Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2022, $5,000,000)
Equal Justice Works is the nation’s largest facilitator of legal Fellowships through which lawyers address critical legal needs in partnership with legal services organizations, transforming their passion for equal justice into a lifelong commitment to public service. With support from Office for Victims of Crime (OVC), Equal Justice Works will launch the Crime Victims Advocacy Program, a two-year legal Fellowship. In this program, a national cohort of 21 attorney Fellows, employed and supervised by competitively selected legal services organizations across the country, will expand the capacity of participating agencies to provide civil legal assistance to victims of crime in underserved, Black, Indigenous and other People of Color (BIPOC) communities and to enforce their rights as crime victims. In addition, the program will mobilize 21 summer law student Fellows who will support the work of attorney Fellows and be trained to join the pipeline of victims’ rights attorneys. Participating legal services organizations will be selected from across the country, with priority given to applicants that demonstrate that they are culturally specific organizations, located in and/or working with underserved, BIPOC communities, and proposing Fellowship projects focused on serving BIPOC crime victims in a culturally responsive manner. The program leverages Equal Justice Works’ decades of expertise in creating and implementing results-driven attorney and law student Fellowship programs to respond to unmet legal needs of crime victims, especially those in BIPOC communities.
The Crime Victims Advocacy Program will be implemented in collaboration with the training and technical assistance (TTA) provider, the National Crime Victim Law Institute (NCVLI). As the national expert on victim law and legal training, NCVLI will provide intensive and multi-faceted TTA to the Fellows throughout the program to develop their knowledge and skills on relevant legal issues and best practices and to create opportunities for peer learning.
During the Fellowship, through a combination of brief advice and full representation, the Fellows will represent crime victims to enforce their rights and pursue available legal remedies in collateral civil legal matters relating to their victimization. In addition, the Fellows will engage in outreach, community education, and partnership-building activities. By increasing access to legal assistance in underserved, BIPOC communities across the United States, the Crime Victims Advocacy Program will contribute to OVC’s vision for a broad and coordinated community network of wraparound pro bono legal services for victims of crime.