Opportunity Fund helps Pro Bono Center Address Justice Inequities through Pardons

  • 11/3/2022
  • Lawyers Journal, the official journal of the Allegheny County Bar Association.

The Pro Bono Center of the Allegheny County Bar Foundation was awarded a $15,000 grant from the Opportunity Fund to help individuals with low incomes clear their criminal records through the pardons process. With the hiring of a law student Pardons Fellow, work on the grant started in earnest last month, and staff hopes to file 60 pardon applications during the 2022-2023 academic year.

Michaela Smith, a rising 2L student and Dean’s Scholar at Duquesne University, came on board as the Pro Bono Center’s Pardons Fellow in September. She assists in managing the cases from start to finish and serves as a “peer mentor” to volunteer law students from the University of Pittsburgh. 

The Pardons Project currently has 32 active cases and will be reaching out to the community this fall and spring to bring in additional clients. To be eligible for representation, an individual’s income must be very low, and they must be free from arrest and off probation for at least three years.

The project will handle only nonviolent misdemeanor and felony convictions, and any fines, costs or restitution must be completely or mostly paid off. Individuals may call the project at 412-402-6606 and a staff member will call them back to screen   them for eligibility.

“Volunteers are needed,” says Barbara Griffin. Training and mentoring are available to attorneys who would
like to take a case. If interested, contact Barbara at 412-402-6622 or

For more information, read the full story from the Lawyers Journal, the official journal of the Allegheny County Bar Association.

  • Criminal Records
  • Pro Bono