New Jersey Human Trafficking Victims' Legal Assistance Program
Despite great strides made in addressing the crisis of human trafficking, survivors continue to face significant barriers as they attempt to rebuild their lives post-trafficking. In 2015, attorneys from VLJ and McCarter & English obtained the first ever vacatur 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 with legal needs in New Jersey.
According to a report from the American Bar Association, "The civil justice system is still inaccessible to many trafficking victims. They are largely unaware of the legal recourse and services available to them; psychological trauma, threats to their lives and safety, and lack of resources often prevent them from seeking help. Without assistance and support, victims who do manage to escape are at risk for being re-trafficked." VLJ's Trafficking Program was designed to address these issues and has become a vital service for effectively serving NJ’s human trafficking survivors.
Who Can Participate?
As this program will involve a variety of legal issues, all attorneys – especially those with expertise in a relevant field – are welcome to participate. VLJ has training materials available on certain issues.
What do volunteers do?
Volunteer attorneys are needed to assist trafficking survivors with their legal issue. Possible legal issues include: criminal record clearing (vacatur and expungement), immigration, family law (divorce, custody, child support, etc.), victim-witness advocacy, public benefits, landlord/tenant, driver’s license restoration, and municipal court matters. 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.
How to sign up
As a volunteer attorney with this program, you will periodically receive a request for assistance in representing a trafficking victim. 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.