Trafficking Victims Legal Assistance Program
Sex trafficking victims are coerced into prostitution against their will and often end up with criminal records which make it difficult for them to obtain jobs, housing and education. In 2015, attorneys from VLJ and McCarter & English obtained the first ever vactur of convictions under New Jersey’s new anti-trafficking law. Since then, McCarter & English, as well as other law firms across the state, have continued to support the program by providing free representation to survivors wishing to file vacatur petitions in New Jersey.
Who Can Participate?
This program is currently open to volunteers from McCarter & English and Gibbons, P.C. In addition to being licensed to practice law in New Jersey, this program requires volunteers to have completed specialized training on working with trafficking victims and handling these cases. VLJ will provide such training on request when a sufficient number of new attorneys from either law firm expresses an interest in volunteering.
What do volunteers do?
As a volunteer attorney with this program, you---or your law firm, will periodically receive a request for assistance in representing a trafficking victim in vacating his/her criminal convictions that occurred as a result of having been trafficked. If you are available and have no conflicts, you will quickly receive a referral package that contains any available paperwork, an initial client narrative, and VLJ’s case opening paperwork. A VLJ attorney will co-counsel each case to ensure continuity of service for the clients, many of whom continue to suffer the effects of their trauma.
Each case will likely involve:
- An initial client meeting, lasting between 1 and 2 hours, to introduce the team and conduct a preliminary interview for fact development;
- Document collecting, additional fact finding, and legal research;
- Drafting and filing the vacatur petition and supporting documents;
- Appearing in court with the client; and
- Filing all court orders with the necessary parties to ensure that the client’s record is properly cleared.
How to sign up
If you are at one of the sponsoring law firms of this program (McCarter & English and Gibbons, P.C.) and are interested in volunteering, please check with the pro bono coordinator at your firm and sign up through that person. If you are a new volunteer to VLJ, you also need to complete our volunteer registration form.