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Innocence Project attorneys honored by California Lawyer

California Western School of Law professors Justin P. Brooks and Jan Stiglitz, and attorneys Alissa L. Bjerkhoel (CWSL class of 2008) and Michael A. Semanchik (2010) have been named Attorneys of the Year by California Lawyer magazine.

The magazine recognizes the California Innocence Project attorneys for helping to exonerate Brian Banks after he served more than five years in prison for a wrongful conviction.

Banks is the former Long Beach high school football standout who was falsely accused of the rape and kidnapping of a classmate. Last year, California Innocence Project attorneys and students helped clear his name, thanks to new evidence and more comprehensive investigatory work.

“It is truly an honor to be recognized alongside such distinguished members of the bar,” said Brooks, director of the California Innocence Project. “I am particularly proud to be honored alongside my longtime colleague Jan Stiglitz, and former students Alissa Bjerkhoel and Michael Semanchik. Seeing Alissa and Michael advance from eager young law students to the outstanding attorneys they are today has been a great privilege.”

Brooks, Stiglitz, Bjerkhoel and Semanchik will be honored, along with 60 other attorneys from around the state, at the 17th Annual Attorneys of the Year awards ceremony on March 12 in San Francisco and in the March 2013 issue of California Lawyer magazine.

It marks the second time in recent years that Brooks and Stiglitz have been honored with the Attorneys of the Year award for their work with the California Innocence Project.

“The California Western community takes great pride in the valuable community service the California Innocence Project provides and the unique learning opportunities the clinical program offers our students,” said California Western Dean Niels B. Schaumann. “We thank California Lawyer for recognizing their work with this prestigious award.”

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