Learning by experience on the Innocence Project in London: the employer/employee environment


  • Louise Hewitt University of Greenwich




The Innocence Project London is a pro bono project dedicated to investigating wrongful convictions in the context of individuals who claim actual innocence i.e. they did not commit the crime for which they have been convicted. Law students undertake work on the cases of convicted individuals who have maintained their innocence but have exhausted the criminal appeals process. The only avenue available to these individuals is to make an application to the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC), which was set up to investigate the cases of people who believe they have been wrongfully convicted. The CCRC has the power to refer a case back to the Court of Appeal but requires new evidence or a new legal argument not identified at the time of the trial, which might have changed the whole outcome of the trial had the jury had been given a chance to consider it.

Whilst the notion of innocence projects has been much debated in literature the purpose of this paper is to present the pedagogy of the Innocence Project London and the meaningful learning opportunity it provides to students. The pedagogy combines experiential learning with elements of work based learning to create an employer/ employee environment. Law students are ‘employed’ to work on the Project where the employment process starts with a two-stage application. The clinical learning model on an innocence project is distinct from the traditional clinic approach, in that students start work at the end of a case rather than at the beginning. The problem-solving therefore is developed in the context of critical judgement based on what happened when the case was decided in court as opposed to how the case should be presented in court. The learning for the students has been significant.

Author Biography

Louise Hewitt, University of Greenwich

Lecturer, School of Law, University of Greenwich






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