September 27, 2016

New York State Victim Legal Assistance Network

New York State Victim Legal Assistance Network

The New York State Crime Victims Legal Network Project (NY VLN) is a cutting-edge, federally-funded partnership between the New York State Office of Victim Services (OVS), the Empire Justice Center, Pro Bono Net, and the University at Albany’s Center for Human Services Research. 

Recognizing that crime victims often have a variety of legal concerns directly arising from their victimization, but seldom receive the legal representation they require, this project is designed to identify unmet civil legal needs of crime victims in areas of the State outside New York City and then develop a planned response to fill this void.  The ultimate goal is to create a comprehensive, collaborative network providing holistic legal assistance to crime victims to meet all civil legal needs that arise in connection with their victimization. 

The NYS OVS has overall responsibility for the project and has contracted with three partners to conduct the technical work of the grant. An advisory committee including crime victim advocates, civil attorneys, prosecutors, crime victims, and relevant agencies throughout the state is assisting the design and direction of this important project.

During the first 18-month phase of the project, the NY VLN conducted a needs assessment which identified the civil legal needs of crime victims, the gaps between the services needed and the services available, and the role of an online resource in filling these gaps. The project is currently in its second phase where the findings from the needs assessment are being used to develop a pilot of the network. The pilot is limited in scope by geography, legal issue, website features, and the level of connection of crime victims to legal help. For the pilot, the resources on the online tool will focus on providing access to legal services via a help directory and self-help resources (e.g. know your rights information and do-it-yourself forms). “Warm referrals” – directly connecting clients to the appropriate civil legal organization – will be done on a limited basis. An evaluation of the pilot will inform any needed changes to the network. In the third phase of the project, the network will gradually be expanded statewide; this is expected to occur over a 12-month period beginning at the end of 2018. The goal is to have the NYS Crime Victims Legal Network rolled out to all 57 counties in New York State outside the five boroughs of New York City by the fall of 2019.

For more information:

Click here to visit the New York VLAN website. 

Click here to read the New York VLAN Needs Assessment.

Click here to return to the main Networks webpage.


This  was produced by the Empire Justice Center, the Center for Human Services Research and the New York State Office of Victims Services under Grant No. 2014-XV-BX-K009, awarded by the Office for Victims of Crime, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice. The opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this product are those of the contributors and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice