Academic Programs

Human Trafficking Clinic

Overview

Founded in 2012, the Human Trafficking Clinic provides pro bono legal representation to human trafficking survivors in Massachusetts. The Clinic is unique in its focus on holistic, multi-disciplinary lawyering and the importance of building sustainable law enforcement partnerships. The Clinic is co-located at the Family Justice Center, which includes the Family Violence and Human Trafficking Units of the Boston Police Department as well as a variety of victim services agencies. The Clinic also receives referrals from local, state, and federal law enforcement, many of whom lecture in the Clinic. Speakers have included the Massachusetts Attorney General, the U.S. Attorney for the District of Massachusetts, and various federal and state law enforcement officials.

Since Massachusetts enacted state human trafficking legislation in 2012, the Clinic has been on the forefront of implementation of the new law. Professor Julie Dahlstrom is the co-chair of the Victim Services Subcommittee of the Attorney General’s Human Trafficking Task Force, and law students have played an important role in training law enforcement and other professionals regarding the new legislation. In addition to case work, Clinic students also have participated in novel projects, including the publication of a new manual issued in 2013 entitled, Representing Victims of Human Trafficking in Massachusetts, a collaborative project of the Human Trafficking Clinic, WilmerHale, and the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office.

Clinic Description

The Human Trafficking Clinic offers a unique opportunity for students to work on legal cases of human trafficking, a widespread and serious human rights violation. Clinic students engage in a wide variety of legal activities, including direct representation of trafficking survivors, community education, and legal advocacy. Clinic students directly represent trafficking survivors in a variety of contexts including: applications for T-visas, applications for victim compensation, and other civil matters. Students also collaborate with a variety of stakeholders, including law enforcement, survivor-led organizations, government officials, and non-governmental organizations, to identify solutions to combat human trafficking. Through their clinical experience, students increase their knowledge of trafficking law and learn fundamentals of lawyering, while providing a valuable service to survivors who would otherwise be unrepresented.

Pre-requisites

There are no pre- or co-requisites. It is recommended that you take Immigration Law and/or Evidence, but it is not required.

Fieldwork Information

The Human Trafficking Clinic is a one semester commitment with the option to extend for two semesters. Students earn 3 credits in the fall and can opt for 2 credits in the spring. Students are generally placed in teams where they have the opportunity to represent two clients and also engage in important human trafficking projects.

Seminar Information

In addition to the fieldwork, students must take 2 seminar courses: Human Trafficking (fall; 3 credits); and Advanced Human Trafficking (spring; 1 credit).

Faculty

The clinic fieldwork is supervised by Julie Dahlstrom. Professor Dahlstrom also teaches the two required seminar classes.

Application Process

There is a competitive application process, and the application is posted online in April of each year. Students are asked to submit their resume and describe relevant experience as well as their interest in the Clinic.

What makes the Human Trafficking Clinic distinctive?

The Human Trafficking Clinic was named one of top 25 most innovative clinics by PreLaw Magazine in 2014. The Clinic is unique in its focus on holistic, multi-disciplinary lawyering and the importance of building sustainable law enforcement partnerships. The Clinic is co-located at the Family Justice Center, which includes the Domestic Violence and Human Trafficking Units of the Boston Police Department as well as a variety of victim services agencies. This allows the Clinic students to work collaboratively with law enforcement and other professionals while recognizing their unique - and sometimes conflicting - role(s) when advocating for clients. The Clinic also receives referrals from local, state, and federal law enforcement, many of whom lecture in the Clinic. Speakers have included the Massachusetts Attorney General, the U.S. Attorney for the District of Massachusetts, and various federal and state law enforcement officials.

The Clinic recognizes the importance of holistic client counseling when working with this vulnerable population, many of whom have been victims of child sexual abuse, domestic violence, and other trauma. The Clinic partners on-site with the EVA Center, an organization run by survivors of sex trafficking. Survivor-led advocacy, often called peer mentorship, is a model wherein victims of human trafficking work directly with current victims by sharing their own experience. This type of advocacy has been recognized as an essential part of any successful human trafficking intervention. 

Links/Resources

Representing Victims of Human Trafficking in Massachusetts, a manual for attorneys representing human trafficking survivors in Massachusetts

Findings and Recommendations of the Massachusetts Interagency Human Trafficking Policy Task Force

An Act Relative to the Commercial Exploitation of People, Massachusetts anti-trafficking legislation passed in November 2011

Human Trafficking Clinic in the News

Deliverance: Bostonia Magaine features BU alumna and the Human Trafficking Clinic

Support needed for sex trafficking survivors, Professor Julie Dahlstrom describes the lack of social services for trafficked and prostituted women.

Human Trafficking Clinic Named One of Most Innovative Law School Clinics

Spotlight: BU Law’s Human Trafficking Clinic

Taking On Modern-Day Slavery: BU’s Human Trafficking Clinic

BU Law Clinic Helps Publish First-Ever Massachusetts Human Trafficking Guide for Attorneys

BU Law Clinic Scores Victory in ‘House Slave’ Case

Human trafficking ‘not at all uncommon’ in Northeast, Professor Julie Dahlstrom is interviewed about the prevalence of massage parlors in Massachusetts.

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Back row, left to right: AUSA Amy Burkart, Julie Dahlstrom, Jean Phillip Brignol, Nichole Beiner, Christina Borysthen-Tkacz, Remi Vespi, Casie Miller, AUSA Ted Merritt; front row, left to right: Alyssa Tochka, USA Carmen Ortiz, and Jamie Cosme