for admission to the clinic


Students must be available for client meetings on Thursdays from 1 p.m. - 4 p.m.


Tracey McCants Lewis
Adjunct Professor of Law, Supervising Attorney


Barbara Griffin

Adjunct Professor of Law,Supervising Attorney



The Civil Rights Clinic is a yearlong clinic that offers income-qualified clients legal assistance with civil rights litigation and record expungement. Students participate in weekly seminars that address substantive and procedural law issues, then experience hands-on training in case intake and interviewing, client counseling, fact investigation, case analysis, mediation, negotiation, research, and drafting of complaints and documents.

Duquesne Law students attend monthly meetings at the Pittsburgh Chapter of the NAACP to review discrimination claims and conduct initial client intake meetings on site. This innovative partnership with the organization’s staff and volunteers has resulted in a comprehensive NAACP intake and referral system for civil rights and other legal complaints. Potentially viable complaints are then referred to the Civil Rights Clinic or and other appropriate sources for assistance.

In a partnership with the Urban League of Pittsburgh, Civil Rights Clinic students also attend a monthly “Pardon Clinic” and teach participants about Pennsylvania expungement law and the pardon process.  Under the direction of supervising attorneys, students provide advice and represent individuals pursuing expungements and pardons.  Students then draft the necessary petitions and motions and file the petitions in the appropriate counties. 

Students also assist individuals with the completion of the complex Pennsylvania Board of Pardons’ clemency application and compete filings with the Board.  After the lengthy Board investigation process, students prepare clients who have been selected for public pardon hearings through mock hearings. 

In January, 2016, students accompanied a client to Harrisburg for observation and support during the public hearing phase.

Clinic News 

Civil Rights Clinic cffers expungement workshop with Homewood Children's Village

Law students in the Civil Rights Clinic hosted a free expungement workshop for the public on Saturday, March 25, 2017, 4 - 7 p.m. The event was sponsored by the Homewood Children's Village in partnership with Pennsylvania Representative Ed Gainey. Prof. Tracey McCants Lewis, the clinic's supervising attorney and interim co-director of clinical legal education, lead the program. Learn more


Law professor Talks forgiveness during TedxPittsburgh talk

Professor Tracey McCants Lewis explained the work of the Civil Rights Clinic during a recent Tedx Pittsburgh talk. McCants Lewis detailed how Duquesne Law students represent individuals pursuing expungements and pardons through the clinic and discussed why the clients are often blocked from work and housing without this critical legal assistance.


Front page story details law students' work

Earlier this year students in Duquesne Law's Civil Rights Clinic helped to prepare client Carol Ramsey for her appearance before the Pennsylvania Board of Pardons and attended the hearing with her in Harrisburg. The board unanimously recommended approval of Ramsey’s request in January. Now the recommendation is before Gov. Tom Wolf, who can make a decision at any time.

Read the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette front-page story of Sunday, March 20, 2016: "Long-sought pardon can open doors for woman to move forward."

The newspaper followed the story with an editorial on March 22, 2016, "Worth a pardon: A former addict deserves forgiveness of old crimes," that mentions the law students' work.

The article and editorial prompted a letter to the editor from the director of the Pennsylvania Organization for Women in Early Recovery, Rosa Davis. Read "Governor, please give Carol Ramsey a pardon.


 Civil Rights Clinic staffs a public expungement and pardon workshop

Pa. Rep. Jake Wheatley, POORLAW (a Pittsburgh neighborhood nonprofit that seeks uphold social, economic and racial justice) and Duquesne Law's Civil Rights Clinic are hosting an expungement workshop Saturday, March 26, 2016, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Hazelwood Fire Union Hall, located at 120 Flowers Ave., Pittsburgh, Pa. 15207.

The event is free and open to anyone looking to learn about current expungement and pardon laws in Pennsylvania.




Civil Rights Clinic participates in NAACP's 'Journey for Justice'

On September 15, 2015 Civil Rights Clinic students traveled with Professor McCants Lewis to Washington, D.C., to participate in the closing ceremony of the NAACP’s “America’s Journey for Justice.” The NAACP commenced a 1000-mile march from Selma, Ala. to Washington, D.C., to advance its national advocacy agenda. 

Students in the clinic had the opportunity to meet with NAACP President and CEO Cornell William Brooks to discuss the clinic’s work with the NAACP Pittsburgh Unit. Students attend monthly meetings at the local NAACP office and meet with individuals who present with legal issues dealing with employment, housing and public accommodation discrimination.  


Professor McCants Lewis honored

The Women’s Law Association honored Tracey McCants Lewis, assistant clinical professor of law, at its 23rd annual Woman of the Year event this spring. Learn more


And in November of 2015, the YWCA of Greater Pittsburgh recognized Professor McCants Lewis among its five 2015 honorees for the 24th annual Racial Justice Awards. Read the Duquesne University news.


 Duquesne Law students participate in MLK prayer breakfast 

Duquesne Law students, faculty, and deans participated in the Allegheny County Bar Association Homer Brown Division's Martin Luther King, Jr. prayer breakfast on Mon., Jan. 19, 2015 at the Mount Ararat Baptist Church. The Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh received the division's Drum Major for Justice Award at the event.

Duquesne Law’s Civil Rights Clinic partners with the Urban League to provide expungement and pardon services to clients requiring legal assistance in order to secure housing and employment. Students visit the Urban League monthly to teach sessions on re-entry and discuss Duquesne Law’s clinical programs.  

Photo: Civil Rights Clinic students with Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh president and CEO. From left, Sydney Maurer, Jessica Altobelli, Esther L. Bush, Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh and Duquesne University Trustee, Rebecca Rose, Kara Lattanzio, and Zane Madden.


"Duquesne law students argue case in federal appeals court"

Rare opportunity goes to two studying law at Duquesne 

Two Duquesne University School of law students, Carolyn Slayton and Nathan Ward, presented oral arguments before the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in the case of Wilson v. Superintendent of SCI Huntingdon, They were supervised by Adjunct Professor Adrian Roe and Acting Director of Clinical Education Tracey McCants Lewis.

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, April 22, 2012

Read the feature

In addition to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette story, the students received additional recognition when the Court posted the audio from the argument.


Awards and Distinctions

The Civil Rights Clinic was honored as the recipient of the Pittsburgh NAACP’s President’s Award for Outstanding Community and Legal Support for the Underrepresented. The Clinic received the award at the 55th Annual Human Rights Dinner in 2009.