Anna Rickels joins UT Law to advance expungement efforts

A University of Tennessee College of Law alumna has been selected to lead the Legal Clinic’s effort in helping rural East Tennesseans rebuild their lives.

Anna Rickels, a 2014 graduate of UT Law, will serve as the College of Law’s reentry fellow working with the ExpungeTN Project that provides legal services to those who struggle to overcome their criminal records. 

In June the Tennessee Bar Foundation’s Tennessee Legal Initiatives Fund awarded the College of Law a $100,000 grant to help better serve vulnerable and underrepresented populations in East Tennessee. In total, the organization awarded more than $1 million to encourage innovation in civil legal aid.

Rickels will primarily work with UT College of Law professors and student attorneys to identify and assist individuals seeking to remove charges from a criminal record. She will organize Saturday Community Courts in rural East Tennessee counties partnering with judges, court clerks, district attorneys, public defenders, churches, and local community groups. 

She will also help launch, a website that will offer user-friendly resources for individuals statewide. will be designed to make more accessible Tennessee’s laws concerning record expungement, employability, and voting rights restoration.

Rickels attended Davidson College in North Carolina where she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in religion and is a former program director for Chapel Hill Quest Martial Arts in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. She returned to her hometown of Knoxville in 2011 to attend law school and worked in criminal defense law as an associate attorney with Oberman and Rice.

Legal Clinic Director Joy Radice, who will oversee Rickels’ efforts, said the project is an important undertaking for the College of Law.

“We are thrilled to have someone with Anna’s skill, determination, and talent working with our Legal Clinic to help better serve residents of Tennessee’s rural areas,” Radice said. 

“Our students, our college, and our community are being well-served by this ExpungeTN, and we look forward to sharing more details as Anna’s efforts continue.”

The UT College of Law Legal Clinic is a national leader in clinical education, ranking ninth in U.S. News and World Report’s top legal clinical programs among public universities and 20th among all U.S. law schools.