BALTIMORE, January 13, 2020 – Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service (MVLS), the largest provider of pro bono civil legal services to low-income Marylanders, today announced a generous grant from the Venable Foundation to support its Human Trafficking Prevention Project (HTPP), which was launched in 2016 in partnership with the University of Baltimore School of Law. January is recognized as National Human Trafficking Awareness Month and the new funding will be critical in matching pro bono attorneys with survivors of human trafficking to provide legal counsel and full representation for their civil cases. Since 2016, MVLS has trained more than 75 pro bono attorneys to assist more than 100 clients that are survivors of human trafficking or those at risk of being trafficked.
“We are thrilled to receive ongoing funding from the Venable Foundation to support our Human Trafficking Prevention Project in Maryland,” said Susan Francis, executive director, MVLS. “With this funding, MVLS will be able to improve the project’s capacity to provide comprehensive civil legal services to survivors, which helps them on their path to recovery from the severe trauma they experienced while trafficked. Venable is a loyal supporter of MVLS and makes pro bono work a priority for its attorneys as many Venable attorneys are a part of MVLS’s volunteer network. We look forward to matching our network of pro bono attorneys with survivors of human trafficking for brief advice or full representation.”
Survivors of human trafficking and those at risk of being trafficked can find themselves with a record of criminal convictions and civil issues that create a need for legal help with family law matters, consumer and housing issues, the need for criminal record expungements, and vacatur of prostitution convictions. Assistance from pro bono attorneys help these survivors move forward on their road to recovery.
“We are honored to provide funding to Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service for the remarkable legal assistance they are providing to Marylanders in need, especially survivors of human trafficking,” said Michael W. Bigley, director of the Venable Foundation at Venable. “We will continue to encourage and inspire attorneys to share their skills with those who need help navigating the civil legal system.”
The HTPP provides on-site intake at multiple community-based organizations, including Pride Center of Maryland, Family Crisis Center of Baltimore County, TurnAround, Inc., Helping Up Mission, Support, Partnership, and Realtime Communication (SPARC) Center for Women, Pivot Program, and Catholic Charities’ My Sister’s Place Women’s Center.