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Akin Adepoju L’07

Fighting for Their Lives

By Michael M. Bowden, Law School Communications Manager, Office of University Communications

Just a year and a half out of law school, Akin Adepoju L’07 is already handling capital cases – assisting indigent defendants who have received death sentences after being represented by incompetent trial counsel. As an attorney with the Fair Trial Initiative in Durham, N.C., Adepoju helps these “dead men walking” appeal their convictions and win second trials.

His very first case with the Initiative, in fact, rescued a client from death row. “While the hours are long and the cases emotionally taxing, the fight is noble and the reward is incredible,” Adepoju says, adding that he considers it a distinct privilege to be handling such complex and high-stakes cases so early in his career. “It is an incredible opportunity to learn from senior attorneys how to practice law at the very highest level. It doesn’t get any more serious than this: You screw up, your client gets killed. Most of us would say it’s serious enough if our clients lose their home, custody of their child or their retirement savings!”

Adepoju credits his training at RWU Law – which included community service assignments, moot court, trial team and Criminal Defense Clinic – with helping him cultivate “a practical wisdom, passion and a fair mastery of substantive criminal law and evidence” that serves him well in his work.