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National Crime Victim Law Institute

FAQs

Q.        What locations currently have a Victim Legal Assistance Network funded by the federal Office for Victims of Crime (OVC)?

A.        OVC is funding 9 Victim Legal Assistance Networks.  Some of these Networks operate statewide while others focus their efforts in smaller geographic areas.  The following jurisdictions have a Network (alphabetical by state of location): 

  • Alaska
  • Los Angeles, California
  • Denver, Colorado
  • Georgia
  • Cook County, Illinois
  • Montana
  • New York (outside of Manhattan)
  • Texas
  • Washington, DC.

More information about each Network can be found on our Networks Page. 

Q.        I provide services to crime victims, how can I become part of a Victim Legal Assistance Network?

A.        While each Network is uniquely structured in terms of formal membership and partnership, every Network is excited to work with service providers in its area to ensure comprehensive services for victims.  To find the Victim Legal Assistance Network in your area go to our Networks Page where you’ll find Network descriptions and contact information.  If you are working in a jurisdiction that does not have a Network you can join NCVLI’s member alliance - the National Alliance of Victims’ Rights Attorneys & Advocates (NAVRA) and get connected nationally.  You can also sign up to receive NCVLI’s monthly e-newsletter to stay informed of the latest updates with the Networks by following the prompts on this page.

Q.        I am working with a crime victim who needs legal assistance. How can I connect her/him with an attorney?

A.        There are several ways to connect crime victims with attorneys. 

  • If the victim is located in the same area as one of the Networks you can directly contact the Network.  To find the Victim Legal Assistance Network in your area go to our Networks Page where you’ll find descriptions and contact information. 
  • NCVLI’s online resource map has links to resources across the country, including links on how to find an attorney in your area.  You can find the map here
  • You can also contact NCVLI directly to request a referral to an attorney or advocate by filling in this Referral Request Form. Please note that NCVLI currently has limited availability to assist with referrals due to resource limitations. Requests will be addressed only as capacity allows.

Q.        I am a crime victim in need of legal assistance. How can I access an attorney?

A.        There are several ways to connect with attorneys. 

  • If you are located in the same area as one of the Networks you can directly contact the Network.  To find the Victim Legal Assistance Network in your area go to our Networks Page where you’ll find descriptions and contact information. 
  • NCVLI’s online resource map has links to resources across the country, including links on how to find an attorney in your area.  You can find the map here
  • You can also contact NCVLI directly to request a referral to an attorney or advocate by filling in this Referral Request FormPlease note that NCVLI currently has limited availability to assist with referrals due to resource limitations. Requests will be addressed only as capacity allows.

Q.        I am an attorney who works with crime victims, how do I connect with or get on the referral list for NCVLI and the Networks?

A.        Each Network is uniquely structured in terms of referrals to attorneys.  To find the Victim Legal Assistance Network in your area and ask about its referral list go to our Networks Page where you’ll find Network descriptions and contact information.  In addition, regardless of where you work, you can join NCVLI’s member alliance - the National Alliance of Victims’ Rights Attorneys & Advocates (NAVRA); members are notified when a victim is in need of legal representation in their jurisdiction.

Q.        I am an attorney working with a victim on a legal issue and need information on victims’ rights, how can you help?

A.        NCVLI can provide research, writing and strategic advice on cases to help protect victims’ rights.  Click here to fill out a technical assistance request.

Q.        My jurisdiction does not have a Victim Legal Assistance Network.  How can we start one?

A.        NCVLI is available to consult with you as you work to develop a network.  We are currently documenting the efforts of the nine OVC-funded Networks and we are happy to share information gleaned from this effort, including promising practices, lessons learned and successes, and to tailor our assistance to your state’s particular needs and resources. Please contact us to request further information. Click here to fill out a technical assistance request. 

Q.        I am a VOCA Administrator interested in helping to launch a legal assistance network in my state using VOCA dollars. What assistance can you offer me?

A.        A key effort of NCVLI on this project is documentation of the progress of the nine OVC-funded Networks for replication by future jurisdictions.  We are committed to helping others learn from the efforts of the existing Networks and avoid re-inventing the wheel. We would be happy to share promising practices, lessons learned and successes, in addition to discussing your state’s particular needs and resources. To learn more please contact using our technical assistance form.

Q.        Are there certain types of crime or victim populations that are the focus of the legal services provided by the Networks?

A.        No.  A key part of the vision of the Victim Legal Assistance Project is creating systems so that all victims of crime have access to legal services so that “crime victims’ rights are enforced and that victims of crime receive the broad range of legal services needed.” To achieve this, the 9 OVC-funded Victim Legal Assistance Networks serve victims of all crimes from identity theft/fraud to homicide to sexual assault to domestic violence to human trafficking.  The legal needs responded to include legal services related to employment, family, housing, criminal, Indian, and/or immigration law.  The systems that the Network lawyers may work within include campus, criminal, civil, tribal, and/or administrative systems. 

Q.        I have seen the project described as “wraparound”, “holistic” and “comprehensive”, what is meant by these terms?

A.        These terms are used to describe the effort of the Networks to ensure that crime victims have access to a single network of lawyers who together will work to help ensure that their rights are enforced, including in criminal cases, and that they receive the broad range of legal services needed to help rebuild their lives in the aftermath of their victimization. These legal services might include legal assistance with an ongoing criminal case, housing, employment, immigration, family law and other matters.

Q.        Why is the term “victim” being used rather than “survivor”?

A.        While the term “survivor” is certainly one of empowerment for many persons, the term “victim” is used in this project because it is a legal term of art (i.e., a term which is defined by law), and since the project has a legal focus “victim” is the term most fitting for use in the name of the Project.  All service providers within the Project will certainly honor the term of preference when working with any individual.

Q.        What if I just want information about victims’ rights but not representation?

A.        Each Network, as well as NCVLI, can provide information about victims’ rights to requesters. Information about and contact information for each Network can be found on our Networks Page.  To request information about victims’ rights from NCVLI, you can click here to fill out a technical assistance request.

Q.        What is the duration of the Victim Legal Assistance Networks Project?      

A.        OVC has funded two rounds of Networks, the first in 2012 and a second round in 2014. All Networks are following the same steps:

  1. Needs Assessment
  • Development of a Steering Committee/Research Team
  • Conduct Needs Assessment
  • Identify Gaps
  • Create Implementation Plan
  1. Implementation
  • Pilot Phase
  • Full Implementation
  • Expansion

Q.        Is this Project being formally evaluated?

A.        Yes.  In 2012, OVC funded National Institute for Justice to conduct an evaluation on the originally funded Networks.  That evaluation is well underway.

Q.        How and when were the Networks funded?

A.        In FY 2012, in recognition of the preliminary findings of the Vision 21 initiative, OVC launched the Wraparound Victim Legal Assistance Network Demonstration Project, currently funding five demonstration legal networks using VOCA dollars.  In FY 2014, OVC awarded Vision 21 funding to four VOCA Assistance formula grant-administering agencies to expand its support of comprehensive legal assistance services.

Q.        What is NCVLI’s role on the Victim Legal Assistance Networks Project?

A.        In 2014 OVC funded NCVLI to be the Training and Technical Assistance (TTA) Provider to the Networks.  In this role we have four goals: 1) enhance network effectiveness through knowledge sharing systems; 2) facilitate intra- and inter-network collaboration; 3) ensure effective legal advocacy through legal technical assistance and training, and 4) document promising practices to enhance provision of effective legal services today and into the future.

 

 

This project was supported by Grant No. 2014-XV-BX-K013, awarded by the Office for Victims of Crime, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice. The opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this document are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.