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OIP Work Is Life Changing for 2L Lindsey Fleissner

Lindsey Fleissner ’12 knew for many years that she wanted to be a lawyer.  Originally from Akron, Ohio, Fleissner attended the University of Dayton for her undergraduate degree, where she majored in psychology.  Throughout college, Fleissner’s participation in legal internships and other experiences fed her interest in being a lawyer, and in criminal law in particular.

After graduation, she chose UC’s College of Law.  “I liked that it was a small school with a really great environment,” Fleissner said.  “The Ohio Innocence Project was a big draw, too,” she explained. “Because I was interested in criminal law, OIP was an experience I was really interested in having.”

Fleissner acted on the opportunity to participate in OIP right away; she applied and was accepted in the spring 2010. As soon as spring semester finals were over, Fleissner and her OIP partner began working right away for the OIP. They immediately began working on a significant case that OIP had been working on for seven or eight years.  “We had a hearing scheduled for the first week in July, so my partner and I started going into the office to learn about the case and prepare for the hearing,” she said. Her work involved preparations for hearings on motions for a new trial, an evidentiary hearing for a federal habeas corpus petition, and other important aspects of the case.  “This particular case is really special to a lot of the people involved in working on it,” Fleissner said, “so it was really a great experience to get to be a part of that.”

As she nears the end of her fellowship with the Innocence Project, Fleissner says she is grateful for having had the experience.  “It’s been both career- and life-changing,” she said, “and I wouldn’t leave if I didn’t have to.”  Fleissner pointed to the practical experiences afforded by the fellowship, such as the opportunities for personal contact with clients and for getting to know and working with their families, as some of the highlights of the job.  “The clients and their families really appreciate that someone is taking the time to talk to them, and to know someone else cares about their situation.”  Fleissner stated that she also enjoys the group of people she has had the chance to work with.  “Both the staff members and the other fellows are great people to work with,” Fleissner said; “we’re all friends as well as colleagues.”

Looking Ahead

During the upcoming summer, Fleissner will be working with the Department of Public Advocacy (DPA) in Kentucky.  She was actually hired for the position back in September; she was so excited about the prospect of working there she called DPA over winter break to ask if they could use her help earlier than planned.  As a result, Fleissner has been working with the DPA one day a week for most of this semester.  “It’s really great preparation,” she said.  “This way I get some experience with the types of work they do before I begin using my limited practice license over the summer.”

After graduation, Fleissner would like to continue the type of work she will be doing with DPA.  “I’d like to work for a few years as a public defender,” she stated, “primarily to get in-court experience and improve my trial skills.  Ultimately, I’d like to go into private practice doing both criminal law and family law.”

Written by: Lindsay Mather ‘11