Photo of Cole Woodward

Cole Woodward

  • Hosted by Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid
  • Sponsored by U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Office for Victims of Crime
  • Service location St. Cloud, Minnesota
  • Law school Mitchell Hamline School of Law
  • Issue area Human Trafficking and Victim’s Rights Enforcement
  • Fellowship class year 2018
  • Program Crime Victims Justice Corps

The Project

The prevalence of human trafficking is growing in Minnesota and specifically in the St. Cloud area. To address this growing issue, human trafficking task forces were created for individual counties. For example, Stearns County (where Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid’s St. Cloud office is located) has a task force that addresses human trafficking through a response protocol and through law enforcement involvement. Another way Minnesota is addressing human trafficking is through a new law that requires hotels to train its employees to recognize and screen for sex trafficking. Now, through this Crime Victims Justice Corps Fellowship, there is an attorney in St. Cloud, Minnesota who works with survivors of human trafficking. 

As a Crime Victims Justice Corps Fellow, Cole provided civil legal services to human trafficking survivors. He addressed client needs, such as expungement work, housing, family law and immigration needs. Most of the clients faced financial insecurity, so one goal was to make the clients economically self-sufficient. Clients could look towards the fellow and Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid to address their safety and security, which may be in the form of petitioning for an Order for Protection or fighting an eviction. 

Cole is interested in public interest work because of the opportunity to help people and make a real difference in their lives. That is why he went to law school. Most of his experience is in immigration and family law. During law school, Cole clerked at Legal Services of NorthEastern Minnesota where he practiced housing law. He also volunteered at Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid’s Minneapolis office where he practiced immigration law, specifically with U Visa and naturalization cases. These experiences solidified his interest in public interest and immigration work; therefore, Cole saw the Equal Justice Works Fellowship as the perfect opportunity to apply his experiences while assisting and empowering human trafficking survivors to improve their lives. 

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