P&G, Dinsmore, Cincinnati Law fellowship addresses inequities in the criminal justice system

Unique Fortune 500, Am Law 200 partnership yields fellowship for recent law graduate to join one of the most successful Innocence Projects in the U.S.

A recent law school graduate will have the opportunity to join one of the country’s leading Innocence Projects straight out of law school thanks to a newly created fellowship.

Procter & Gamble (P&G), Dinsmore & Shohl, and the Ohio Innocence Project at Cincinnati Law (OIP) collaborated to create the Dinsmore and P&G OIP Fellowship, which is designed to give a recent law school graduate the opportunity to hone lawyering skills and gain experience in civil rights litigation and policy making.

Dean Verna Williams, University Cincinnati College of Law portrait photos at the Innovation Hub. UC/Joseph Fuqua II

Verna Williams, UC Law

“As the events of the past year demonstrate, the tentacles of racism run deep in the criminal justice system, working grave injustices on communities of color. Meaningful change is long overdue. That’s why collaborating with Dinsmore and P&G is so exciting. Together, we will help build a cadre of attorneys to address this crisis,” said Verna Williams, Dean and Nippert Professor of Law, University of Cincinnati College of Law.

“The Procter & Gamble Company continues to build on our longstanding efforts to promote equality, including bold actions addressed at the bias and racism that Black Americans still face. We are honored to join with Dinsmore, one of our long-term partners, to create this new fellowship and provide an essential resource to one of the most successful Innocence Projects in the country,” said Deborah Majoras, Chief Legal Officer & Secretary, The Procter & Gamble Company. “Our goal is to use our unique skills, connections, and access to the broader legal community to meaningfully impact access to legal representation, as well as diversity and inclusion in the profession, starting with our own team and our law firm partners.” 

As the events of the past year demonstrate, the tentacles of racism run deep in the criminal justice system... Meaningful change is long overdue.

Verna Williams, UC Law

George Vincent, Dinsmore

George Vincent, Dinsmore

"Dinsmore's long and successful partnership with P&G and our consistent support of OIP, as well as our commitment to community service, diversity, equity and inclusion, have fueled our passion and excitement for this fellowship program,” said George Vincent, Chairman and Managing Partner, Dinsmore. “I'm proud of both our financial and future hands-on contributions to the development of diverse lawyers, as well as our efforts to improve the legal and criminal justice systems at large."

Marty Dunn, Chair of the Diversity Committee at Dinsmore, agreed. “The ongoing fight for justice is ever-present in our minds and hearts,” he said. “We see some of the victims routinely in the media. But those who tragically die are often forgotten, as are the many struggles of those who languish in our prison system. We’re proud to join P&G in this fellowship to ensure that justice is never abandoned until it is delivered for all.”

Addressing issues of racial justice is work that is done on the ground within communities and the Dinsmore and P&G OIP Fellowship will provide a step toward addressing injustices in the criminal justice system, while serving as a model for similar ventures at other Fortune 500 companies and law firms that want to engage in this work.

Unique to this fellowship program is that it takes the corporate/law firm fellowship model and applies it to Innocence Projects. In addition to opening doors for new attorneys, the program will help establish a pipeline to attract and train candidates on how to litigate and advocate in the context of a dynamic civil rights organization. It is designed for recent law graduates, with a preference for candidates who are underrepresented in the legal profession.

“This fellowship is a step toward addressing barriers that prevent diverse candidates from entering the legal profession generally and the innocence movement specifically,” said Mark Godsey, Daniel P. and Judith L. Carmichael Professor of Law and Director, Lois and Richard Rosenthal Institute for Justice/Ohio Innocence Project. “We hope to diversify the cadre of attorneys who do innocence work, an area that is so significantly impacted by systemic racism and bias. We’re excited to partner with P&G and Dinsmore in this work to provide hands-on, meaningful work experiences for new attorneys as they embark on their legal careers.” 

Dinsmore's long and successful partnership with P&G and our consistent support of OIP, as well as our commitment to community service...have fueled our passion and excitement for this fellowship program.

George Vincent, Dinsmore

A look at the legal landscape

Despite an increased emphasis on diversity and inclusion within the legal field over the past decade, the legal profession remains one of the least diverse. According to the American Bar Association’s National Lawyer Population Survey, four percent of active attorneys identified as Black or African American in 2007 and four percent identified as Hispanic or Latino. Ten years later, those numbers had risen to only five percent. In addition, the percentage of active attorneys identifying as Asian remained steady at two percent, and those who identified as Native American remained around one percent. Though the numbers vary slightly across reporting agencies, the overwhelming fact is that minority populations remain significantly underrepresented in the legal profession.

About the Fellowship

The fellowship is a two-year, set-term apprenticeship program for new graduates, preparing them for a successful career in the courtroom, legislature, or other elected office, and in any public interest legal organization where sophisticated litigation skills are required. In addition to learning the field, the fellow will be mentored by seasoned attorneys along the way. A new fellow will be chosen every two years as the program grows.

The recipient will work as a member of the OIP staff, managing legal cases for claims of actual innocence and supporting OIP’s legislative agenda to help reform the criminal justice system.

About the Ohio Innocence Project at Cincinnati Law

Since its founding in 2003, the Ohio Innocence Project has helped 33 wrongfully convicted Ohioans regain their freedom. Based in the University of Cincinnati College of Law and part of the Rosenthal Institute for Justice, OIP is one of the top-performing members nationally in the Innocence Network, having helped clients who collectively served more than 650 years behind bars for crimes they did not commit. In addition to representing the wrongfully convicted, OIP actively works to develop and advocate for lasting criminal justice reform through legislation, as well as maintaining a robust education and public awareness commitment, which includes pioneering OIP-u, an active network of student advocacy chapters at universities across Ohio.

About Procter & Gamble

P&G serves consumers around the world with one of the strongest portfolios of trusted, quality, leadership brands, including Always®, Ambi Pur®, Ariel®, Bounty®, Charmin®, Crest®, Dawn®, Downy®, Fairy®, Febreze®, Gain®, Gillette®, Head & Shoulders®, Lenor®, Olay®, Oral-B®, Pampers®, Pantene®, SK-II®, Tide®, Vicks®, and Whisper®. The P&G community includes operations in approximately 70 countries worldwide. Please visit http://www.pg.com for the latest news and information about P&G and its brands. For other P&G news, visit us at www.pg.com/news.

About Dinsmore & Shohl

Dinsmore & Shohl LLP has a nationwide team of more than 725 attorneys who are trusted advisers to Fortune 500 companies, institutions, associations, governments, professional firms and individuals. Clients count on Dinsmore to provide a broad range of high-quality, commercial and cost-effective advice. The firm prioritizes diversity, equity and inclusion in all facets of its business, as reflected in Dinsmore’s commitment to pro bono work and community service. For more information, please visit www.dinsmore.com.

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